On October 17, 1871 the Algemeene Nederlandsche Vrouwenvereeniging "Arbeid Adelt" was founded by Betsy Perk (1853-1906). The objective was quite revolutionary for that time. Betsy wanted to give women of the middle and higher social classes the opportunity to work for money. In those days the so called "civilised women" were deemed to dedicate their lives to those of their husbands and children. For those who did not marry, work as a governess, caring for elderly relatives or piano playing awaited.

Thanks to Betsy Perks' initiative a handicraft fair was organised in Delft on December 7, 1871. A particular aspect thereof was that the names of the handicraft women were disclosed on the work produced. This meant a courageous step by these women who openly admitted that they wanted to earn money. The fair was a great success. The newspapers were full of the event and even Queen Sophie was present and later everyone talked about it. Moreover, the queen decided to become the patroness of the young association thus supporting the work of Betsy Perk. However within the association "Arbeid Adelt" conservative forces were active and after fierce discussions "Tesselschade" split off from the association. In "Tesselschade" civilised women could sell handicraft without disclosing their name.

In the decades after the incorporation both associations continued working on the path chosen by themselves. The number of women applying for financial support increased. This number grew dramatically when the associations started giving grants to women who wanted to follow a professional training. The associations acted for many years as intermediaries for "civilised women" who were looking for a job. Tesselschade even had special intermediary offices. This association also organised the training "Help for the Mother", which was meant for nannies.

In the First and Second World Wars the associations continued their work adapted to the circumstances. In the years after World War II and in accordance with the spirit of reconstruction, the idea of a merger was born. This idea was also related to a "hands-on" future. The social circumstances for women had changed and more and more women found a paid job. After a successful "needle fair" in 1947 - for which also Queen Wilhelmina and Princess Juliana lent their handicraft - a merger decision was taken in principle. After lengthy discussions about organisational matters the merger became a fact: on January 1, 1953 "Tesselschade-Arbeid Adelt" was born.

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