Bergen General Cemetery Bergen, Bergen Municipality, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Annie Adama van Scheltema-Kleefstra (February 25, 1884, Lemmer - March 22, 1977, Amsterdam) was a librarian at the International Institute for Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam. She wrote to Emma Goldman, on June 15, 1938, inviting Alexander Berkman’s papers and Emma Goldman-Alexander Berkman correspondence to be stored at IISH.
Anna Catharina Kleefstra, later known as Annie Adama van Scheltema was the daughter of Jentje Johan Kleefstra (1860-1929), educator and principal, and Elisabeth Klein (1859-after 1907). Annie Kleefstra married Carel Steven Adama van Scheltema (1877-1924), a poet on October 24, 1907 in Amsterdam . This marriage remained childless.
Anna Catharina (Annie) Kleefstra was the oldest daughter of a Frisian socialist educational innovator. She obtained a mo de act of German linguistics and literature and went on to teach at her father's boyhood school in Hilversum. In 1905 she became a member of the Social Democratic Labor Party (SDAP). Two years later, she met the folk poet Carel Steven Adama van Scheltema, also SDAP member. He accepted Annie as his secretary, and she stopped teaching. Half a year after they met, they married. Thanks to an inheritance from her husband, the couple were able to spend years 'on an art trip' to Paris, Florence, Rome, Venice and Munich, until they settled in the artist colony of Bergen in 1913. There they received artists and scientists. "He could work well in the harmonious atmosphere that his wife created," the BWSA said of this childless marriage. Annie Adama van Scheltema was busy organizing soirées, until her husband suddenly died in 1924 after a fall of the stairs.
After the death of her husband, 40-year-old Annie Adama van Scheltema was now living in Amsterdam. In 1930, after her husband had neglected her assets due to the stock market crisis, she reported to the University Library of Amsterdam, in her own words because she could not do otherwise - she "had to start making money". The library director immediately accepted her as an employee, on condition that she would attend a librarian training. In 1932 she completed her retraining. Then the Social Democrat Nico Posthumus, professor of economic history at the University of Amsterdam and a well-known of the soirées in Bergen, got her two new jobs: one as a librarian at the Economic-Historical Library (EHB) he founded, and one as a party archivist of the SDAP.
The assignment of First Aid librarian Annie Adama van Scheltema consisted of acquiring as many socialist and anarchist libraries as possible and archives of international importance. Because of Hitler's takeover of power, these documents were in danger of being destroyed: many archives and libraries became operational in the early 1930s and what was still there had to be brought to safety. In 1934, Adama van Scheltema attended a congress of the International Alliance of Trade Unions in Paris to the party archive of the German Socialist Party (SPD), which was smuggled out of Berlin in 1933. She was told that the most coveted pieces, the manuscripts of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, had already been brought to safety in Denmark, but that Eastern European exiles wanted to sell their archives to finance a crossing to America. Back in Amsterdam, Adama van Scheltema and Posthumus raised money among individuals, but the return was disappointing. When she had heard at a dinner with her socialist acquaintances that the Central Workers Insurance and Deposit Bank had to invest in cultural activities of the labor movement according to its own statutes, she came up with the idea of approaching the bank on this. Posthumus requested an interview with the bank director, but Adama van Scheltema had to wait in the hallway. The bank director agreed to finance the acquisition of European archives and libraries on the history of socialism and the labor movement, and donated money for the rebuilding of an Amsterdam HBS on the Keizersgracht (no. 264) to a repository: the International Institute for Social History (IISG) opened in 1935, and Adama van Scheltema was appointed as an institute librarian.
Annie Adama van Scheltema has earned herself an extraordinary assertive acquirer of endangered archival and literary heritage. Thanks to her personal efforts at home and abroad, the IISG acquired archive files of monumental historical significance. Her insight into the history of socialism and background as a Germanist made her cut for this task. Moreover, she easily moved among intellectuals, and had both human knowledge and travel experience. After archiving in her own country and visiting Paris, she traveled to Vienna to ask the archivist and historian of the anarchist movement, Max Nettlau in Vienna, to sell his documentation to the IISG - an earlier attempt by Posthumus had failed. She worked for him for seven days: she visited Nettlau in his poor room, lunched with him, talked to him, and eventually won his trust. She managed to have Nettlau's 364 archive boxes transferred to Amsterdam.
In the 1930s Annie Adama van Scheltema proved to be a driven acquirer who was convinced to take irresponsible risks. Posthumus praised her for her 'holy fire'; Nettlau and other Adama van Scheltema approached managers of endangered archival heritage in their correspondence respectfully reiterated their fearlessness. In 1938 she traveled to Vienna again during the Anschluss and returned with a suitcase of manuscripts by Michael Bakoenin. That same year she loaded suitcases with documents of the anarchist and revolutionary Gustav Landauer from Karlsruhe by the German customs. In 1938-1939 she was also in Prague and Belgrade, to collect the archives of Czech socialists and Russian social revolutionaries in exile.
Things went wrong during the occupation. On the night of the capitulation, Adama van Scheltema had still undisturbed dozens of books coming from the canopy of political refugees from the canal, but in June 1940 she received a home visit from SS officers. They heard about secret archive transports to the IISG dependency in Paris, where the archives of the First and Second International layers were stored. The Germans then took everything away and in July also closed the Amsterdam IISG. When the occupier also emptied this institute at the end of 1944, Adama van Scheltema jumped on the bicycle to see how 2,500 archive boxes were loaded into trucks. Immediately after the liberation, she spotted the truck driver through the police. This is how she came to know that the coffins had been set sail. In April 1946, after numerous visits to the Office for the Recovery of Stolen Art Treasures, she learned that the cargo ships with the IISG archives were located at Hanover.
At the IISG Annie Adama van Scheltema focused more on the opening of acquired archives in the post-war years. On December 31, 1953, shortly before her seventieth birthday, Annie Adama van Scheltema retired. Posthumus was now succeeded as an institute director by AJC (Dolf) Rüter, with whom she, as an old servant, could not find it good. She retired and did continue to mediate for the IISG in the acquisition of archivalia, sometimes to the annoyance of the incumbent director. Shortly before her 93rd birthday, Annie Adama van Scheltema arranged her euthanasia. On March 24, 1977, she was buried in Bergen.
Annie Adama van Scheltema-Kleefstra has rightly made her name as the heroine of the IISG collection. Rein van der Leeuw, one of the later directors, typified Annie's presence as an institute librarian: 'People, who have worked closely with her at the IISG, always mention her great workforce and dedication to the Institute. That she had no more imaginable way now is also true. She was a personality who, like the late Bismarck, was more easily obeyed than she could make herself available to others' (Van der Leeuw sr., 139-140).
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