Universiteit Leiden

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University and Student Life

The theme ‘University and Student Life' focuses on the history and development of Leiden University, its network of scholars and its student life. The growth of the University as a centre of expertise begins in the early modern period (1575) and continues to the present and must be viewed in conjunction with the development of knowledge in local, national and international societal and economic contexts.

This field of interest is firmly rooted in a rich history. Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands, is famous for its alumni and professors, amongst whom Justus Lipsius, Josephus Justus Scaliger, Christiaan Huygens, Herman Boerhaave, Johan Huizinga and Hendrik Oort, to name but a few. The Academic Historical Museum and the Special Collections of Leiden University Libraries represent, manage and exhibit a wide range of extraordinary collection items.

Leiden’s academic heritage is a rich source for research into the university and includes publications and theses, manuscripts, professors’ archives  but also documents regarding the governance and administration of the university and its international contacts. There are also many documents regarding its foundation and the buildings of related institutions and institutes such as the Leiden Observatory, the Hortus Botanicus, the library, the University Hospital or laboratories.

A special category is that of objects reflecting Leiden’s student life. It contains material drawn from various study associations and student societies, including items from cultural, international, sports or female student organizations and material on student activities like the annual costumed parades in the nineteenth century or during and after the period of democratization.

Although the larger part of Leiden’s academic heritage consists of paper documents, visual objects such as documentary photography and portraits of professors (domain Paintings and Prints and Photography) play a major role in the visibility, inclusivity and development of the public perception of Leiden University. The importance of this role is underscored by the recent addition of a large number of portraits of female professors to the Senate Room of the Academy Building.

Today Leiden University develops and promotes outstanding academic research based on and using the latest technologies. The results of this research in digital form constitutes the academic heritage of today and the future and is made up of e-publications, digital visual material, databases and e-mail correspondence.

The theme ‘University and Student Life’ is a valuable resource for students, lecturers and researchers involved in long-term or short-term research and education but also has much to offer to a wider interested public largely made up of alumni and residents of Leiden.

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