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Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië, Photographs Collection

Identifier: ubl161

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily holds art and archaeology-related sepia-tinted and black-and-white photographs of antiquities of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Madura and Kalimantan and the Moluccas. The photographs were frequently taken during excavation or restoration work.

This collection is part of the ubl159 Kern Institute Photography Collections .


  • 1863-1956
  • Bulk 1913-1941

Conditions Governing Use

Regulations that apply during the use of these materials can be found on the website of Leiden University Library. Special regulations apply to photographs, primarily an extra waiting period of 24 hours to bridge the difference in temperature and relative humidity between the stacks and the reading room.

Biographical / Historical

In 1925 the Dutch Ministry of Colonies presented a considerable set of photographic prints created under the auspices of the Archaeological Survey of the Netherlands Indies (Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië) to the University of Leiden. The photographs were to be housed in the recently-founded Kern Institute in Leiden for educational and research purposes. The acquisition of this set of so-called OD photographs took place at the initiative of Nicolaas Johannes Krom (1883-1945), who, together with Jean Philippe Vogel (1871-1958), was one of the two founding fathers of the Kern Institute.

Krom was well aware of the contents and the invaluable importance of the collection. In 1910 he had been appointed in Batavia (Jakarta) as chairman of the in 1901 founded Commissie in Nederlandsch-Indië voor Oudheidkundig Onderzoek op Java en Madoera (Commission for Archaeological Survey in Java and Madura), and he was the intellectual moving force behind the Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië (Archaeological Service in the Netherlands East Indies) which was established by Government Decree of 14 June 1913. Krom was its first director, a function he held until he returned to the Netherlands in early 1916.

In 1925 the Kern Institute series must have held some 7,000 prints; by the late 1950s the number was over 21,000. Nevertheless, the collection still shows some gaps.


21.800 photographs (circa)

Language of Materials



De Leidse Collectie foto’s van de Oudheidkundige Dienst in vooroorlogs Nederlands-Indië en naoorlogs Indonesië werd opgebouwd tussen 1901 en 1956. De collectie bevat tevens reprints van waardevolle opnamen van vóór 1901, waaronder foto’s van Isidore van Kinsbergen en Woodbury & Page. De sepia getinte en zwart-wit foto’s zijn middels meerdere fotografische procedé’s gemaakt. Ze documenteren Hindoe-Boeddhistische en Islamitische oudheden, opgravingen, restauratiewerkzaamheden, kunstobjecten en etnografica in musea en in situ, inscripties en ook inheemse en koloniale gebouwen uit moderne tijden van Sumatra, Java, Madura, Bali, Kalimantan en de Molukken.


The Collection Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië (Archaeological Survey of the Netherlands Indies), and post-World War II Dinas Purbakala Republik Indonesia, was formed between 1901 and 1956. However, also reprints of pre-1901 photographs were included, among others photographs by Isidore van Kinsbergen and Woodbury & Page. The sepia-tinted and black-and-white photographs, produced in various techniques, document Hindu-Buddhist and Islamic antiquities, prehistoric sites, excavations, restorations, archeological art and ethnological artefacts in situ and in museums, inscriptions, and indigenous and colonial buildings from modern times recorded in Sumatra, Java, Madura, Bali, Kalimantan and the Moluccas.

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Inventories of the photographs were regularly published in the annual reports of the Commissie and the Oudheidkundige Dienst. See:

  1. Rapporten van de Commissie in Nederlandsch-Indië voor Oudheidkundig Onderzoek op Java en Madoera, (1901-1912)
  2. Oudheidkundig verslag van den Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië, (1913-1950)

A copy of the inventories is available in the reading room of Special Collections.

See also Digital Collections.

Custodial History

The Collection Photographs Oudheidkundige Dienst (OD) was predominantly facilitated or brought together by the Dutch Ministry of Colonial Affairs, Jean Philippe Vogel (1871-1958), Nicolaas Johannes Krom (1883-1945), Frederik David Kan Bosch (1886-1967) and A.J. Bernet Kempers (1906-1992).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Collection Photographs Oudheidkundige Dienst (OD), part of the Kern Institute Photography Collections, was presented to the Leiden University Library, section Special Collections, on April 27, 2010.


The OD photographic prints not only systematically document the activities of the Oudheidkundige Dienst van Nederlandsch-Indië, and subsequently of the Dinas Purbakala of the Republic of Indonesia, between 1901 and 1956, but also include reprints of art and archaeology-related activities before 1901. Some 95% of the prints are vintage prints, which makes this considerable body of photographs also interesting for the study of photography as a medium. No other institution in the Netherlands or even Europe holds a similar set of original photographs. All photographs are now preserved in the central University Library.


No future additions are to be expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

In 1983 the greater part (17,606 items) of the Kern Institute’s OD photographs were published on microfiche by IDC (Zug, Switzerland), however without contextual data. In the early 1990s the Kern Institute’s OD collection was re-photographed in the University Library, thus creating a so-called shadow collection of the prints (callnumber Or. 22.308) and a full set of new negatives. The process of digitising the original photographs kept at the Kern Institute started in 2006. Some 15% of the records have a digital image. Also, the epigraphic data were updated. Since 2009 the digital OD collection has migrated into DigiTool and is digitally accessible via Digital Collections.

All digital inventory numbers start with OD- followed by the actual number (starting with OD-1). These numbers were assigned between 1901-1956 and published in the annual reports of the Commission for Archeaological Research [etc.] and Archeological Survey [etc.]: Rapporten van de Commissie in Nederlandsch-Indië voor Oudheidkundig Onderzoek op Java en Madoera (1901-1912), Oudheidkundig verslag van den Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië (1913-1950) and Laporan tahunan (1951-1956).

Related Materials

  1. The Special Collections of the Leiden University Library hold a complete shadow collection of reprints of the original prints, reproduced from a set of newly created negatives (see Or. 22.308).
  2. Collection of 950 photographs of ancient islamic graveyards and gravestones in northern Sumatra (Aceh, Pasai) taken by J.J. de Vink in 1912-1917 on behalf of the Oudheidkundige Dienst (callnumber Or. 23.481). Those photographs are part of the Collection Snouck Hurgronje.
  3. Collection N.J. Krom.

Separated Materials

A second set of vintage photographs is kept at Jakarta, at the Kementerian Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata, Deputi bidang Sejarah dan Purbakala (Ministry of Culture and Tourism, department History and Archaeology).


  • Bernet Kempers, A.J., Herstel in Eigen Waarde : Monumentenzorg in Indonesië. Zutphen 1978, passim.
  • Laporan tahunan (Dinas Purbakala Republik Indonesia), Jakarta 1951-1956 (Annual reports).
  • Lijst der fotografische opnamen [no. 1-4162] van de Oudheidkundige Commissie [en Oudheidkundige Dienst], 1901-1911 [1919], Batavia 1919.
  • Oudheidkundig verslag van den Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië, Batavia1913-1950 (Annual reports).
  • Pott, P.H., Indices op de Officieele Publicaties betreffende de Oudheden van Nederlandsch-Indië 1901-1947, Leiden 1947.
  • Rapporten van de Commissie in Nederlandsch-Indië voor Oudheidkundig Onderzoek op Java en Madoera, Batavia 1901-1912 (Annual reports).


The material in this collection can be requested at the Special Collections Reading Room, presenting inventory numbers starting with OD-.

Processing Information

The Collection OD photographs was held and curated by the Kern Institute from its very foundation. The collection was -and still is- organised according to the date of entry in the reports of the Archaeological Survey. Quarterly lists of newly photographed archaeological and historical remains, miscellaneous antiquities and artefacts were published in the annual reports of the Commission for Archeaological Research [etc.] and of the Archeological Survey [etc.]: Rapporten van de Commissie in Nederlandsch-Indië voor Oudheidkundig Onderzoek op Java en Madoera (1901-1912), Oudheidkundig verslag van den Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië (1913-1950) and Laporan tahunan (1951-1956). P.H. Pott compiled an index up to 1947.

In the 1990s all metadata (item descriptions) were digitised at the Leiden University Library and hosted in an In Vision database, destined for local use. In 2005 this database was converted into DigiBeeld on the initiative of the Kern Institute and made accessible via the internet. Since 2009, data are digitally accessible via Digitool in Digital Collections. So far, 15% of the images have been scanned.

Beschrijving van de collection Photographs Oudheidkundige Dienst in Nederlandsch-Indië
Gerda Theuns-de Boer (Marie-Odette Scalliet, ed.), 2012
Language of description
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Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het Engels.

Revision Statements

  • 22 October 2012: latest update

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

Leiden Witte Singel 27 2311 BG Netherlands
+31 71 527 2857