The 1950 PR Young People’s Convention and 25th Anniversary PRC Field Day

Last week several old issues of the Beacon Lights, the magazine “for Protestant Reformed Youth” were put away in the PRC archives. Bob Drnek  brought a few of them into my office because two of these were PR Young People Convention issues (1950 and 1968) and had some good pictures in them.

So I scanned a few pages from the August, 1950 “BL”, since this also included a report on the PRC Field Day held in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of our denomination – an event that drew 2700 to Spring Grove in Jamestown! We post these today, though some of the pictures are quite dark. But I hope you will recognize a few folks and enjoy another ride down “memory lane” – at least for some of you, since others of us didn’t come along until 1958!

Come along! Here we go! [As always, you may click on the picture to enlarge it.]

1950 BL Cover_Page_1


1950 Fed Board_Page_1

1950 PRYPs Conv-2nd PRC_0005_Page_1

1950 PRYPs Conv-2nd PRC_0006_Page_1

1950 PRYPs Conv-2nd PRC_0001_Page_1

1950 PRYPs Conv-2nd PRC_0002_Page_1

1950 PRYPs Conv-2nd PRC_0003_Page_1

1950 PRYPs Conv-2nd PRC_0004_Page_1

Why Old Newspaper and Book Pages Turn Yellow

This article appeared yesterday on the “Today I Found Out” emailing that was sent to me. It follows nicely on a post on archives onvolving yellowed pages. Ever wondered why? Here’s the extended – and somewhat scientific – reason (And when you get to the end, you will understand why we use acid-free folders and boxes in archivs work):

It is generally thought that paper was invented around 100 BC in China. Originally made from wet hemp that was, then, beaten to a pulp, tree bark, bamboo, and other plant fibers were eventually used. Paper soon spread across Asia, first only being used for official and important documents, but as the process became more efficient and cheaper, it became far more common.

Paper first arrived in Europe likely around the 11th century. Historians believe the oldest known paper document from the “Christian West” is the Missal of Silos from Spain, which is essentially a book containing texts to be read during Mass. This paper was made out of a form of linen. While paper, books, and printing would evolve throughout the next eight hundred years, with the Gutenberg printing press coming in the mid-15th century, paper was normally made out of linen, rags, cotton, or other plant fibers. It wouldn’t be until the mid-19th century when paper was made out of wood fiber.

So what changed?  In 1844, two individuals invented the wood paper-making process. On one end of the Atlantic Ocean was Canadian inventor Charles Fenerty. Growing up, his family owned a series of lumber mills in Nova Scotia. Knowing the durability, cheapness, and availability of wood, he realized it could be a good substitute for the much more expensive cotton used in paper. He experimented with wood pulp and on October 26, 1844, he sent his wood pulp paper to Halifax’s top newspaper, The Acadian Recorder, with a note touting the durability and cost-effective spruce wood paper. Within weeks, the Recorder used Fenerty’s wood pulp paper.

At the same time, German binder and weaver Friedrich Gottlob Keller was working on a wood-cutting machine when he discovered the same thing as Fenerty – that wood pulp could act as a cheaper paper than cotton. He produced a sample and, in 1845, received a German patent for it. In fact, some historians credit Keller for the invention more than Fenerty simply due to the fact that he received a patent and the Canadian did not.

Within thirty years, wood pulp paper was all the rage on both sides of the pond. While wood pulp paper was cheaper and just as durable as cotton or other linen papers, there were drawbacks. Most significantly, wood pulp paper is much more prone to being effected by oxygen and sunlight.

Wood is primarily made up of two polymer substances – cellulose and lignin. Cellulose is the most abundant organic material in nature. It is also technically colorless and reflects light extremely well rather than absorbs it (which makes it opaque); therefore humans see cellulose as white. However, cellulose is also somewhat susceptible to oxidation, although not nearly as much as lignin. Oxidation causes a loss of electron(s) and weakens the material. In the case of cellulose, this can result in some light being absorbed, making the material (in this case, wood pulp) appear duller and less white (some describe it as “warmer”), but this isn’t what causes the bulk of the yellowing in aged paper.

Lignin is the other prominent substance found in paper, newspaper in particular. Lignin is a compound found in wood that actually makes the wood stronger and harder. In fact, according to Dr. Hou-Min Chang of N.C. State University in Raleigh, “Without lignin, a tree could only grow to about 6 ft. tall.” Essentially, lignin functions as something of a “glue,” more firmly binding the cellulose fibers, helping make the tree much stiffer and able to stand taller than they otherwise would, as well able to withstand external pressures like wind.

Lignin is a dark color naturally (think brown-paper bags or brown cardboard boxes, where much of the lignin is left in for added strength, while also resulting in the bags/boxes being cheaper due to less processing needed in their creation). Lignin is also highly susceptible to oxidation. Exposure to oxygen (especially when combined with sunlight) alters the molecular structure of lignin, causing a change in how the compound absorbs and reflects light, resulting in the substance containing oxidized lignin turning a yellow-brown color in the human visual spectrum.

Since the paper used in newspapers tends to be made with a less intensive and more cost-efficient process (since a lot of the wood pulp paper is needed), there tends to be significantly more lignin in newspapers than in, say, paper made for books, where a bleaching process is used to remove much of the lignin. The net result is that, as newspapers get older and are exposed to more oxygen, they turn a yellowish-brown color relatively quickly.

As for books, since the paper used tends to be higher grade (among other things, meaning more lignin is removed along with a much more intensive bleaching process), the discolorization doesn’t happen as quickly. However, the chemicals used in the bleaching process to make white paper can result in the cellulose being more susceptible to oxidation than it would otherwise be, contributing slightly to the discolorization of the pages in the long run.

Today, to combat this, many important documents are now written on acid-free paper with a limited amount of lignin, to prevent it from deteriorating as quickly.

As for old historic documents, there may not be a way to reverse the damage already done, but one can prevent further damage. It is important to store the documents or newspaper in a cool, dry, dark place, just like how museums store historic documents in a temperature-controlled room with low-lighting. Additionally, do not store them in an attic or basement; those places can get humid and can have significant temperature swings. If one would like to display the newspaper or document out in the open, put it behind UV protected glass to deflect harmful rays. Most importantly, limit the handling of said document or newspaper – nothing destroys a valuable piece of paper like frequent handling.

Published in: on March 20, 2015 at 6:25 AM  Leave a Comment  
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PRC Archives: Snapshots of the Second YP’s Convention, 1940

Today for our PRC archives post, I am going to keep my comments to a minimum and let the pictures (and their accompanying words) do the talking.

These six (6) images are scanned from the 1940 PR Young People’s Convention booklet (second annual!), sponsored by and held at First PRC, Grand Rapids, MI from August 21-22, under the theme “Christian Attitudes.”

Enjoy! And note how different these early conventions were from those held now. Need I point out they didn’t have (need?) all the “fun”! Speeches and discussion were the focus. Plus, I have thought for some time that those debates ought to be revived. As usual, click on the images to enlarge them.

1940 PRYPs Conv-1_Page_1

1940 PRYPs Conv-2_Page_1

1940 PRYPs Conv-3_Page_1

1940 PRYPs Conv-4_Page_1

1940 PRYPs Conv-5_Page_1

1940 PRYPs Conv-6_Page_1

Rev.H.Hoeksema’s 30th Birthday Noted in “The Banner”

Today I stumbled on a great archive item while browsing through a bound volume of 1916 “Banners” (The Banner was then and still is today the official publication of the Christian Reformed Church) found in Prof. (emeritus) D.Engelsma’s library, which I have started to process.

Knowing that Rev.Herman Hoeksema (one of the founders of the PRC in 1925) was a newly-ordained CRC minister in 1916 (he was ordained on Sept.16, 1915 in the 14th St. CRC in Holland, MI), I looked at some early issues of this collection of 1916 Banners.

It wasn’t long before I discovered two references in the “Church News” section of the March 23, 1916 issue (The Banner was a weekly magazine at the time, published every Thursday!) to his Holland congregation celebrating his thirtieth (30th) birthday.

March23-1916 Banner cover_Page_1


I scanned the front cover of this issue, so that you can see what The Banner looked like in those days (not the best scan due to the size but still readable). And then I also scanned the page of “Church News” (under “Holland Notes”) where the two references to the 14 St. CRC marking Hoeksema’s birthday may be found (click on the images to enlarge).

I think you will rather enjoy these little historical notices. I also type them out there for ease of reading.

March23-1916 Banner inside pg re HH_Page_1

Middle column notice:

Surprises will play an important part among the news items this week.

The first one was by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the 14th St. church on their pastor, Rev.H.Hoeksema. It being the thirtieth anniversary of his birth last week Monday, the ladies came en masse and brought, as a token of esteem, thirty silver dollars. The presentation speech was made by Mrs.M. Van Putten and a very enjoyable time spent.

Third column notice:

March 13, was Rev.H.Hoeksema’s birthday, the 30th. In the evening the Ladies’ Aid surprised him and presented him with as many dollars as he had seen summers. Tuesday evening, March 14th, a catechism class brought a fine rocker to the parsonage and spent the evening with the domine’ and his wife. Such an expression of appreciation will do the heart of the pastor good and urge him on to greater effort in the work of the Lord.

PRC Archives – The Reformed Witness of NW Iowa & MN

The Protestant Reformed Churches in America have a long history of local evangelism and “church extension” work performed by the congregations (besides her denominational mission work), much of it involving the use of printed materials – sermons, radio messages, pamphlets, and brochures.

The PRC also love the name “Reformed Witness”, with at least four ministries bearing this name, including our well-known radio program, The Reformed Witness Hour.

RefdWitness-1960s Ed-HHanko-1

Yesterday, while processing a few items that had come in from Harold Schipper (through his son-in-law Bob Ensink), archive assistant Bob Drnek discovered a few old pamphlets (1960s) produced by “The Reformed Witness” of NW Iowa (with “committee” added to that name to give you the group responsible for the evangelism work) – a cooperative effort of the NW Iowa PRCs and Edgerton, MN PRC – and still active in that ministry, I might add.

Refd Witness Bible Quiz-1_Page_1

I scanned two of these older issues, so that you can see the progression in style (click on them to enlarge). Both contain articles written by Rev.Herman Hanko (You will see the titles from the covers). Yes, I said, REV. H.Hanko, not Professor, for Rev.H.Hanko was minister of Doon PRC at the time of their writing. Which places the pamphlets between 1963 and 1965, the years he was Doon’s pastor. It was in 1965 that he accepted the call to serve as professor in our Seminary, a position he held until his retirement in 2001.

But then, much to my surprise, when I opened up the one edition (the one on “Evolutionism”), there was a Bible Quiz inside! So, there we have a “Friday Fun” item too – a day early!

I cut and pasted the quiz so that it would be on one page. You and/or your family can be challenged by that this weekend. I would be interested in your “score” (“excellent, good, or fair”?!). Click on the image to open it separately, and then right click on it to print it. Enjoy!

Refd Witness Bible Quiz-2_Page_1

PRC Archives – 197? PRYP’s Convention Photo

Fresh from the hands of a local PRC member (last week) comes this gift to the PRC archives – a photo of the 197? PR Young People’s Convention!

I’m excited about this one, because it’s a little closer to my generation, and I think many of you will be able to identify with it. Plenty of familiar faces here – if you can get close enough. Click on the image to enlarge and then use the control-plus buttons to bring it even closer (although it gets grainier).

The questions are:

  • Where is this picture taken?
  • Who hosted this convention?
  • What other details can you provide for the benefit of us all?
  • Spot any PRC ministers here? Name them.
  • And, of course, what is the precise year in the 70s that this convention took place?

In the meantime, I will see if I can drum up the convention booklet for this year in time for you next week. Have fun! Might be torture for some of you former conventioneers, but pictures don’t lie!

14th Annual PRC Field Day – 1938

Yesterday while browsing briefly for something else in the PRC archive cabinet, I found a folder marked “Annual Field Day”. Being curious, I peeked inside and found the program of the “Fourteenth Annual Field Day of the Protestant Reformed Churches of Grand Rapids and Vicinity” (see cover below). The date is Monday, July 4, 1938. The location that year was Brown’s Grove in Jamestown, Michigan (I wonder if this is the same as the current “Spring Grove Park” in Jamestown. Can someone help with that?).

14th PRC Field Day - 1938 - Cover & back_Page_1


I have scanned the cover and back of the program (click on the images to enlarge), on which you will find a variety of interesting events and games – from a ballgame at 10 a.m. (baseball or softball?), to several numbers by a “Holland Men’s Quartet” (ok, what men made up this group?), some Dutch Psalm-singing, a speech by Rev.H.Hoeksema on “Yankee Dutch” (I am going to try and find that speech for next time. Wouldn’t you like to know what that was about?!), a collection for The Standard Bearer, and children’s games (peanut hunting, marshmellow chewing, and donut eating among them!). Sounds like a pile of good fun and fellowship to me!

I also scanned two of the inside pages (there are a total of 10), which include the songs to be sung and some of the sponsors – the ads are quite interesting too – some familiar businesses there!

14th PRC Field Day - 1938 - inside pages with ads_Page_1

Looking at one of these programs again made me think: why don’t we revive this idea again?! And I don’t just mean in the Grand Rapids area. Why don’t the individual congregations forego their annual congregational picnic and we all combine for a major denominational Field Day? How about during the week of one of the Young Peoples’ Conventions? Maybe in the Chicago area or NW Iowa as a “central” location?

We don’t have to wait for our 100th “birthday” (2024), although that would  be a great time to do it too. How about it, can we get some people to plan such an event? Would that not be a great time promoting and displaying our churches’ unity?

PRC Archives – New YP’s Convention Picture – 1951

Last week we received a 1951 PRC Young People’s Convention group picture from Gord Van Overloop of Hudsonville PRC (through his son, Pastor Ron VO), and after checking the archives, I discovered we did not have this group photo as yet. We did have a folder with loose pictures from that year’s convention but not a picture of the entire group. So, now we do – thank you, Gord – and Rev.Van Overloop!

1951 YP's Conv - Pt_Page_1

Because it is a panoramic photo, I had to scan it in three parts, which I present to you today (There may be a little overlap, therefore.). It is a fairly clean and clear photo, and it contains many familiar faces. While the year and location (host society) are not a mystery – as you will see from the picture, some of these people will be to you. I am thinking that my generation may find their parents here and that current young people may be able to see grandpa and grandma. Have fun looking! 🙂 Be sure to click on the picture to see the enlarged version.

1951 YP's Conv - Pt_Page_1

But there are other details that we would like to know – where were all these people lodged? What activities were they involved in that week – and where? And what ministers spoke, and on what topics? Help us out here by leaving comments in the comment section. Thank you in advance!

1951 YP's Conv - Pt_Page_1


PRC Archives: The Growing Seminary Library, 1980

And for our PRC archives item today we post this one-page article involving a little Seminary history – specifically on the library!

In the Oct.15, 1980 issue of The Standard Bearer (v.57, #2) the PRC Seminary was featured (There are many other interesting items and pictures in that issue, if you care to look it up!), and Prof.Herman Hanko, who was partly in charge of the library at that time (and a certain current professor was a student assistant!), penned an article about “Our Growing Library.” And indeed it was, compared to what it had been!

Our secretary, Judi Doezema came across this issue and article this morning, and when she showed it to me, I knew we had our PRC archives feature for this week. Besides, you will also learn about the origin of our PRC archives.

So, read on and enjoy this little trip down Seminary memory lane. It’s only 34 years old 🙂

O, and for those who like a challenge, how about identifying the students in the picture. Shouldn’t be that hard (click on the image to enlarge it.)

P.S. I might also add that I am SO glad they made the switch to Library of Congress cataloging!

Sem Library art in Oct15-1980 SB_Page_1

The Reo Story (some neat old cars!) « Seeking Michigan

The Reo Story « Seeking Michigan.

REO car-1906And for those who are interested in Michigan archives and like old (i.e., Olds) cars, here’s a great mystery photo involving two products of the Reo Motor Company started by Mr.Ranson Eli Olds – yes, of Oldsmobile fame.

The Michigan Historical Society (Archives of Michigan) is looking for help identifying this particular photo too (Not the one on my blog here, but the one on their blog), though they do know the make of the cars. Who knows, maybe some of you can help them!

Don’t hesitate to mark and visit their blog too from time to time. Always good historical items here as well.

Here’s the introduction to this particular post. Read the rest at the link provided.

The photo above shows two early models of the Reo Motor Company. Archives of Michigan staff have been unable to identify the garage or the individuals depicted. If anyone has information on this photo, they are encouraged to contact this author by e-mailing

Famous Initials

In 1903, Ransom Eli Olds left Oldsmobile, the company that bore his name. Disagreements with financial backers prompted his decision. He then immediately embarked upon a new entrepreneurial endeavor. Olds couldn’t use his name for his new company, so instead he used his initials: REO.