Although Wilhelmina Drucker’s activities and publications were mainly directed at Dutch states of affairs, she certainly kept an eye on things abroad. But at present, we know scarcely anything about it.
Until now, only one of Drucker’s foreign adventures has been studied: her visit to the Internationaal Werkliedencongres (International Socialist Workers Congress) in Brussels in August 1891, which eventually deeply affected both Drucker and Belgium. Drucker had come to this second congress of the Second International as representative of the. Straight away, at the entrance, she met such resistance by some of the Dutch socialists, who tried to exclude a feminist from the congress, that her international fame was established immediately. Moreover, her conduct worked as a catalyst in Belgium, where hitherto there had not been an organized women’s movement. Women from both socialist and liberal backgrounds approached her for advice, which she was happy to share with both.
Supported by Drucker and with Emilie Claeys at the helm, the rather servile Socialistische Propagandaclub voor Vrouwen (Socialist Propaganda Club for Women) within the Belgian Workers’ Party transformed into a feminist pressure group right after the 1891 congress. Next, in 1892, Drucker helped form the first independent political women’s organization in Belgium, the Ligue belge du droit des femmes (Belgian League for Women’s Rights), led by Belgian lawyer Marie Popelin. Upon the foundation of Evolutie, the Belgian connection was promptly envigorated. Drucker and Dora Schook-Haver recruited three Belgian feminists as members of the standing team of contributors: Emilie Claeys, Marie Popelin en Ligue member Louis Frank. In addition, Drucker and Schook-Haver translated Le grand catéchisme de la femme (1894) by Louis Frank, which appeared as De catechismus der vrouw (Women’s Catechism) at Versluys Publishers – the house co-run by feminist Annette Versluys-Poelman.
The transatlantic internationalization of the women’s movement, which had started with the foundation of the International Council of Women in Washington in 1888, differed in focus from the continental, socialist roots that were Drucker’s main connection. How and by which route she eventually did become involved , we cannot really tell yet. She certainly did attend international feminist congresses, but as to her function, or role, or the way these congresses shaped her beliefs and forged her international network, further research is needed.
Further indications of Drucker’s international orientation can be found in Evolutie, which mainly focused on developments in the Netherlands and the Dutch women’s movement, but never lost track of matters abroad, to which it even devoted a special section, called ‘Uit den vreemde’ (From Abroad). Moreover, when Josephine Baerveldt-Haver succeeded her late sister Dora Haver as co-editor in 1912, the position of women in the Dutch Indies became an increasingly important subject as well. As a promising field of research the matter remains largely open.
Finally, Drucker’s translations of foreign literature, which have been discussed to some extent, provide another angle on her international outlook, as do the books she read. Of the latter we as yet know next to nothing.
We hope for further future research into these international aspects of Drucker’s feminism and enjoy the prospect of reporting it here.