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Key collections

Key collections include Reformation prints, English prints, pamphlets and portraits. Part of the collection can be viewed in full size in the Image Bank.

The special and historical collections consist of 26 separate collections (see overview).

Digital Humanities
Some of our larger subcollections could be interesting for computational forms of research. We have made an overview of, what we think, may be interesting collections for digital humanities projects.

Priorities in the special and historical collections

  • John Bunyan

    Collection of works by the English pious author Johan Bunyan (1628-1688), in English and in translation, with an emphasis on the Dutch. Contains more than one thousand editions, among which 340 are pre 1801; also a great number of publications about Bunyan.
    A unique collection in the Netherlands, which continues to grow.

    Secondary literature
    J.B.H. Alblas and W. Heijting, John Bunyan's Christenreis, 1678-1978, Catalogue exhibition Library Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Amsterdam, Universiteitsbibliotheek Vrije Universiteit, 1978.
    The Bunyan collection in the Library of the Vrije Universiteit: an offprint from the alphabetical catalogue. Amsterdam, 1988.

  • Grotius

    More than 300 editions of works by the lawyer Hugo de Groot (1583-1645), among which 250 early printed editions.

    In addition to legal and constitutional works, the collection contains many (in part rare) editions of theological documents, and is also important as a supplement to the collection of Grotiana in the library of the Vredespaleis.

  • Marnix van Sint Aldegonde

    More than 100 editions of the works by the man of letters and statesman Philips van Marnix van Sint Aldegonde (1540-1598). With ca. 70 early printed editions, of which 35 were published during Marnix's lifetime, one of the largest collections of this Christian author. Two books contain elements documenting the history of ownership, including Marnix van Sint Aldegonde.

  • John Milton

    Largest Milton collection in the Netherlands. More than 200 editions of the works of the English man of letters John Milton (1608-1674), of which nearly half are early printed editions.

    Of other English authors who influenced Dutch culture, such as John Donne and Daniel Defoe, a greater number of early printed editions than anywhere else in the Netherlands is held at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam University Library. Are actively purchased.

  • English editions

    Works printed in Great Britain and North America as English-language works printed elsewhere. This collection of more than 5,600 titles encompasses all possible fields, but is particularly well stocked with works concerning (Dutch Reformed) Protestantism in Great Britain, the Netherlands and America, and the exchange of ideas between those countries.

    Key among these are Bibles and psalm books, and works by John Bunyan and John Milton. A large part derives from the library collections of New College in London and Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur (Georgia, USA), which were acquired in full and therefore also contain non-English editions. The books from both collections are recognizable by a stamp and/or pasted-in ex-libris. The H. Bos library also contains many rare English editions.

    Such a large collection of English editions is unique in the Netherlands.

  • Reformation editions

    In addition to Dutch Protestant works, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam University Library also holds a broader collection with material from the history of the Reformation in various European countries.
    This includes a collection of rare editions dating back to the earliest years of the Reformation.

    Important are the 16th century editions by Martin Luther (250), Philip Melanchthon (125), Ulrich Zwingli (40), Heinrich Bullinger (100), Jean Calvin (280), Théodore de Bèze (150), and many others.
    The pre 1601 editions by Desiderius Erasmus (70) and other humanists, as well as the Contrareformational polemic from the Catholic collections also held in the library, supplement the collection well.

  • Manuscripts

    A relatively small collection of manuscripts, which contains a wide variety of expensive, interesting and historically valuable documents from the 14th until the 19th century.
    Among the 615 documents there are also prayer books and other Medieval liturgical works, treatises in various fields of study, literary texts, many Protestant works and upwards of 200 letters from the 16th until the 18th century.
    Most of the Medieval manuscripts originate from the library of the Major Seminary in Hoeven.

    Secondary literature
    Catalogus van de handschriften in de Universiteitsbibliotheek Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Samenstelling en redactie: Willem Heijting. Amstelveen, EON Pers, 2007.

  • Pamphlets

    At least 10,000 broadsheets, brochures and pamphlets concerning Dutch history in the broadest sense. Ca. 400 broadsheets in the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam University Library are not listed in Knuttel.

    Important educational and research material.

  • Portraits

    Collection of ca. 1,500 engraved portraits from the 16th - 19th century (see image database UL). The portrait collection is of a general nature and contains wood cuts, engravings and etchings.
    Among the persons depicted, figures from the history of Dutch Protestantism are particularly well represented.

    Secondary literature
    M. Rengelink, Inventaris van de portretten. Amsterdam, 1992.