The fifteenth of June 1875 was a pleasant and warm day. Some menacing clouds threatened to throw a spanner in the works, but luckily the rain never came. Fortunate for the crowds gathering in Leiden, as on this day, Leiden University celebrated its three hundredth anniversary.
Dogs were a much-loved subject in early modern prints. On the oldest depiction of the Leiden University Library, a print from 1610 after design by Jan Cornelisz Woudanus (ca. 1565-1615) two dogs are visible in the foreground, and not without purpose.
Thinking about inclusion is not something new in the world of reading, and the Leiden Special Collections have pieces to prove it. In this blog I want to highlight a collection of 19th century books in the Special Collections aimed at helping the blind in Qing China read their mother tongue.
Many recognise Willem Bilderdijk as one of the greatest poets in Dutch literary history, but only few know that he was a rather famous lawyer, all thanks to his education in Leiden. Letters, lecture notes and other documents provide insight into his time as a law student at Leiden University.
Leiden University student Evi Dijcks added a new chapter to Dutch literary history when she discovered the earliest all-female literary society in the Dutch Republic, founded in 1782. The discovery shows: 18th-century women did not wait around for men to include them in their literary activities.
During the Second World War availability of paper was limited, so the backsides of old topographic map sheets were re-used to print new maps. The UBL Special Collections hold a complete series of WWII maps of the Netherlands, several of which were printed on the the backsides of older maps.
Whilst scientists have achieved undeniable successes over the centuries, many of them endured more than their fair share of disappointments, failures and disasters. Who deserves the title of most unfortunate scientist is still up for debate.
"God created the world but the Dutch created the Netherlands", Descartes supposedly once said. Leiden University Libraries acquired 40 photographs by Dutch photographer Marie-José Jongerius (b. 1970), who photographed an extreme example of this Dutch passtime.