At the end of the 19th century all over America and Europe women attempted to liberate themselves from the shackles of Victorian conventions. The Socialistic and Reform Movement arose, while Feminism fought fervently for equal rights for men and women. By 1902, women were moving tentatively in the male professional world. They were in need of a platform and distinguished accommodation to present and exchange their ideas at for instance the cities of Leeuwarden, Dordrecht, Deventer, Utrecht, Arnhem and The Hague.
In 1904 in The Hague Mrs. Mientje Mesdag, wife of a famous Dutch painter, established “Our Club” at her residence which could be visited by men and women. Soon after the club moved to the Royal Theatre. In the meantime Ms. Mia Boissevain and Ms. Rosa Manus, inspired by Constance Smedley, organised in the Hague an exhibition “Women 1813-1913”. This led to initiatives to establish women clubs. World War I, however, broke down these first attempts. But this war definitely changed the position of women. In 1919 the Dutch women obtained the right to vote. The universal suffrage was determined in the Constitution in 1922.
After long deliberations the LC Amsterdam was founded in 1923. Nijmegen followed in 1925 and Groningen in 1929. In their first year, 1924, the Club decided to join the International Association of Lyceum Clubs (IALC) in imitation of the club in The Hague. This entry gave access to the facilities of Lyceum clubs all over the world. Nijmegen didn’t wait long to follow. On September 18, 1930, the Dutch Federation was founded with the object to stimulate co-operation between those clubs which in their Principles agreed with those of the IALC(Head Office in London, England). Groningen followed suite.
The Lyceum clubs have a cultural and social character. The structure of the clubs was in general the same. Club Committees were supported by sub-committees to organize monthly luncheon meetings often followed by lectures given by distinguished speakers, literary circles in native and foreign languages, and members shared their interests in bridge, checkers, painting, walking, music, art, theatre, film and visits to exhibitions and other recreational activities. Information was communicated by Club Bulletins. A Sympathy Committee supported ill, weaker and elderly members. The clubs published an Annual Report. This structure is maintained up to the present in all Lyceum clubs. Archives nowadays are or will be stored in city archives.
All clubs strived for possessing own club buildings. In The Hague a new initiative from the female members resulted in January 1921 in the foundation of the “Society: Club House for Women” (Vereeniging: Clubgebouw voor Vrouwen). They bought two club houses at Lange Vijverberg, Nr 6 and 7. In February 1922 this Club was officially opened and counted 400 members. In 1924 Amsterdam obtained two beautiful houses at Keizersgracht Nr 580 and 582. It offered its members a restaurant and hotel accommodation with twelve rooms. December 1924 the club counted 511 members. The LC Nijmegen succeeded in incorporating the city’s former “Leesmuseum” (Reading museum) and in 1925 had its own building at Sloetstraat. In 1929 the LC Groningen rented a stately building in the centre of the city. The first years it offered dinner and lodging. After 1929 the world plummeted into war and destruction which had a disastrous effect on all four Lyceum Clubs.
The LC Nijmegen could hardly survive after the war. In 1975 they had to look for more sober accommodation on a rental basis. But the worst happened to the LC Groningen: during the liberation of the city of Groningen in April 1945 their rented house was totally destroyed. Life had changed significantly during and after the war.
In The Hague the Club developed in a different direction and left the IALC in the early sixties. By 1949, after a huge declination in membership before the war, the membership of the LC Amsterdam had risen to 500 again. However in 1971 the Club Committee had to decide to sell the houses. The members moved in on a rental basis with the male sanctuary “De Industrieele Club” at Dam Square.
In 1929 the Lyceum Club of The Hague hosted the Congress of the International Association. LC Amsterdam was the host-city in 1977.
In 2009 LC Bretagne Nord (France) took the initiative to put new life in its twinning with LC Amsterdam which resulted in a renewal of a warm friendship. Since 1988 LC Groningen is twinning with LC Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle, Germany) with which they meet every two years for a few days in friendship. Since 2012, LC of Nijmegen [the Netherlands] and the LC of Frankfurt Rhein-Main [Germany] have been twinned.
All three Lyceum Clubs of Amsterdam, Nijmegen and Groningen are thriving and their members meet each year in autumn during “Contact Day” organised by one of the Clubs.