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Gerritsen Collection--Women's History Online, 1543-1945 from Chadwyck-Healey

In the late 1800's, Dutch physician and feminist Aletta Jacobs and her husband C.V. Gerritsen began collecting books, pamphlets, and periodicals reflecting the revolution of a feminist consciousness and the movement for women's rights. By the time their successors finished their work in 1945, the Gerritsen Collection was the greatest single source for the study of women's history in the world, with materials spanning four centuries and 15 languages.

The Gerritsen curators gathered more than 4,700 publications from continental Europe, the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand, dating from 1543-1945. The anti-feminist case is presented as well as the pro-feminist; many other titles present a purely objective record of the condition of women at a given time.

The broad scope of the collection allows scholars to trace the evolution of feminism within a single country, as well as the impact of one country's movement on those of the others. In many cases, it also provides easy access to primary sources otherwise available only in a few rare book rooms.

The Gerritsen Collection consists of two segments: the Periodical Series and the Monograph Language Series.

Periodical series

Periodicals constitute 25 percent of the entire collection. For the years from 1860 through 1900, the period covered by most of the titles, there is no comparable resource. Gerritsen scrupulously sought complete runs, and her successors acquired additional materials to fill whatever gaps arose. The result is a collection containing such titles as The Suffragist (1913-21) and The Women's Protest Against Woman Suffrage (1912-18).

Monograph language series

There are over 4,000 monographs and pamphlets, comprising 75 percent of the titles. They are grouped by language:

  • English - With more than 2,000 titles, this is the greatest single source for tracing suffragism and feminism in the English-speaking world. Included are Carrie Chapman Catt's Ought Women to Have Votes for Members of Parliament? (1879), as well as Anti-Suffrage Essays by Massachusetts Women (1916).
  • German - These 929 titles document the history of an organized movement, as well as women and socialism, Jewish women's status, and Swiss feminism.
  • French - the 734 French titles cover women in the military, law, and reforms in women's legal, civil, and economic rights, as well as women's influence on French literature from Gallic times through World War II.
  • Other languages - 12 languages and 472 titles.

For each monograph, The Gerritsen Collection includes an English-language summary of its contents.

General Federation of Women's Clubs

The collection features content from the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Founded in 1890, the General Federation of Women's Clubs is an international women's organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service. Located in Washington, D.C., GFWC Headquarters was named a National Historic Landmark in 1991. With more than 100,000 members in affiliated clubs in every state and more than a dozen countries, GFWC members work in their own communities to support the arts, preserve natural resources, advance education, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage civic involvement, and work toward world peace and understanding.

A National Historic Landmark, GFWC Headquarters was built in 1875 and was once the home of U.S. Army General Nelson A. Miles. Purchased by GFWC in 1922, the splendid Victorian town home is filled with unique architectural details, art, and artifacts. GFWC Headquarters includes the GFWC Women's History and Resource Center that documents the social and political contributions of GFWC clubwomen through the GFWC archives, related special collections, and publications.


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September 13, 2010


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