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Little of substance was written about the person Wilhelmina Drucker during her life. Two interviews were published – one in the social liberal weekly De Amsterdammer (1896), presumably by its editor Johannes van Loenen Martinet, and another in the liberal newspaper Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant (1925) by feminist Wilhelmina van Itallie-van Embden – and two written portraits, in the independent daily De Telegraaf (1904-1905) and in the cultural monthly De Hollandsche Revue (1914). In contrast, the amount of public recollections and retrospectives on the occasion of both Drucker’s personal jubilees and those of the VVV has accumulated considerably over the years, and the number of commemorative writings after her death is abundant. The mere diversity of those who paid tribute in writing already provides strong indications of Drucker’s tremendous influence and charisma.

After decades of silence – briefly interrupted by the publicity around the unveiling of the statue in her memory in 1939 – Wilhelmina Drucker gained attention once more in 1968, when archivist Deanna te Winkel-van Hall published Wilhelmina Drucker. De eerste vrije vrouw (Wilhelmina Drucker: The first free woman), which initiated a new phase in the literature on the subject. The year before, in 1967, leading literary journal De Gids had put out the article ‘Het onbehagen van de vrouw’ (Women’s discontent) by feminist Joke Kool-Smit, which had provided the spark to ignite the second feminist wave in the Netherlands, so now Te Winkel-van Hall’s book offered the activist (i.e. feminist-socialist) wing of the movement both a point of reference and a name: Dolle Mina (Mad Mina). In the years that followed, an additional handful of publications on Drucker appeared, either by feminists who embraced her as the ultimate ‘free woman’, or by anti-feminists who scapegoated her, sixty years after.

Meanwhile, in the course of the 1970s, at universities various women’s history groups had emerged. As the feminist-socialist domination of the women’s movement clearly reverberated in the academic feminist milieu, the field of research initially remained rather limited to women workers and feminist socialists instead of ‘bourgeois’ feminists. The 1985 Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis (Yearbook of Women’s History), devoted to the first feminist wave, became the turning point. It included Fia Dieteren’s article on Wilhelmina Drucker, which heralded the serious research into Drucker’s life and work that continues to this very day.

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  • Published: 07 July 2016
Last modified on 07 July 2016
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