Aletta H. Jacobs Papers

Aletta H. Jacobs Papers

Country  Netherlands; United States of America
Repository  Atria, Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History, Vijzelstraat 20, 1017 HK Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Section  Inscriptions on International Register
Gender Dimension  Records on gender equality issues; Achievements of women in history; Stories from women's perspective
GEM  GEM 3 – Gender Transformative
Description  The Aletta Jacobs Papers offer a rare insight into the struggle for women’ s rights. They show how Aletta Jacobs used her position as a medical doctor to fight for women’ s social and political rights. They also highlight how transnational feminist networks worked together in the fight for suffrage, education, birth control, labour rights and peace.

The Papers reveal a life full of international political activism and include letters written to Aletta Jacobs from famous American and British suffragists such as Susan B. Anthony, Ann Howard Shaw, Jane Addams and Emmeline Pankhurst. Also included are documents from the International Congress of Women in the Hague (1915), documents on peace missions, a report on the visit to President W. Wilson and letters received by Dr. Jacobs concerning birth control.

Aletta Jacobs (1854–1929) was the first female doctor in the Netherlands to receive a university doctorate in medicine. She offered a free clinic for women in the poor quarters of Amsterdam and gave advice on birth control, adopting and experimenting with the ‘Mensinga diaphragm’, later referred to as a ‘Dutch cap’.

In 1894 the Dutch Association for Women’ s Suffrage was established. Aletta Jacobs became president of the Amsterdam branch in 1895 and president of the national association in 1903. Later she became one of the most prominent international leaders for women’s suffrage. She was also the initiator of the International Congress of Women in 1915, which became the founding meeting of the Women’ s International League for Peace and Freedom. During WWI Jacobs and other conveners visited the leaders of belligerent countries to plead for peace.

The documentary heritage was inscribed onto the Memory of the World international register in 2017
Reference  -


- Photo credit: © Atria (p.1-2); © National Library of the Netherlands (p.3)