The Koninklijke Bibliotheek’s manuscript collection is continually expanding. Thanks to acquisitions, but also through donations and loans, the collection keeps growing at a steady rate. In the past century, it was enlarged by a number of fine private manuscript collections, among which the painter Willem Witsen’s personal collection.
Recently, Metamorfoze, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek’s national preservation programme, implemented a project for putting a number of these private collections onto microfilm. This was necessary since paper documents from the nineteenth century in particular are highly susceptible to decay. Microfilming is an excellent way of preserving the fragile national paper heritage for the future. Simultaneously with the items for the conservation programme, a selection from the manuscript collection has been digitized on behalf of The Memory of the Netherlands. The result of this digitization work can be viewed on this site.
Exploring a manuscript collection can be easily compared to a treasure hunt: one has to go through piles of paper in order to find the really interesting documents. Visitors to The Memory of the Netherlands are saved the trouble: the top items of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek’s collection are handed to them on an electronic platter, ready for viewing.
These web pages feature nine handwritten documents either written by or associated with the following littérateurs: Jacques Perk, Herman Gorter, Jan Engelman, Hendrik Marsman and René Rademacher Schorer. All the digitized pages may be viewed as individual objects, but it is also possible to browse through the various manuscripts. Just to be clear, René Radermacher Schorer’s six guest books form one single manuscript.