The Nationaal Archief photograph collection
The Nationaal Archief holds millions of historical photographs and negatives. We estimate the total number of photographs, negatives and slides to be around 14 million. The collection expanded massively when the Spaarnestad photographic archive was transferred to us in 2009-2011.
Background to the photograph collection
The Nationaal Archief acquired the photographic archive of the Netherlands Government Information Service in 1996. This marked a new phase in our collection policy; at the time, looking after photograph collections was not considered to be the job of a state archives department. But these days we can’t even begin to imagine the collection without photographs and other visual material. The millions of photographs have significant documentary and visual value and are an important addition to the written word in the archives.
How to access the photographs
Some of the photographs in the collection are part of the regular archives held by the Nationaal Archief and others belong to a specific photograph collection. For example, there are photographs in regular digital archives such as the Central Archives for Special Criminal Jurisdiction (Centraal Archief Bijzondere Rechtspleging), the archives of the House of Representatives of the States-General, various ministries or in private archives. You can find the photographs using the descriptions in the archive inventories. But by no means all the photographs are listed individually. In some cases the photographs are archived in separate photograph collections which can be accessed via the Image Library and via a different archive inventory.
The photograph collections at gahetna.nl
At gahetna.nl you will find photographs of events that took place during the period 1865 to 1990. The website contains about 500,000 photographs in total. Not all the visual material is available in high resolution yet. As part of the ‘Images of the Future’ project, we are obtaining central government funding which will enable us to increase the number of high resolution images to 1.2 million over the next two years.
Important photograph collections at gahetna.nl
- Health and Safety Inspectorate
- Army Contact Service Indonesia
- Deli Maatschappij
- Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) photo albums
- Royal Netherlands Land Development Society
- Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management
- Van de Poll
This collection comes from the former photo agency known as Algemeen Nederlandsch Fotobureau (Anefo) and contains about 346,000 images. The subjects are highly diverse and cover the period from 1945 to about 1989. The original idea was to document the liberation, destruction and reconstruction of the Netherlands. Later the scope was widened: from sporting events to the construction of the Delta Works and from fashion shows to animals in Artis, the Amsterdam zoo There are photographs of almost every newsworthy event from that period. The agency had a large number of photographers on its books.
The collection of the Health and Safety Inspectorate (Arbeidsinpectie) was built up during its investigations of working conditions at various companies during the period 1900-1955. This collection contains 5,048 photographs. It contains many pictures of machinery, incidents and accidents, but also some fascinating snapshots of now defunct industries.
The Army Contact Service Indonesia orDienst voor Legercontacten(DLC) was tasked with keeping troops in the Dutch East Indies informed about military and political events. To the outside world the service’s remit was to provide information on operations and events in the army. This collection contains photographs from the Dutch military campaigns in Indonesia in 1946-1950. The 7,264 photographs now in the image library are comprehensively documented. A further 28,000 images are to be added. The Nationaal Archief owns the negatives of these photographs. They are being digitised for the ‘Images for the Future’ project.
Deli Maatschappij NV is a large company that had its origins in tobacco. It has since gone on to develop many other lines of business and has opened subsidiaries all over the world. The company’s archive contains individual photographs and a considerable number of photo albums, most of which relate to the former Dutch East Indies. The photographs are about more than just the company's activities: many also document the country and the people. The collection contains about 5,000 photographs.
The Elsevier collection comprises about 47,000 photographs taken during the period 1900-1980. Most of the photographs have previously appeared in the magazinesde PrinsandWereldkroniek. It is a highly diverse collection with subjects ranging from politicians and royalty to storm disasters, transport and art.
The Royal Dutch Football Association’s photograph collection contains photographs of the Dutch national team during the period 1894-1946. The photographs come from photo albums compiled by the KNVB, which provide precise details of every match, the names of all the players, and the scores. This information can also be found in the Image Library. In the photographs you can see images of the team’s matches and tours of various countries. The collection contains 1,300 photographs.
The collection of the Royal Netherlands Land Development Society (Nederlandse Heidemaatschappij) covers the period 1910-1970 and contains about 27,000 images. It provides a good overview of all possible aspects of the society’s work. The collection includes images of land development, land consolidation and unemployment relief work, as well as images of fish farming, waste processing, plants and trees, agricultural machinery and industrial buildings.
This is a small but very special collection, containing as it does pictures dating back to the period 1865-1918! The collection contains 878 photographs of a wide range of water engineering and other work done by Rijkswaterstaat, from bridges to sea defences, and from locks to ports.
This collection was compiled from the work of photographer Willem van de Poll (1895-1970) and contains about 29,000 images. After a brief spell with the police, Van de Poll went to Vienna to train as a photographer. He worked as a photojournalist forBerliner Tageblatt, Associated Press, Philips and the Dutch resistance group Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten. He also worked for a while as a freelance photographer in London. Willem van de Poll is often described as one of the first travelling photojournalists. So the subjects in this collection are many and varied. What makes this collection special are the pictures taken abroad (including the Middle East, Israel, Suriname, Indonesia and the Netherlands Antilles), but also the many photographs of different aspects of daily life.
This vast collection contains images from newspapers, magazines, publishing houses and photograph agencies. It centres on the photographic archive of the Haarlem-based Roman Catholic publishing companyDe Spaarnestad(later VNU, now Sanoma). The collection contains more than 1,500 bound volumes of magazine series. In these illustrated magazines you can see pictures and slides from the collection in their original context. The photographic archives ofDe Geïllustreerde Pers,HP/De Tijd,Het Parool,Trouw, Elseviers Magazine andHet Leven(1906-1941) are all in this collection, along with the archives of the Protestant magazineDe Spiegel, the Nationaal Foto Persbureau, ’t Sticht, ABC Press and the ANP.