On this page, dedicated to the 1900s at the University of Groningen we would like to give a brief description of those years, as well as some insight into our search for the students to represent these years
The beginning of the 20th century for Groningen was marked by a great cut of international contact, said contact coming to near a standstill due to the effects of the First World War. During the 1920s and 1930s, students from countries like Indonesia, Suriname, and the Dutch Antilles came to Groningen to study. However, it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that the university saw a significant increase in the number of international students from outside the Dutch Empire, with students from various European and non-European countries enrolling. The Groningen International Student Service played a key role in promoting European student exchange and offering study trips. From the 1980s onwards the University of Groningen developed its own international policy focused on development cooperation with ‘free-market principles and a more commercial approach increasingly gaining ground.’
The beginning of the 21st century witnessed an even greater shift towards a more internationally focused university, the high point of these ambitions being the campus-building project in China. Nonetheless, the failure of this project, the inaction towards the housing crisis, and the reaction to the Occupy Rug protests raise questions on the future of the internationalisation ambitions of the university at the moment. As international students, we hope for the best possible resolution, given the clear-cut international past of the RUG. We also hope that the contribution of this project was of help to this cause.
Given the fact that the student stories of all previous centuries featured only male students (due to the restrictions on the acceptance of female students at the time), here we would like to give some space to highlight the names of the women who came to study in Groningen from abroad from 1900 to 1915 (all found in the Album Studiosorum of the RUG). Women who were not afraid, despite being granted permission to study on a university level only a couple of decades ago (more or less depending on the country), to go and pursue higher education abroad.
Blanche Koerber from Geneva, who studied Lettern (Literature/Languages/History) in 1908
Helene Pauline Jacqueline Ulrique Mussche from Brussels, who studied Lettern in 1909
Anna Eugenie Decorvet from Paris, who studied Lettern in 1909
Melanie Josephine Elsinore Giltay from Porong (Java), who studied Lettern in 1910
Elvira Lujza Flora Valentini from Kolozsvâr, Hungary, who studied Medicine and Nature studies in 1910
Elizabeth Weber-Nienter from Potsdam, who studied Lettern in 1912
The first thing we found out about 20th-century students was the privacy regulations. When corresponding with one of the archivists at the Groningen Archives we were informed that it is forbidden for us to share information about people who have deceased less than 70 years ago without the permission of their relatives.
We knew from that instant that it might be that this century will be the most difficult. How to contact relatives? Where to find them?
We started by searching for names in the Album, as we did with previous students. The limitation we imposed on ourselves was to search for female students mainly, as they were underrepresented in the past centuries. Of the names we have found and you have now viewed, unfortunately, none had extensive background information available online. Our next step was the archives. If we couldn't find information on those students there we could search for students from the later parts of the century as well. Surely, the archives must have some yearbooks in store!
Michal, our team member with the most extensive historical research background was put in charge. For two days he buried himself in the archives, browsing through decades worth of yearbooks. The challenge was that during the world wars and just after there weren't many internationals in Groningen. From the 1960s onwards, however, the first names and regions of origin of the students ceased to be included in the books. As a result, it was extremely difficult to tell apart Dutch and international students. Thus, after two days of full immersion, and with plenty of help from the archivists, Michal was able to find no more than three students of interest. All three were traced through various media, predominantly LinkedIn, and contacted as soon as possible. A few days passed, a week... Reminder messages were sent to all... All to no avail.
As archives were exhausted as a source, the only thing left was the media source we used for contacting the RUG alumni. LinkedIn. Throughout the latter ter half of March and most of April, we spent hours searching for alumni from different years, living alumni whom we could contact. More than 10 applicable international students were found and messaged. Unfortunately, that too did not amount to anything. As the last dates applicable for ordering banners neared we came to a dating understanding: we will not have the students we want. The 20th-century section, unfortunately, will be empty.
We nonetheless decided to include this page, with the information we could gather on the subject. We sincerely hope that this was of interest to you!