Located on the campus of Hope College, the mission of the Institute is to honor the memory and the vision of the Reverend Dr. Albertus C. Van Raalte, the founder of Holland and Hope College, by studying his life and work. From this mission also is derived the scholarly investigation and publication of materials concerned with the immigration and the contributions of the Dutch and their descendants in the United States of America. Furthermore, the Institute is dedicated to the study of the history of all the people who have comprised the community throughout its history.
The Institute derives its vision from a letter dated 27 November 1846, by A. C. Van Raalte, written shortly after his party landed in New York. As he was headed westward, he declared, "I hope that a large colony can be established here in America which will focus its work on the Kingdom of God." His vision also extended far beyond the boundaries of Holland, Michigan, to other colonies and to immigrants throughout the United States. The bold Christian vision that he had for the church, education, and community continues to have an impact on the colony that he founded on 9 February 1847, and on the college which he helped to establish fifteen years later.
The Institute carries out its educational mission not only through research and publication, but also through the sponsorship of lectures and presentations by its members and its invited guests. Through liaison with scholars and educational and cultural institutions in the Netherlands and other countries, the Institute seeks to promote the understanding of the history of this community. From time to time, the Institute will host visiting scholars from these countries to enable them to engage in research in our local archives and to provide a broader perspective to our own endeavors.