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January 22, 2001

Calvin Historian Earns Pres Position

"History," says Calvin College archivist Richard Harms, "is what I do."

That sort of dedication to his craft has earned Harms the respect of people at Calvin College at Calvin Theological Seminary and within the ranks of the Christian Reformed Church of North America, whom he also serves as archivist.

But Harms also has earned the respect of others who recognize the importance of history. Last fall he was elected president of the Michigan State Historical Preservation Review Board, a group of experts, appointed by the state from such diverse fields as architecture, architectural history, cultural geography, archeology, historic preservation and, of course, American history.

The Board meets regularly to approve (or reject) Michigan's nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, reviews appeals of decisions made by local historic districts, and offers general advice, guidance and professional recommendations to the State Historic Preservation Office on matters related to historic preservation. Being listed in the National Register (which is maintained by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior) gives recognition to a place, building, or object of cultural or historical significance, and requires all federal action, such as the construction of new roads or housing developments, to take in account any impacts on these resources

Harms has been on the Board for four years and will serve a two-year term as president.

"Calvin is dedicated to sharing its resources and expertise with the broader community," says Harms, "and my post on the Review Board allows me to do just that. It also allows me to represent Calvin in a setting different from the campus, one in which people may not be familiar with the school."

Prior to coming to Calvin, Harms was an archivist for the Grand Rapids Public Library. He also has worked for the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, taught at local colleges and done some historical preservation consulting on the side. "I have been very blessed to be able to do what I love," he says with a wide smile. "I can't imagine doing anything else."

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Contact Phil de Haan.