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Archiving email of leading scholars

One of the tasks of Leiden University Libraries is to manage academic heritage, including letters and scholarly archives of leading researchers. Much of this material is nowadays created digitally and email is one of the main forms of communication. Hence, the UBL launched a pilot for acquiring and sustainably managing email archives, and ultimately for making them available.

Email archiving
The letter collections and scholarly archives kept at the Special Collections are an indispensable source for the study of the development of education and research in the different faculties of Leiden University. Moreover, they contribute to the understanding of the development of science in various fields in general, both nationally and internationally. In order to also facilitate this type of research in the future, the UBL has started a pilot for archiving emails. Explored is what adjustments should be made to existing processes and technical infrastructure to efficiently acquire, process and manage email archives and to make them available. The pilot focuses primarily on the email archives of Leiden professors and in cooperation with some of them it will be examined how their digital material, including emails, could be incorporated in the collections of the UBL.

Letter collections and archives
According to a rough estimate the western manuscripts collections and archives of the UBL contain some 500,000 letters. Much of it consists of learned correspondence, for instance of Justus Lipsius (1547-1696), Carolus Clusius (1526-1609) and Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), but also of more modern scholars like Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) and Heiko Miskotte (1894-1976). Another major component consists of literary correspondence, mostly housed in the collection of the Society of Dutch Literature (MNL). Also in various archives correspondence can be found, such as in the archives of the publishers Sijthoff and Bohn, but also in the University archives and those of Leiden professors.