UNESCO Memory of the World

25 August 2016
Press clipping with stork from Aletta Jacobs archive

Atria's archive on Aletta Jacobs, the Netherlands’ most famous and prominent feminist, has been nominated for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. Through images, objects and documents, it presents both the Dutch and the international fight for women’s rights. During 2017, UNESCO will announce whether the Archive is to be included in Memory of the World.

Fight for women’s rights

The fight for suffrage dominates the Aletta Jacobs Archive, which includes letters to her from such international feminists as Carrie Chapman Catt (USA), Anna Howard Shaw, Emmeline Pankhurst and Olive Schreiner. Archive items from the time of the 1915 International Congress of Women in The Hague comprise correspondence with, for instance, Emily Balch, the American economist and pacifist, who won the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Jacobs also corresponded with Jane Addams, a social worker, the founder of the WILPF and the winner of the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize. Other interesting items concern an exchange of letters with Emily Hobhouse, the English journalist and human rights activist, and the documents surrounding the 1929 celebration of not only the 50th anniversary of Jacobs gaining her doctorate but also her 75th birthday. Other exceptional objects and papers in the Archive deal with the fight to enter higher education and the medical profession, the rights of prostitutes, women’s reproductive rights and the role of women in the political peace movements.

Preserving documentary heritage

Through its Memory of the World Programme, UNESCO encourages the preservation and availability of exceptionally valuable documentary heritage that is authentic, unique, irreplaceable and of major global importance. Atria submitted this nomination with the support of the University of Groningen and the Sophia Smith Collection, an American archive repository.