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Mainline Presbyterian seminary adds collection on Dutch theologian to its library

Church historian Puchinger specialized in Kuyper

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

PRINCETON, NJ – North American students of educator, theologian and political leader Abraham Kupyer, who dominated life in the Netherlands for decades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, can opt for research at a PCUSA institution before deciding to head for the Netherlands. Princeton Seminary has more than 32,500 books on Dutch theology, political history, and literature in its library collection, thanks to a private American donor and to the estate of Dr. George Puchinger, head of the Historical Documentation Center for Dutch Protestantism, who died in 1999.

The Luce Foundation awarded a $175,000 grant to Princeton Seminary to purchase Puchinger’s library following his death in Amsterdam. Puchinger who had Czechoslovakian roots was a well-known historian and publicist at the Free University of Amsterdam. He was known above all for his publications concerning prominent Reformed politicians Abraham Kuyper and Hendrikus Colijn. For this work, Puchinger received Princeton Seminary’s first Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life in 1997.

The Puchinger collection contains books, pamphlets, and fifty pieces of ephemera, including many first editions, fine bindings, and antiquarian books. The broad subject is European theology and church history, with special holdings in Dutch theology, political history, and literature. The core of the collection however is materials that support the study of the life, thought, and influence of Abraham Kuyper.

Dutch American retired investment banker Rimmer de Vries had pointed the institution to the Puchinger library, encouraging it to obtain the books for the Seminary. De Vries was instrumental in establishing the Kuyper Prize at the Seminary. The Kuyper Center sponsors publications, lectures and consultations on the relation of theology to the other "spheres" of life. The activities of the Kuyper Center are coordinated by a faculty board. Princeton since created its Abraham Kuyper Center.

Princeton also acquired a portion of the library of the Rev. C. H. W. van den Berg, a noted Kuyper scholar. According to Kuyper’s modern-day bibliographer, retired GKNv-theologian Tj. Kuipers, Princeton Seminary now has probably the finest collection of Kuyper materials in North America.