Western Michigan Genealogical Society: Find the Midwife! Discovering midwives in online records and other sources: Janet Sjaarda Sheeres

mar 4

1:30 p.m.

Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library Place, NE., GR, 49503    map

Topic: Find the Midwife! Discovering midwives in online records and other sources
Presenter: Janet Sjaarda Sheeres

More information at the WMGS website.

Over forty-five heretofore forgotten Dutch immigrant midwives who served in the Dutch colonies across the United States have been uncovered. In this session Janet will share some practical research tips on how to find immigrant women who served as midwives in their various ethnic colonies. The session will include a case study. It will also show how woman were often sidelined in the early historical and Census Records.

In 2012 Janet presented her research on other invisible Dutch women, single women who immigrated alone between 1880 and 1900, in a program for the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council. In 2017, she will represent the GGRWHC at History Detectives with “Present, But Not Counted: Dutch Immigrant Midwives in Grand Rapids.” 

Janet Sjaarda Sheeres is an independent scholar, genealogist, and freelance author who researches and writes on the subject of family, church, and Dutch emigration/immigration history. She has served as president of the Zeeland, Michigan, Historical Society, AADAS (Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies) and has served as chairperson of the Christian Reformed Church Historical Committee.  Since she began writing about thirty years ago she has published over 70 articles in various national and international historical and genealogical journals. Her biography, Son of Secession: Douwe J. Vander Werp, was published by Eerdmans in 2006. The Not-So Promised Paradise: The Dutch Colony in Amelia, Virginia 1868-1880 was published by Eerdmans in 2013, and The 1857 to 1880 Synodical Minutes of the Christian Reformed Church, which she edited and annotated, was published in 2014.  She is an Associate Editor of Origins, the journal of the Calvin College Heritage Hall Archives, and has taught genealogy classes for CALL (Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning). 

Janet was born in the Netherlands, speaks fluent Dutch, and has visited many of the major Dutch genealogical libraries and archives.  She has visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City over a dozen times.  She spends every Monday volunteering in the Calvin College Archives and recently completed keying all the births, marriages, anniversaries, and obituaries printed in the Calvinist Contact, a Dutch-Canadian weekly, founded in 1946 by the huge wave of Dutch immigrants to Canada.  She is married to Gerrit W. Sheeres, a retired Christian Reformed pastor, has 4 children, one daughter-in-law, one son-in-law and six grandchildren and a granddaughter-in-law.