Obituary — Antonius Broos


Antonius (Ton) Broos, 77, a retired lecturer of Dutch in LSA’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, died March 1 at his home in Ann Arbor.

He was born in 1947 in Weert, Netherlands.

Antonius (Ton) Broos
Antonius (Ton) Broos

After receiving a Master of Arts degree in Dutch language and literature at the University of Amsterdam, Broos worked at the Royal Library in The Hague, and in the late 1970s accepted a position as lecturer in Dutch at Sheffield University in England. He joined U-M in 1982. As the first continuous lecturer of Dutch at U-M, he directed the Dutch program for 30 years, until 2012.

As director of the program, Broos inherited two successful collaborations with the Netherlands: the Netherlands Visiting Professorship (1950-2008) and the Dutch Writer-in-Residence program (1981-2005). Through these programs, and with his love for Dutch literature, he hosted some of the most prominent Dutch writers, including E. M. Beekman, Hugo Claus, Hella Haasse, Astrid Roemer and Kader Abdolah.

In addition, he helped found the DeVries-VanderKooy Memorial Lecture series, inaugurated in 1996 and which continues today. One of Broos’ largest legacies was his development of the Anne Frank course in 1993, which continues to be one of the department’s most popular courses, now integral to the minor in Dutch language and culture.

Beyond Michigan, Broos was a leader in the Dutch studies community, actively forging relationships across U.S. and Canadian Dutch studies programs, and hosting the Interdisciplinary Conference on Netherlandic Studies in 1986 and 2002. At U-M, he hosted the weekly “Dutch Lunch” in the Modern Languages Building, and in the greater Ann Arbor area he served as president of the Netherlands America University League since 1985.

Broos’s most recent and ambitious Dutch Tract Conservation Project was in the service of the U-M Library’s large collection of historical Dutch pamphlets, mostly from the 17th century. In 2023, Broos funded the hiring of a book/paper conservator to prepare the pamphlets to be digitized so that the full texts will be readable online, making them available to scholars. The meticulous conservation work is still proceeding and is funded to July 2024.

On Feb. 28, shortly before Broos’ passing, the university honored his legacy and his work on the conservation project. At the event, Broos was presented with a framed copy of a Dutch pamphlet about the Vrede van Westfalen, in the U-M collection.

Broos is survived by four sisters and numerous nieces and nephews in the Netherlands. Memorial contributions may be made to the Ton Broos Dutch Tract Conservation Project Fund, University of Michigan Office of Development, Attn: Gifts and Records Administration, 3003 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109.


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