Of the 2000 oldest glass plate negatives (numbered without prefix) included in Memory of the Netherlands, the majority date from the period 1906-1915, the first years in which government agencies took photographs in a structured way, as part of the activities for the conservation of monuments and old buildings. Most of the photographs are the work of G. de Hoog.
From the start, the Rijksbureau’s ‘own’ glass plate negatives are numbered in order of arrival and then stored, but frequently older negatives that have come in from elsewhere are inserted. This explains why the collection also contains materials from before 1906. These additions are often not precisely dated, because information is lacking, and in many cases it is not possible to ascribe them to a photographer.
The objects on the oldest glass plate negatives are typical for the first decades of conservation efforts in the Netherlands: many monuments date from Medieval times or from the seventeenth century, and they are mainly churches or church inventory pieces. The way in which they are photographed illustrates in many cases that documentation was the main objective, and that the possibility of publication was hardly taken into account.