copyright IIAV

History of the Jacobs' archive

It is not absolutely clear how and when the papers described here came in the possession of the IAV.
In the preface of her Memories, first published in 1924, Jacobs writes 'when I first started to read through my old letters and papers ..". In this book, she mentiones correspondence with Bertha von Suttner, with William Stead, and Bjornstjerne Bjornson. Certainly not all the letters she received during her life have survived. There is, for example, no correspondence with her husband, as far as we know. Maybe she destroyed some papers herself when finishing her autobiography.
When she died in 1929 in Baarn, her belongings were in the house of the Broese van Groenou's in The Hague. Certainly some papers and objects stayed there, Mien van Wulfften Palthe was her only heir by testament 1923.
In 1930, May 20, Rosa Manus writes to Clara Hyde, the secretary of Carrie Chapman Catt, 'Dr. Jacobs' books have come to me now, and I am organising a real feministic library which I hope, will prove useful to the feminists.' This library was founded in 1935 by Rosa Manus, W.H. Posthumus-van der Goot and Johanna Naber, and was called the International Archives for the Women's Movement (IAV) in Amsterdam. In a letter to Posthumus-van der Goot from October 14, 1936, Rosa Manus writes from Montreux, Switzerland, that they have to open the 'trunk Jacobs', when she will be back in Amsterdam. The 'First Annual Report of the International Archives for the Women's Movement, from the foundation until the 1st of May 1937', reports that Rosa Manus has given a big part of her own library, including very precious material from dr. Aletta H. Jacobs, to the International Archives (p. 166).
In February 1940, because of the threat of a war, several valuable papers were stored in a safety deposit box, among them a stack of letters to Aletta Jacobs, as is written on a list. On July 2, 1940, an abrupt end came to the flourishing beginning of the IAV: the German Sicherheitsdienst knocked on the door of the IAV, told the two women who were present to leave, and sealed the door. A few days later the Germans removed the complete content of the IAV to Germany.
After the war, in 1947, only one tenth of the material came back. The board of the IAV claimed the damage of the missing books, archives and furniture by the 'Schade-Enquête-Commissie'. Among the claims was the correspondence of Aletta Jacobs. They specified this archive as follows:

"Papers concerning trips to various governments in 1915
Notes of Scandinavian visits by C. MacMillan
Visit to London by E. Balch and C. MacMillan
Separet pakket: various important documents
1. mixed
2. Jane Addams
3. Rachel Foster Avery
4. A. Jacobs to L. Anthony
5. Gräfin v. Moltke - Rose Innes
6. Emily Hobhouse
7. H. Mercier
8. Kate C. Mead
9. Olive Schreiner"

Not all the papers mentioned here are missing, because they are in the IIAV (and probably always have been).
Other archival material of Jacobs, however, had been taken by the Germans in 1940. We know since 1992, when it became clear that in a special archive in Moscow a lot of archives from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, etc. was stored there since 1945. When the Russians liberated the east of Europe, they took these items with them as spoils of war.
The Russians still have not given back these archives, but we know what the content is. The papers belonging to Aletta Jacobs's archive are described in the inventory numbers 140, 150-151, 176-177, 195, 205, 210, 172, 397, 412, 414-415, 419-421, 426, 449-450, 530, 549, 556 and 563.
Finally, some letters and photographs of Aletta Jacobs were donated in 1961 by E. Coops-Broese van Groenou, The Hague.

print mail