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Subject guide

South and Southeast Asian photography

The photo collection of South and Southeast Asia contains material collected by the Kern Institute and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV). In addition to photo prints in various techniques, the collection also includes (lantern) slides, picture postcards and negatives. The material consists of both commercially produced photos by professional photographers, and snapshots by enthusiastic amateurs.

Since the opening of the Kern Institute in 1925, photographic material was collected in addition to publications for the library. The photo collection is part of the University Library since 2010 and comprises approximately 70,000 photographic prints and 100,000 slides. The geographic scope is enormous, from Uzbekistan to Sri Lanka and from India to Indonesia. Founding father of the Institute, prof. dr. J.Ph. Vogel (1871-1958) and prof. dr. N.J. Krom (1883-1945) collected the first photos. Since both scholars were involved in archaeological research in India and the Dutch East Indies, the photographs documented the antiquities of both areas in particular. The photographs were obtained from the renowned Archaeological Survey of India and the Archaeological Service (Oudheidkundige Dienst) in the Dutch Indies. In addition to these photographs, which are mainly archaeological in nature, the collection also contains commercially produced photographs. Pictures from photographers such as Woodbury & Page, Clifton & Co., and Skeen & Co.

With the addition of the photo collection of the former Institute for South Asian Archeology in Amsterdam (BAKA) in 1995, the image collection of the Kern Institute doubled. This collection was compiled between 1950 and 1985. Prof. J.E. van Lohuizen-de Leeuw was in charge of the institute for a long time. Apart from photos made by her, the BAKA collection also includes photo material from, for example, diplomat Yves Coffin and photographer Gerard Foekema.

More than 60% of the collection is described in the online catalogue; about 15% of the Kern collection is digitally available in the image database Digital Collections. 

The photo collection Southeast Asia focuses on material from the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia. Some of the photographs have been collected by the Kern Institute, such as photos by the Archaeological Service (Oudheidkundige Dienst). By far the largest part of this collection comes from the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV). In 2014 the KITLV collection was moved to the University Library.

The KITLV started collecting photographs in the 1890s. With the appointment of Gerret Pieter Rouffaer as deputy secretary in 1898, the library collection and therefore the photo collection grew considerably. The collection holds a large number of photographs from famous photographers such as Woodbury & Page, Kassian C├ęphas and Benjamin Nieuwenhuis. Apart from these commercial photographs, the collections holds snapshots as well, for example as part of family and travel albums.

The Southeast Asia photo collection also includes images from the mainland, such as town views of Singapore and Malaysia , type photography from Borneo and temples from Thailand and Burma.

About 200,000 photos are available online in the image database Digital Collections. 

Online catalogue
The photo collections of the Kern Institute and KITLV are accessible through the catalogue. The catalogue in addition contains references to the collection guides of the different (sub)collections and archives.

Digital Collections
The KITLV photo collection is available in its entirety in the Digital Collections. Part of the Kern photo collection is accessible using the same image database. In total, over 220,000 photos are available digitally.

Due to copyright restrictions, part of the photo collections can only be viewed by connecting to the University's wifi network (eduram, Leiden University, or NUWD-Laptop) in one of the University's buildings in Leiden and The Hague.

Collection guides
A collection guide describes the contents of a collection or archive and provides further information on the history and acquisition of the material. The collection guides (and inventories) are fully searchable using the search portal Collection Guides.

More extensive information on using the online catalogue, collection guides and the Digital Collections can be found under Accessing Special Collections.

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