Holland’s First Female Watchmaker

Ten Boom was born on April 15, 1892, in Haarlem, in the Netherlands. Before her first birthday, her grandfather died and left his home and watchmaking business, founded in 1837, to her father. The family, which included older sisters Betsie and Nollie, and a brother, Willem, moved into the the ten Boom hiding Place on Barteljorisstraat 19, and her father took over the storefront business below. The family lived in a quirky warren of rooms above the shop over three separate floors, and Corrie Ten Boom, she and her sister Betsie shared a room at the back of the house on a high third floor. During their youth, the household also included three aunts, who helped care for the four ten Boom children.

Like Betsie, ten Boom never married, and eventually joined her father’s watch sales and repair business. She also became the first licensed woman watchmaker in the Netherlands. The family members were devout Christians, active members of the Dutch Reformed church, and ten Boom followed in the footsteps of one of her aunts and participated in several charitable aid projects in Haarlem. The ten Boom home and business served as a hub of activity in their neighborhood, and they regularly provided a meal to beggars and took in foster children. All the local children were especially fond of ten Boom’s pious but genial father, Casper, nicknamed “Opa,” or grandfather.

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