Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is the perfect occasion to feature the Digitales Deutsches Frauenarchiv (DDF), the digital German women’s archives, as well as Atria, the institute on gender equality and women’s history.

The DDF, launched last year, is a new portal dedicated to making select historical sources documenting the history of women’s movements in (mostly) German-speaking countries available online to broad audiences. The portal features thematic essays that provide context for featured documents, as well as biographical essays on key actors, for example Louise Otto Peters and Clara Zetkin. The portal combines digitized sources from over forty archives, libraries, and other cultural institutions that collect resources documenting the history of women’s and lesbian movements.

The forty-six essays that are currently online focus on specific sources, such as Claudia Schoppmann’s essay about Anna Elisabet Weirauch’s novel trilogy Der Skorpion, or cover broader thematic areas based on a range of sources, such as the influence of the 19th century bourgeois women’s movement on the professionalization of social work.

Particularly relevant on this day is Kerstin Wolff’s essay on the history of International Women’s Day, which was initiated by the International Socialist Women’s Conference in Copenhagen in 1910, and first celebrated in Denmark, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland and the United States. Wolff highlights the role of Clara Zetkin und Käte Duncker in mobilizing support for International Women’s Day as part of the campaign for women’s suffrage. The poster: Heraus mit dem Frauenwahlrecht (Give Us Women’s Suffrage), published for Women’s Day in 1914, is also featured in GHDI’s volume on Wilhelmine Germany and the First World War.

Atria, the institute on gender equality and women’s history in Amsterdam, is one of the oldest institutionalized archives documenting women’s history. Atria was established in 1935 as the International Archive of the Women’s Movement (IAV). One of its first collections were the papers of Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929), a campaigner for women’s suffrage and the first female physician in the Netherlands.

During World War II, German occupiers ransacked the collections and shipped some of the stolen materials to Germany. In 1992, a historian discovered that Russian troops subsequently took many of these materials to a “special archive” in Moscow. In 2003, the archives, including many materials from the IAV, were returned to the Netherlands.

In the meantime, driven by the second-wave feminist movement, the IAV continued collecting materials documenting the history of women and women’s organizations.  Some of Atria’s collections are now either fully or partially digitized, including Aletta Jacob’s papers and Rosa Manus’ papers.