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Roman Catholic daughters

Roomse dochters, Katholieke vrouwen en hun beweging

Marjet Derks, Catharina Halkes, Annelies van Heyst

Arbor, Baarn, 1992

ISBN 90 5158 047 9

Based on interviews with 12 women who were active in women’s organisations, in politics and journalism, they paint a picture of Catholic women’s culture in the 20th century. A mixture of oral history and sleuthing in archives; and as far as that oral transmission is concerned barely in time.


Women have been greatly underexposed in the historiography of 20th-century Dutch Catholicism. When attention was paid to them, the emphasis was on experiences of sexuality and motherhood. This gave rise to stereotypical images of the passive, meek and sacrificial woman.
Yet women did play an active role in Catholic social and church life. In ‘Roman Daughters’, 12 women are portrayed. They have, each in their own way, taken initiatives and held leadership positions in women’s and standing organisations, politics and journalism. The portraits have been compiled from archive and interview material and are accompanied by an afterthought.
The women in this book appear not to have been so expectant and docile. They gave a hand to their destiny, when necessary. Also, the wrinkle-free, uniform image of ‘the’ Catholic woman turns out to be a caricature. For the first time, this book reveals the differences by class or position among Catholic women. Making these differences visible is in line with the trend within women’s history to present a more differentiated picture of women’s past.