A blog about (hidden) Amsterdam


A blog about (hidden) Amsterdam

Famous Amsterdam Women

Throughout the centuries, there have been badass women in Amsterdam who impacted both the country and the world. Here are ten of Amsterdam’s famous women – and those who should be!


Aletta Jacobs

Badass Women Storytelling Walk subject Aletta Jacobs

Kicking open the doors for Dutch women to enroll in university in 1871 was just the beginning for this international activist. After becoming the country’s first female doctor, she spent her life fighting for women’s right to vote, better labor conditions for everyone, and an international framework for peace.


Anne Frank

1942 Passport photo of Anne Frank
Anne Frank Stichting

Her diary describing her experience of Nazi occupation has been read by millions. What some people don’t realize, however, is that the burgeoning writer intended for at least some of it to be read. Towards what would be the end of her time in confinement, she rewrote parts of her diary with an eye towards sharing it when the war was over. Her writing continues to affect readers to this day.


Dirkje Kuik

Portrait of Dirkje Kuik among her books

Stichting Dirkje KuikThe 20th-century author, poet and artist became well-known across the country under the male name she was born with. That meant that she was already in the public eye when she transitioned, including getting gender-confirming surgery. In 1985, she won a case at the Dutch Supreme Court that established the right to change your name and gender on government records.


Eva Poetiray

She was an active member of an Indonesian student group in Amsterdam that turned into a Resistance cell when the Nazis invaded. After the war, she used her connections from the Resistance to advocate for Indonesian independence. When the Netherlands tried to reconquer the country, she joined many from her Resistance cell in returning to Indonesia.


Frieda Belinfante

LGBTQ+ History Tour heroine Frieda Belinfante
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

If the Nazi invasion had never happened, Frieda still would have been groundbreaking as the first woman in Europe to lead an orchestra and a string of romances with women. In the Resistance, Frieda forged documents and helped blow up Amsterdam’s city registry. After the war, she moved to California and started the Orange County Philharmonic.


Hermina Huiswoud

NYU Collections

This international activist crossed borders to fight injustice. She started in New York’s Harlem Renaissance by working for the NAACP. From there, she translated and wrote for the Negro Worker, which she and her husband smuggled through Europe. When they landed in Amsterdam after the war, they set about strengthening the city’s growing Surinamese community.


Major Alida Bosshardt

Just two years after her 2007 death, Amsterdammers voted Major Bosshardt as the greatest Amsterdammer of all time. She spent her entire adult life trying to care for the poor, including the underworld in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. She did it without judging anyone and with a smile on her face.


Maria Sybilla Merian

Linnaeus based his classification of insects on her work. Part scientist, part artist, her drawings depicted insects at every stage of their life cycle, along with their food. She broke a lot of myths along the way, about insect development and about what women were capable of.


Maria Tesselschade and Anna Roemers Visscher

Muiderslot Museum

These two writers spent a good part of their lives at the heart of Amsterdam’s literary circle during the 17th-century cultural flourishing.  Maria’s poetry was incredibly popular, and her wit inspired male and female writers of future generations. Anna translated the work of other female writers, fostering international literary connections.


Rachel Ruysch

While Amsterdam has been home to a number of female artists, this 18th-century badass did it on her own terms. She became one of the most famous still life painters, charging high fees and taking her time to produce exactly the painting she wanted. She continued painting until her death at 84 years of age.



There are whole books of amazing female Amsterdammers – and most of these women could have multiple books about them. If you want to learn more, why not check out our Women’s History Tour or our Self-guided Touring app?

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