Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Frank van der Goes and Willem Witsen

The IISH received a small but interesting supplement to the papers of the Dutch Marxist and socialist Frank van der Goes in the slipstream of the biography Frank van der Goes, 1859-1939. Journalist, literator en pionier van het socialisme by Ron Blom (Delft: Eburon, 2012). Through the mediation of the author, two granddaughters of Frank van der Goes donated documents and photos to the IISH.

Very special are the photos in this supplement. Three of these were probably made by the famous Amsterdam photographer and painter Willem Witsen (1860-1923). Witsen belonged to the ‘Tachtigers’, a group innovators of Dutch literature and aret that included the painter George Hendrik Breitner.

Van der Goes liked to bring people together. He founded the literary society ‘Flanor’ in 1881 in Amsterdam. Writers, artists and actors including Witsen joined this society.  Witsen organized drawing room receptions on a regular basis in his own home in Amsterdam also. See also Correspondence between Van der Goes and Witsen (in Dutch) at the site of Geheugen van Nederland.

The IISH already had an en profile photo of Van der Goes, made by Witsen (BG A5/450). Included in this supplement is a photo en face of Van der Goes, made by Witsen most likely at the same occasion (BG A65/160, see above). The gallery of prints of the University Library in Leiden owns the glass negative of this photo (PK-F-E165). The double portrait of Van der Goes and his later wife Marie Koens, born in 1873 in Delft (BG B35/91), and the portrait of Marie (BG 35/92) were probably made on the same occasion, as clothing and physiognomy are the same. 

Some documents in this supplement refer to the membership of the juvenile Van der Goes of the ‘klub Lyra’ (1875) and the ‘club Vondel’(1876). In Van der Goes' last calendar on the year 1939 his wife noted  accurately which persons came to visit her very ill husband.

There is an interesting is letter dated 28th February 1940 from A.T. Kleerekoper to the widow Van der Goes on the auction of the library of her husband. Kleerekoper remarks: ‘In general the results were not bad although many items were not sold, and what was sold of the socialism section brought very low prices. The auction was saved by the Dutch political brochures which left at very good prices’.

This supplement can be found in the inventory of the archive Frank van der Goes

Marie Koens wrote letters on the final days of her husband Frank van der Goes to Eli van Tijn, see Theo van Tijn inventory nr 7

27 December 2012