For Dutch people the glass industry in Leerdam is very well known, but strangely enough the knowledge about the history of this industry is only meagre. About 1.5 metres of papers relating to the glass industry were donated to the IISH in March 2004 and they provide an excellent addition to what is already known.
The glass industry was founded in 1765 by the Lutheran Pelgrim brothers, originally from Bohemia. There were 45 glass producers in 1870, all working independently. In 1872 a national organisation of glass factories came into existence. In 1904 a national agreement on wage tariffs was reached.
In a letter from 1904 Cornelis Voogd, a medical doctor associated to the Leerdam Glass Factory, pleads that a hospital be established. His argument is that patients cannot be cared for at home. 408 households in Leerdam (with an average of 4.7 persons per household) are living in no more than a single room or two small rooms. Beds are usually shared, so 'the person who is ill must continue to share his bed with the healthy ones, or the healthy are pushed in with other members of the household or have to make do with a space on the floor.' In some dwellings the toilet is also in the same room and this spoils the little fresh air that gets into the dwellings. Doctor Voogd thought these three arguments sufficient to convince the directors that it was also in their well understood best interest to support establishment of a hospital in Leerdam. The factory employed 600 workers.
Text was taken from On the Waterfront - newsletter of the Friends of the IISH Issue 9 (pdf, 780 Kb).