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Dutch colonial map collection of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)

Identifier: ubl659

Scope and Contents

The Dutch colonial map collection of the Royal Tropical Institute consists of ca. 11,500 map sheets and 293 atlases, mainly concerning the Dutch East Indies. (About 700 map sheets concern Suriname and 300 map sheets the Netherlands Antilles.)

For a large part, the collection is based on donations. An important gift was a collection of ca. 2.600 map sheets of the Topographical Service (Topografische Dienst) at Weltevreden (near Batavia) in 1927. In 1947 a collection of 1.543 map sheets and 13 terrain studies of the allied forces from the period 1942-1945 was donated by Hubertus Johannes van Mook, lieutenant-governor-general of the Dutch East Indies. In 1949, just before the transfer of sovereignty, a part of the map archive of the Geographical Institute of the Topographical Service in Batavia was transferred to the Netherlands by its director Ferdinand Jan Ormeling sr. About half of that collection was placed at the Royal Tropical Institute. Among the top pieces of the collection the manuscript example of the 8-sheet map of the Dutch East Indies by Gijsbert Franco baron Von Derfelden van Hinderstein (1839) and the 27 manuscript sheets of the map of Suriname by Johan François Adriaan Cateau van Rosevelt (1860-1879) can be counted. Special atlases are the non-published Atlas van de wereld naar de laatste ontdekkingen of Jacob Kuyper (1858) and a loose-leaf series of Isaac Tirion's Nieuwe en beknopte hand-atlas (1731-1769).


  • Creation: 1630-1972
  • Creation: Bulk 1815-1949


Conditions Governing Use

Regulations that apply for the use of these materials can be found on the website of Leiden University Library.

Biographical / Historical

The Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam is an independent center of knowledge and expertise in the areas of international and intercultural cooperation. The history of the collection dates back to 1864 with the foundation in Haarlem of the Colonial Museum. Parts of the collection can be traced back to the Hollandsche Maatschappij van Wetenschappen (Dutch Society of Sciences), in particular to the department Koophandel en Colonies (Trade and Colonies), founded in 1777. In 1913 the collection was transferred to the Colonial Institute, founded in 1910 in Amsterdam. After the 1949 transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia the mission of the Royal Institute was altered and the name changed to Royal Tropical Institute. Since then, its library collected materials relating to all tropical regions.


11,793 items

Language of Materials

No linguistic content; Not applicable

Abstract in Dutch

Veruit het grootste deel van de koloniale kaartcollectie van het Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen heeft betrekking op Nederlands Indië. Daarnaast zijn er ongeveer 700 kaartbladen van Suriname en 300 kaartbladen van de Nederlands Antillen.

Abstract in English

The larger part of the Dutch colonial map collection of the Royal Tropical Institute refers to the Dutch East Indies. Besides, there are about 700 map sheets of Suriname and 300 map sheets of the Netherlands Antilles.

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

The collection is accessible via the online catalogue and almost completely via Digital Collections. The Royal Tropical Institute built a special map viewer with geographical search options for this collections, which is still accessible via Colonial Maps (KIT).

Custodial History

For a large part, the map collection of the Royal Tropical Institute is based on gifts.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

After the library of the Royal Tropical Institute was closed down in 2013, its colonial heritage collection was housed at Leiden University Libraries, as a state loan. The colonial map collection is part of this loan.


No future additions are to be expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

The collection is almost completely digitized and accessible via Digital Collections.

Related Materials

The collection is related to the Post-colonial map collection of the Royal Tropical Institute (ubl660) and the Coomans-Eustatia Maps Collection (ubl294). Together these collections formed the map collection of the Royal Tropical Institute. A similar collection is the Map collection of the Royal Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) (ubl650). The Collection J.T. Bodel Nijenhuis (ubl068) and the Ministerie van Zaken Overzee maps collection (ubl293) also contain a significant number of maps of the (former) Dutch colonies.


  • Levi, P., Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen. Een ontdekkingsreis door de koloniale collectie van de kaartenzaal, in: GIN publicatiereeks 3 (2007), pp. 23-32.
  • Levi, P., Kaartencollecties in Nederland. Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen (KIT) in Amsterdam, in: Caert-Thresoor 31 (2012), 3: pp. 93-94.
  • Storms, M., UB Leiden zet Azië op de kaart, in: Geo-Info 11 (2014), 2, pp. 34-37.
  • Tieleman, J., Een nieuwe toekomst voor de koloniale kaarten:, in: GIN publicatiereeks 3 (2007), pp. 39-44.


The material can be requested in the online catalogue. It can be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Processing Information

The map sheets and atlases in this collection got the call numbers KK 001-01-01 to KK 170-05-10 and KK ATL 001 to KK ATL 293.

Collection guide of the Dutch colonial map collection of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) (1630-1972)
Collectie Nederlandse koloniale kaarten van het Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen (KIT)
Martijn Storms
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

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