About The Gerritsen Collection

"It is safe to say that no other collection in this country offers such resources for comparative studies of the feminist movement."
- Anne Firor Scott, Duke University

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 of Aletta H. Jacobs 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.

The Chadwyck-Healey interface makes searching easy. Users can search serials only, monographs only, or both at the same time. The ASCII text is searchable by keyword and Boolean operators, and records are linked to the corresponding page images, downloadable in the Adobe® PDF.