Wednesday, September 5, 2018

R.I.P. | Charles Boissevain

Your blogger (L) and the late Charles
"Leidschendam" Boissevain, who was
driving us from Amsterdam to Haarlem.
EAST HAMPTON, NY, Sept. 2, 2018–I recently heard from Aviva Boissevain that her father Charles died earlier this year.

Charles was active in remembering his family's contributions to the Dutch Resistance in World War II and he was a stickler for accuracy. 

Many things that I wrote he would review with me and question this and question that. The fact that information may have come from another member of the family did not matter to him. His questions were about the reliability or the probability of a fact.

He would ask me:
  • How could that person know that fact? How old was that person at the time?
  • Is there any corroboration?
  • Is it even probable? Isn't there another interpretation?
As Loe de Jong, the great historian of World War II in Holland said of himself in a talk he gave to Harvard University after the war, he likes his history like his sherry, dry.

Charles and his twin sister Hester (named after their great-grandparents Charles the newspaper publisher and his twin sister Hester) were the youngest children of Bob Boissevain. The entire family received a Yad Vashem award.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

WOMEN'S RIGHTS | Oxford Celebrates Progress

Jane Fleetwood in front of the Weston
Library, part of the Bodleian, in Oxford.
Sept. 5, 2018–Our friends Blake and Jane Fleetwood recently visited two exhibits in Oxford celebrating the talents and advancement of women.

One is at the Weston Library, next to Blackwell's ancient bookstore.

Here we are, 170 years after the Seneca Falls Convention on the Rights of Women, and one year after the Women's March of 2017.

In between, the United States had the activism of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the United States, followed by the new wave of activists like Inez Milholland and Alice Paul who got the job done.

An ongoing exhibit at the recently refurbished Weston Library, what used to be called the New Bodleian, shows the progress of women's rights "From Sappho to Suffrage" with a focus on the "Women Who Dared".

The leaders of the American suffrage movement trained with the British suffragettes, who were led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, collectively called with their followers the Pankhursts. Ironically, the American students of the Pankhursts won full suffrage nearly a decade before the British leaders did. This year is the centennial of the 1918 British Representation of the People Act, a permanent expansion of the electorate (there was a temporary expansion during the Great War to the active-duty military). It won votes only for women who owned property and were over 30. All men over 21 had the right to vote, but it would be ten more years before all women in Britain over 21 had the right to vote; it had to wait for the death of Emmeline Pankhurst, who was controversial.

Meanwhile, the death of Inez Milholland and Woodrow Wilson's arrogant response to an appeal to him after her death precipitated picketing of the White House until a harrowed Wilson capitulated and supported the Anthony Amendment. It was passed soon after Wilson supported it and the 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920.

The Weston Library show in Oxford includes banners, texts, medieval bookbindings, photographs, posters, letters, musical scores, and the sole extant edition of the board game “Suffragette”.  The object of the game is for players to get their tokens onto squares representing Albert Hall and the House of Commons.

While you are in Oxford, don't miss the other women's exhibit, "Spellbound", about Magic and Witches, at the Ashmolean, a two-minute walk to the other end of Broad Street, opposite the venerable Randolph Hotel. And, of course, don't miss the Tolkien Exhibit, also at the on-the-ball Weston Library; the Tolkien Exhibit is free but requires a reservation to control the flow. You pay £1 for the reservation or you just show up and queue up and take your chances on getting admitted because when the maximum number of people are let in: They close down the queue. / Don't let that happen to eue!