University of Groningen.


The project concerns the role elite women played in the development of social movements and civil society at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century. This approach offers a new perspective within the study of political culture, family culture, elite studies and women’s history. Its main question is how kinship ties and family networks function as vehicles of personal power and of social and political change by enabling especially their female members to participate in different ways, and sometimes even to take up leading positions.

The project features a group‐biography of the five Boissevain sisters, the international well‐connected daughters of Jan Boissevain (1836‐1904) and Nella Brugmans (1838‐1905). The Boissevain family was a wealthy, influential and extensive patrician family from Amsterdam. At the beginning of the twentieth century they cultivated connections with the worlds of politics and commerce, academia and the mass media. The sisters provide an excellent prism to study the ’politics of family networks’, because for women, family relations were even more important.

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