Historical Images That Make Your Family History Come To Life

The National Dutch Archives probably host the largest collection historical documents of the Netherlands. It preserves the archives of the Dutch Government and those of social institutions or people that have been of any significance to Dutch history.

Among a lot of other things they have an image bank that contains almost half a million pictures of historical places, people and documents. This is great material to illustrate a certain period or place related to your ancestors. And if one of your ancestors did anything significant to Dutch history you might even find pictures concerning them as well.


Image Bank Collections
So what exactly does that huge image bank contain? The primary collections are the following:

  • 346.000 press photographs for the period 1945-1989
  • 5.048 pictures of the Labor Inspection Department for the period 1900-1955, containing images of work environments, especially industry.
  • 7.246 pictures of the Dutch military campaigns in Indonesia between 1946-1950.
  • 47.000 press photos of the social/political magazine Elsevier for the period 1900-1980.
  • 1300 pictures of the Royal Dutch Soccer Association 1894-1946.
  • 27.000 government images on agriculture, fishery, industry and such for the period 1910-1970
  • Original maps of the Dutch East India Company (VOC)
  • Land Registry Department maps for South Holland.
  • Administration of the KNVB, the Royal Dutch Soccer Association
  • Staff records for Dutch East Indies government personnel for the period 1912-1952.

Using The Image Bank
Although the web site offers a button that says "English", be aware that this only affects the interface. All results are still presented in Dutch. Searching the image bank is pretty straightforward:

  1. Go to www.gahetna.nl/collectie/afbeeldingen
  2. Press English in the upper menu.
  3. Click the link for either photographs or maps.
  4. Type a keyword in the search field on the left and hit search.
  5. The results will appear in the main window.
  6. Click on a picture to see its details.
  7. If a shopping cart appears alongside the picture's details you can order a copy of it online.

Try searching for your ancestors surname, place of birth/marriage/death, occupation or historical event during his or her lifetime. Who knows what you may find!