Wednesday, March 30, 2016

INEZ | This blog hit 15K page views today; most-read posts

Thank you for reading.
This blog, devoted entirely to Inez Milholland Boissevain and the Milholland and Boissevain families, has passed 15,000 page views.

The blogs that I manage  collectively passed one million page views last month.

Thank you for reading. Now would you comment? Or send an email to me at

Here are the most-read posts during the last month (March 2016):


BOISSEVAINS USA | 3A. Daniel (1772-1834) Family Gr...
Mar 16, 2016, 2 comments

INEZ BIO | Mar. 8–International Women's Day
Mar 8, 2016, 1 comment

BOISSEVAINS USA | 3A. Emigrés, 1880-1933 (Updated ...
Mar 26, 2016

INEZ | Mar. 25–Triangle Fire, 105th Anniversary
Mar 25, 2016

Jun 14, 2015

EUGEN | 4. Tough and Tender (Updated March 26, 201...
Nov 17, 2015

INEZ | 5A. Herald Uniform 1913 (Updated March 27, ...
Feb 27, 2013

BIRTH | Feb. 23–W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP's F...
Feb 23, 2016

INEZ | 5A. Leading the 1913 Parade [14]
Apr 20, 2013

BOISSEVAINS USA | 3A. Robert, Jan, Eugen, Olga (Up...
Nov 10, 2015

Saturday, March 26, 2016

BOISSEVAINS USA | 3A. Emigrés, 1880-1933 (Updated June 12, 2016)

Van Hinte's book was published
in Holland in 1928. The translation
into English in 1985 took a Dutch
team 7 years.

The way that the Boissevain family worked together may be seen in the movement of Dutch people to the United States, especially starting in the 1880s.

To help us understand what was behind this movement, a handy book is available.

Why Dutch People Looked to the USA

Jacob Van Hinte took a six-week summer trip to the United States in 1921. He sailed at 32 on the S.S. Rotterdam IV, under the flag of the Holland-America Line. (The ship broke apart on Oct. 12, 1883 and was scrapped.)

As many people do when they go to a new country, Van Hinte kept a detailed diary. As few people do, however, Van Hinte expanded his observations during the next seven years into a  chronicle (in Dutch) that overflowed into 1,000 pages in two volumes.

He visited East Coast Dutch "colonies" such as Paterson, N.J. and thriving Dutch settlements in the Upper Midwest and Plains states. Van Hinte visited with first and second generation colonists and studied primary sources.

The biggest success story he found was the pioneering initiative of Dr. Albertus Van Raalte in founding Holland, Michigan. Van Hinte seems to have spent the rest of his life writing and teaching from his 1921 trip. He examined failures as well as successes in Dutch ventures in the USA.

His book was translated into English as Netherlanders in America six decades after it was first written. It took as long to translate as to write.

Visiting Boissevains 

Van Hinte describes the joint efforts of two Boissevains to bring Dutch money and people to America:
  • Adolphe Boissevain, leader of Boissevain & Co., in 1880 started to urge Dutch people to settle in Virginia and invest in the financing of railways and other U.S. projects such as farm exports. He was made director of a railway and the towns of Boissevain, West Virginia and Boissevain, Manitoba were named after him. The railways were a big success but the effort to settle more Dutch people in Virginia was not. The British presence, after all, was deeply entrenched in Virginia.
  • Charles Boissevain (Gen6, 1842-1927, editor and publisher of the Algemeen Handelsblad in Amsterdam), traveled to the United States in 1882 and wrote back to his newspaper about opportunities he saw in the United States. He seems to have been heavily influenced by the views of Adolphe Boissevain in picking out promising areas for investment and settlement. (Is this the first instance of what we might call today native advertising?) Nothing much seems to have come of his suggestions for good spots for Dutch people to settle (Norfolk, anyone?) in Virginia.
Van Raalte.

Van Hinte's book was originally published in Dutch in 1928. That year  happens to have been the peak year for trying to lure anyone to the United States. It was a harder sell the following year and by the time the United States was fully recovered from the Depression in 1940, Holland was at the beginning of five years of occupation by the Nazis.

That explains why an English translation of the book did not appear until 1985. Another explanation is that the translation, loosely supervised by the Chief Translator, Adriaan de Wit, took seven years to complete. It was eventually published in 1985 by Baker Book House Company in Grand Rapids, Mich. and sold for $40.

In his book, Van Hinte describes what Van Raalte and the Boissevains were seeking to do as "colonization". It seems an odd use of the word, given that Holland was fully cognizant of what real colonies were–in the Dutch West Indies and East Indies and (before Rhodes) South Africa. The word "settlement" might have been a safer word, but some of the English phrases in Van Hinte's book are "quaint". Assuming that "colonization" is what Van Hinte meant, here are three threads that might help provide context:

1. In South Africa, Rhodes was crowding out Dutch investments. The First Boer War in South Africa started in 1880. Cecil Rhodes had begun to Anglicize some Dutch assets. The De Beers Company, which Rhodes founded, was derived from property of two farming brothers of Dutch origin–Diederik Arnoldus De Beer (1825-1878) and Johannes Nicolaas De Beer (1830-1883). They owned a farm called Vooruitzicht in the Orange Free State (near Zandfontein). Diamonds were discovered on their farm. Not being able to defend their land against diamond poachers, they sold it in 1871 to Alfred Johnson Ebden (1820-1908) for a paltry £6,600. The farm became the site of both the Kimberley and the De Beer Mines. Rhodes's company took the farmers' family name even though the original owners of the land did not share in the riches that flowed from it. Dutch traders must have despaired of getting a fair deal from Rhodes's African empire. As they looked elsewhere and the United States must have been an attractive lure.

2. The Mormons showed a new way to colonize. Followers of Brigham Young showed how a religious community could take over an entire territory without firing a shot, just through numbers. Where the Catholic Church built parallel educational institutions, Mormons followed Brigham Young to what became the Utah Territory and then the State of Utah and filled the schools with Mormon students and teachers. Mormonism, the principal branch of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity, began with Joseph Smith in upstate New York during the 1820s. They migrated for the same reason that dissenters left England under Charles I.

3. With the end of the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction, America was open for business. Washington, D.C. established itself as the government of the United States with the Union victory in 1865. Another war of secession was unlikely. With the shaky Reconstruction period over, It seemed a good time for Dutch investors to look at the country as a place to put their money and even live. Having stayed out of the risky Civil War (compared with Britain, which did not), Holland was more comfortable addressing the American need for people to finance harvesting and agricultural trade. The building of railroads, ports and other infrastructure required investments and agents of capitalism. Dutch entrepreneurs and financiers saw opportunity knocking.

Later Boissevain Arrivals

I have written elsewhere about the migration of other Boissevains to New York City in the late 19th century and early 20th century:
  • Gideon Louis Boissevain (1870-1924) and his sons Meinhart and John. Gideon Louis emigrated to the United States and married Helen Arabella Magee. He became a director of the Knickerbocker Trust, living in due course at 993 Park Avenue. They had two sons, Meinhart Boissevain (1896-1928) and John Magee Boissevain (b. 1901, died, probably in Nice, France; no date on record, NP 100).
  • Olga (my grandmother), Robert, Jan, Eugen Boissevain, children of Charles Handelsblad Boissevain. Their migration was complete by 1933, when Olga's son-in-law E. R. Marlin moved to Washington, D.C. to work for FDR and Olga joined him and her daughter Hilda. Eugen and Olga died the same year, 1949. Jan and his wife Charlotte Ives retired to the Cap d'Antibes near Nice; I met Charlotte in 1959.
This is not a complete list. There is more to come.


Van Hinte, Jacob, Netherlanders in America: A Study of Emigration and Settlement in the 19th and 20th Centuries in the United States of America (2 vols., 1,000 pages). Groningen, Netherlands: P. Noordhoff, 1928.

See also sources at links for "Later Boissevain Arrivals".

This blog is sponsored by Boissevain Books, which keeps in print books by Hilda van Stockum, daughter of Olga Boissevain, and publishes new books. To buy a book and support keeping this work alive, go to To suggest a new book, write to

Friday, March 25, 2016

INEZ | Mar. 25–Triangle Fire, 105th Anniversary

Site of the Triangle Fire.
March 25, 2016–The Triangle Fire occurred next door to the NYU Law School, which was then located to the east of Washington Square Park close to the center of the eastern border of the park. 

Just 18 months before, in September 1909, the 250+ teenage girls who worked at the Triangle workers went out together on strike and were joined by nearly 20,000 other workers on a strike that lasted 13 weeks. 

NYU law student Inez Milholland joined the strikers and was arrested along with them. Some companies settled, but the Triangle owners refused to make any concessions. 

One requested concession was that doors not be locked (see Joan Dash, We Will Not Be Moved: The Women's Factory Strike of 1909, Scholastic Books, 1996, p. 140). 

On March 25, a fire took the lives of 146 workers, mostly young girls, who could not exit the locked doors. Most chose to jump to their deaths from windows, or into elevator shafts, rather than wait to be burned alive. 

This fire led to new labor laws in New York State, to FDR's appointment as Labor Commissioner when he became Governor, and then to her appointment in 1933 by the incoming president, FDR, as Secretary of Labor and the first female Cabinet member in history, serving throughout the next 12 years. More on the fire.


Dash, Joan. We Will Not Be Moved: The Women's Factory Strike of 1909, Scholastic Books, 1996.

See also prior post in 2014.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BOISSEVAINS Gen4 | Daniel Sr. (1772-1834) Family Group (Updated Mar 11, 2017)

993 Park Ave., at 84th St. Gideon Louis
lived in this 49-unit apartment building,
which was built in 1915.
The following post overlaps with others on the Early Boissevains (First 6 Generations), the Charletjes and the American Boissevains. With Noah Sisk (GenB), I have reorganized and consolidated these posts, using the extensive computerized survey by Matthijs Boissevain and the 1988 Blue Book, the Nederland's Patriciaat.

NEW YORK, March 16, 2016–This post is about a  branch of the Boissevain family that I knew nothing much about until 2016. For the prior generations, go to Early Boissevains.

Daniel Sr. is the father of Daniel Boissevain Jr. and Gidéon Jérémie Boissevain (1796-1875, Nederlands Patriciaat, NP 48), both of whom had descendants who came to the United States. The Nederlands Patriciaat is called the "Blue Book" of the Netherlands, about the prosperous but not noble Dutch families. The "Red Book" covers the Dutch nobility, which tends to be democratic like the most of the Scandinavian aristocracy.

Daniel Jr. (Gen5)

Daniel's second son (the great-great-grandson of Lucas) is identically called Daniel; he is disambiguated from his father by using "Jr." or providing his birth-death coordinates (1804-1878 NP 84). This Daniel was the younger brother of Gidéon Jérémie; he had a son Mijnhard Johannes Boissevain (Gen6, 1870-1924), also spelled Mynhard, Mijnhart and Mijnhardt in Dutch. The name was transliterated to Meinhart, it seems, when the family came to the United States.

Mijnhard's son Gideon Louis Boissevain (Gen7, 1870-1924) emigrated to the United States and married Helen Arabella Magee, b. 1872, living in due course at 993 Park Avenue. They had two sons, Meinhart Boissevain (Gen8, b. July 14, 1896, d. Oct. 1928, age 32) and John Magee Boissevain (b. 1901, NP 100).

During the Panic of 1907, Gideon Louis  Boissevain and his brother-in-law (?) John Magee called on J. P. Morgan to ask him to help save the Knickerbocker Trust. Morgan refused, and the Trust closed. The deposits of its customers were locked up for months. But at the end of a period of hunting for new equity, the Knickerbocker Trust reopened and G. L. Boissevain was said by Morgan's 1911 biographer Carl Hovey to have been key to its revival.

Meinhart Johannes Boissevain apparently prospered in the go-go years of the 1920s, possibly because he inherited money from his father (who was in the United States when he died in 1924) when he was 28 years old, amidst of soaring stock prices. His investments doubtless grew rapidly during 1924-1928 years. He died tragically young when he was 32.

Gideon Louis Boissevain,
Did Meinhart miss the Crash? The dark financial clouds that came to a head in October 1929 were already filling the sky, and I wonder whether he could see ahead, was overextended and died from the stress. It is a pity he didn't write his autobiography.

Walraven (Wally) van Hall went to New York City in August 1929 to look for work in the shipping business. I always thought that the likely connection was with well-off Boissevain relatives in New York City–Robert, Jan and Eugen of Boissevain & Co. They had just expanded their space on the top floor of the Whitehall Building when the financial clouds started to gather. But Meinhart Boissevain may have been anticipated, until he died, as one of the expected hosts. Wally's son Aad does not remember talk about any of the Boissevains; possibly Wally or his widow didn't want to dwell on this disappointment.

Another possible family connection in the shipping business for Wally van Hall–suggested by Charles (twin of Hester) van Hall–was Hester Boissevain van Hall's son Maurits van Hall (born 1901). Maurits was director of the Verenigd Cargadoors Kantoor (United Shipbrokers Office), abbreviated VCK. (With Charles I visited his youngest daughter Ellen van Hall Wurpel in February 2015.)

Unfortunately, 1929 was a bad year to look for a job in New York City. Wally gave up finding a shipping job and instead worked with his older brother Gijs van Hall in banking; however, after 18 months he returned to Holland without trying to extend his visa. By living through the Crash of 1929 he must have had the best financial education anyone could ask for and after leaving New York he got a job immediately as a banker with his family back in the Netherlands. Ten years later he became the Banker of the Resistance, for whom the dry and skeptical official writer of the 14-volume history of World War 2 in Holland, the late Loe de Jong, had nothing but extravagant praise.

John Magee Boissevain, the other son, married twice and had a daughter by each wife, so the Boissevain name disappeared from the branch but interest in the Boissevain family did not die with it.

Estrella Boissevain in fashion shot,
about 1938. Photo by Horst P. Horst 
[Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann]
1. Estrella and Cynthia. John's first wife was Estelle  (nicknamed Estrella–"star" in Spanish) Braniff Carroll Boissevain. She grew up in New York City and married John on Aug. 25, 1923, a month after the well-publicized wedding of Edna St. Vincent Millay to Eugen Boissevain. Photos of Estrella were taken by famous photographers of the day like Horst P. Horst and George Hoyningen-Huene. She was featured in Vogue and Harper's. By Estrella John had a daughter, Cynthia Anne Boissevain, born July 26, 1924, in San Francisco. Cynthia married Thomas F. Madigan; they had five children, of whom four survive. Her son Nick Madigan, one of the four surviving children, says:
My mother Cynthia is alive and well at 92, living on the coast in Wales and at present visiting cousins in Mexico [...].
2. Suzanna and Natasha. John's second wife was Suzanna Saroukhanoff, born in Tiflis (then in Russia, now in Georgia) on August 11, 1907.  By her, he had a daughter Arabella Helen (Natasha) Boissevain, born June 14, 1932. Natasha married twice: (1) Malcolm Pray Jr. and (2) F. Richards (Dick) Ford III, Princeton '50 and Virginia Law School, son of the late Frank Ford, Princeton '26; they lived mostly in Greenwich, Conn.

Natasha did not have children with Dick Ford, but he came with five of his own from his first marriage. With Pray she had four children–three daughters (Sabrina, Melanie known as Lilly, and Tina)–and a son, Malcolm. The daughters are still living; Lilly Pray resides in Boulder, Colo. Natasha died Feb. 13, 2005.

Charles Leidschendam Boissevain wrote to me about going to Natasha's home in 1995:
My wife Liset and I well remember visiting Natasha in Greenwich, Conn. She certainly was a nice person. And a beauty! When she was 18, we found a full-page ad in the Saturday Evening Post telling us: "Miss Natasha Boissevain, young debutante of the 1950 season, makes her bow to society. Discriminating in her choice of cigarettes, Miss Boissevain says: 'I find Herbert Tareyton's cork tip particularly nice, and so many of of my friends do, too.'"  She was promoting sport and gym clubs for physical exercise. As I was involved with sport also (then!) we had something to talk about. (In the 1990s I ran some marathons, but I am too old for that now – I have to be a bit careful with my two new hips, though I did run this morning a little little bit, and very slowly.)
The advertisement is at right.


Daniel Boissevain Sr.: 1772-1834, Nederlands Patriciaat, 45.
Gideon Jeremie Boissevain: 1796-1875, Nederlands Patriciaat, 48.


Hovey, Carl.  The Life Story of J. Pierpont Morgan: A Biography. New York, 1911. Available via Google Books.

Correspondence with Nick Madigan and Charles Leidschendam Boissevain, March-April 2016.

Charles Boissevain sent me the following page (in Dutch) about Daniel Boissevain (1772-1834):


I thank Nick Madigan for getting in touch with me about his family, and I thank both him and Charles Leidschendam Boissevain (son of Bob Boissevain, Sr., who died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945) for helping me figure out some of the connections.

This blog is sponsored by Boissevain Books, which keeps in print books by Hilda van Stockum, daughter of Olga Boissevain, and publishes new books. To buy a book and support keeping this work alive, go to

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

INEZ BIO | Mar. 8–International Women's Day (Updated May 19, 2016)

Jane Barker of the Turning Point Suffrage Memorial
 and the restored portrait of Inez Milholland Boissevain,
Sewall-Belmont House, 2011. Photo © by JT Marlin.
New York, March 8, 2016–This day, March 8, is the 105th Women's Day, later called "International Women's Day".

It was little noted in New York City five years ago on its centennial, despite the day having been born and reborn here. I posted something about it on Huffington Post.

In 1908 on this day, 15,000 women marched down Fifth Avenue in support of working women. Many of their goals were advanced by the largely successful 13-week shirtwaist workers' strike of 1909.

Inez Milholland was deeply involved in assisting strikers as a first-year law student at NYU.

The owners of one factory never settled their strike–the Triangle factory, where the tragic fire of  March 25, 1911 occurred. The fire did not result in punishment of the criminally negligent factory owners, but it provided the emotional inspiration for:

  • The suffrage parade in New York City in 1912,
  • The Washington parade in 1913.
  • The picketing of the White House in 1917, which led directly to woman suffrage in 1920.

Inez Milholland had a part in all three of these events, which turned around public opinion on the issue of woman suffrage. She led on horseback the parades in 1912 and 1913, and her death in 1916 was the inspiration for the confrontation between the National Woman's Party and President Wilson that in turn instigated the White House picketing and the imprisonment of picketers.

Today, despite the 95-year-old victory of the suffragists and the fact that young women are now better educated than men, working women are still trailing men in pay.

New York Origins of Women's Day

Descriptions of a Women's Day go back to March 8, 1857, when needle workers in New York City reportedly demonstrated for higher wages, a reduction in the workday from 12 to 10 hours, and no uncompensated work. Their protest was reportedly dispersed by shots from an army unit and by the arrest of 70 workers.

Two key woman suffrage leaders of the second half of the 19th century–Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony–failed to obtain votes for women and died disappointed in 1902 and 1906. Their leadership torches were picked up by a new generation of brave women leaders who succeeded in their goal. One of them was Inez Milholland.

The year Susan B. died, the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union was founded. Needle workers in New York protested on March 8, 1908 under the auspices of Branch No. 3 of the New York City Social Democratic Women's Society. Women marched down Manhattan for better pay and a shorter workday–and in addition they called for woman suffrage and better protection against child labor.

In 1908 and 1909, the needle workers benefited from the support of wealthy women like Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and Anne Morgan, and also from a large contingent of volunteers from women's colleges like Bryn Mawr and Vassar. Inez Milholland was one of the most visible of these women in 1908, when she was a junior at Vassar College.

She signed up two-thirds of Vassar students in a suffrage organization. She was forbidden to hold a suffrage meeting on the Vassar campus, so she scheduled it across the road at Poughkeepsie's Calvary cemetery in June 1908. Vassar's President Monroe Taylor had threatened to expel anyone who attended, but faculty and alumnae showed up along with 40 students and he thought better of expulsion.

During the 13-week shirtwaist-worker strike of 1909, Inez Milholland was a law student at NYU, located next door to the Triangle Shirtwaist factory on Washington Square East. She picketed with the workers and explained to them their rights.

Milholland became an icon of the suffragists in 1912 and 1913 when she rode horseback in costume at the head of the New York and Washington suffrage parades.

In 1913, when she surprised her friends and got married in secret, she was called "the fairest of the Amazons" by the NY Times.

In 1916 she campaigned against Woodrow Wilson for not supporting the Anthony Amendment to give women the right to vote, and she collapsed during the strenuous effort, dying (it was recorded) from "pernicious anemia", exhaustion and what we would call today counter-productive medical care while she was traveling (her prescriptions included arsenic and strychnine). Her death precipitated White House picketing and President Wilson's capitulation.

Woman Suffrage and Equality

The suffrage amendment was finally ratified in 1920, 80 years after it became a gleam in Stanton's eye and 50 years after the right to vote vote was recognized for all men. So now it's nearly 95 years after the first election in which all U.S. women had the right to vote. Has the right to vote spelled equality for women? In the educational area, increasingly so. In a word, young women are now better educated than young men. As I said five years ago in my Huffington Post article:
Women receive 58 percent of the bachelor degrees and 61 percent of the master's degrees in the United States. Of women 16 years and older, 37 percent work in management, professional and related occupations, more than men (for whom the figure is 31 percent). But women in the United States still earn just 77 cents for every $1 earned by men. Of the 259 members of the Financial Women's Association just surveyed in New York City, 96 percent say they get paid less than men for comparable work. In 2008, 86 women served in the 110th U.S. Congress, just 16 percent of the 535 seats. The proportion of women in state legislatures is slightly higher, 24 percent.
The U.N. supports and promotes International Women's Day, which is outstanding. But do its own actions match its words? When I wrote in 2011, it was promoting women at a slower rate than men:
In 2006 and 2007, the number of women appointed as directors (D-1 and D-2s), assistant-secretaries-general (ASG) and under-secretaries general (USG) was 25 percent. It was 38 percent in the professional categories. 
The worst news is how poorly women fare in developing countries dominated by non-Western culture. Women's choices are severely limited and in some countries women have few human rights. International Women's Day therefore is needed not just to celebrate the achievements of suffragists but to extend the rights of women where they are not respected–in the United States and globally. 

© 2016 JT Marlin. Follow me on twitter: @cityeconomist.