- A "Truly International" Archive for the Women's Movement (IAV, now IIAV):From its Foundation in Amsterdam in 1935 to the Return of its Looted Archives in 2003
It is a great pity that so many documents about the difficult period in the beginning of the struggle for the vote and rights for women, have been destroyed. Therefore we hope to convince the women of the world that here in Holland we have a safe place and that everything: books, letters, pamphlets a.s.o. can be send to us to build up a library, where the women interested in the women's movement will have the possibility to study this movement in past and present.———Letter from the IAV Librarian, E. Ferf, to Phyllis Lovell, 9 October 19361
It is a great pity that so many documents about the difficult period in the beginning of the struggle for the vote and rights for women, have been destroyed. Therefore we hope to convince the women of the world that here in Holland we have a safe place and that everything: books, letters, pamphlets a.s.o. can be send to us to build up a library, where the women interested in the women's movement will have the possibility to study this movement in past and present.——Letter from the IAV Librarian, E. Ferf, to Phyllis Lovell, 9 October 19361
The Beginnings of the International Archives for the Women's Movement (IAV)
The International Archives for the Women's Movement (abbreviated as IAV after its Dutch name), founded in 1935 in Amsterdam, was very much a part of the international women's world that Bonnie Anderson, Mineke Bosch, Renate Howe, Margaret McFadden, Karen Offen, Leila Rupp, and others have described.2 Co-founder and first president of the IAV was Rosa Manus, a Jewish woman who also was a long-time vice-president of the International Alliance of Women (IAW) and affiliate of other international organizations. This article, based largely on a study of the pre-1940 archives of the IAV, is the first to use those pre-war archives that were stolen by the Nazis and subsequently taken by the Red Army, only to be returned to Amsterdam in May 2003. The story of their long-negotiated and dramatic return to Amsterdam provides a fitting conclusion to this article.
Individual Dutch women were involved in the international women's movement from early days, but the history of that involvement is outside the scope of this article.3 In 1899, the Dutch National Council of Women, formed in 1898, joined the International Council of Women (ICW), founded in 1888 as the first of the major international women's organizations.4 The [End Page 148] second big international women's organization, the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA), was formed in Berlin in 1904.5 Six Dutch women, among them Aletta Jacobs and Johanna W. A. Naber, participated in the 1904 founding meeting. Moreover, Naber became Second Assistant Secretary of the first IWSA board. She resigned after a year because of "the pressure of her literary duties" (and was succeeded by Dutch activist Martina Kramers),6 but she was to become one of the three founders of the IAV in 1935.
Besides an international orientation, national women's movements in the nineteenth and early twentieth century generally shared another characteristic—a strong interest in (re)constructing women's history.7 As Karen Offen has put it, "earlier generations of European feminists understood well that 'remembrance of things past' is important for plotting the future."8 In the Netherlands, Naber was the main figure in this respect; the "literary duties" that impeded her IWSA activities consisted of historical and journalistic work. Naber was born in 1859, the third child in an intellectual, financially prosperous, Protestant family.9 To her deep disappointment, her father, a university professor of philology and classical languages, did not allow her to study history at a university. Nonetheless, Naber became a recognized and successful historian. After the National Exhibition of Women's Labor in 1898—the apex of the nineteenth-century Dutch women's movement10 —she began to write histories of...