Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to the most frequently asked questions about IISH collections, archives, research and services.


  1. Can I conduct research at the IISG / NEHA?
    Anyone who wants to engage in research in archival collections and use the library of the International Institute of Social History, Netherlands Economic History Archive (NEHA), and the Press Collection is welcome to the Reading Room.
  2. Do I have to pay for services?
    Access to the Reading Room and consulting the collection is free of charge. Answering simple written queries is also part of this inclusive service.
  3. Must I be a member to use the library?
    On each visit researchers are asked to sign our guestbook.
    We do not provide general library passes.
    Anyone who wants to use the library of the IISH, NEHA, and the Press Collection is welcome to the Reading Room.
  4. Do I have to submit my identity card?
    Preregistration is not necessary.
    Anyone who wants to engage in research in archival collections of the IISH, NEHA, and the Press Collection is welcome to the Reading Room.
  5. What are your opening hours?
    The Reading Room is open on Monday through Thursday from 9.00 to 17.00.
    No requests for material from stacks will be handled after 3 p.m.
    The Institute is closed on Dutch public holidays and memorial days.
  6. How can I get to the IISH?
    See How to get there for how to get here by public transport or car.


  1. How can I find .....
    You find yourself now on the IISH corporate website, which contains general information about all IISH activities. Among other things you can search for keywords in the search block on the homepage. Are you looking for a book, an archive, a poster or a periodical? Please go to our IISH catalogue. It holds records of all books, booklets, and periodicals in the libraries and archives of the IISH, NEHA, and the Press Collection. All documents, books, periodicals, and archival collections are stored in closed-access stacks and cannot be browsed by the public. Books, brochures, serials, and archival documents can be requested online.
  2. I'm looking for a newspaper from a specific year. Do you have it?
    The library holds an extensive collection of newspapers.
    Please check the IISH catalogue to see if the newspaper you're looking for is available. For conservation some journals and periodicals are only available on microfilm or microfiche. Reading, printing, and scanning equipment for consulting microfilm and microfiche is available.
  3. Do you have a subject index of articles?
    Journal articles and chapters in books are not listed in the catalogue. To access these, you will need to use an index or database to explore the content of journals or books, and search the catalogue for the journal or book in which the article appears. Databases available online are the Labour History Serials Service (serials in the field of labour history); Viva Database (contains records describing articles published on women's history).
  4. Which archival collections are held by the IISH?
    Use the catalogue to find archives and collections kept by the Institute. Over 1,200 lists and inventories of archival collections are currently available online. In the Reading Room you can also research collections from NEHA and the Press Collection. For conservation some archival documents are only available on microfilms and microfiches. Reading, printing, and scanning equipment can be used in the Reading Room.
  5. Do you have any photographs / posters in your collections?
    In the collection guide for the Image and Sound Collections you will find a survey of the image and sound collections held by the IISH.
    Most of the image and sound collections are accessible through IISH catalogue and can be searched by organization, date, location or subject. An overview of the keywords can be found in the thesaurus; see Image & Sound Collections.
    Digitized copies (low resolution scans only) of visual documents can be viewed by using the IISH catalogue. In some cases it is possible to consult original documents after consultation with the reading room staff, by appointment only.


  1. Is it possible to reserve material in advance?
    Books, brochures, serials, and archival documents can be requested online.
  2. I found some interesting documents, can I read them online?
    Many of the archives can be consulted online. The IISH holds over close to 5.000 archives and collections, altogether there is over 14 kilometers of paper; it is not possible to put all these documents online. Those not online can be consulted in the Reading Room.
    Often it is possible to order photocopies of documents.
  3. Are all collections accessible without restrictions?
    Most archives are accessible without any restrictions for research.
    Donors and owners of material on loan to the Institute may, however, impose certain restrictions on accessing, copying, and publishing these collections or parts of collections, including a requirement to request express permission from the donor or owner.
    To find out if access to a collection is limited, see the brief descriptions of the relevant archives in the catalogue.
  4. Consultation of papers I would like to research is restricted - how do I get access?
    The Institute intermediates in acquiring permission from the archive owner to get access to collections with limited or restricted access.
    Search for the relevant collection in the catalogue, select the desired inventory numbers and click on 'Request' - in the follow-up screen you can fill in the permission form.
    When permission is granted you are welcome to come to the Reading Room to consult the documents.


  1. Can I borrow books?
    In general, all items of the library should be available at all times to each visitor of the Reading Room. This means we do not lend out any publications.
  2. Can I take journals home?
    Journals and newspapers cannot be borrowed, however, it is often possible to make scans, or order them.
  3. Can I photocopy books and journals?
    All standard sized (up to size A4) library material in good condition can be photographed, scanned, or copied on a self-service photocopier in the Reading Room.
    You can also order digital reproductions directly through the online catalogue. You will find the button ‘Request Reproduction’ next to the call number on the item description page. You will be able to pay directly and the scans will be delivered with WeTransfer. You can consult our rates beforehand.
  4. Can I photocopy archival documents?
    For preservation reasons it is not permitted to make photocopies of archive and manuscript materials by yourself. Scanning or photographing archival documents is, in most cases, allowed.
    You can also request scans through our online catalogue. For more information, see below.


  1. Can I order digital scans of books or periodicals?
    You can order (pdf) scans directly through the online catalogue. You will find the button ‘Request Reproduction’ next to the call number on the item description page. You will be able to request an offer first, or pay directly. The scans will be delivered with WeTransfer.
  2. How can I order digital scans of archival documents?
    You can request digital reproductions (in pdf) of archival documents, for research purposes only, through the online catalogue. See the button 'Request Reproduction' on the 'Collection Summary' page.
    Please always specify which inventory numbers you wish to order scans of. You can consult our rates beforehand.
    Please note: Before ordering reproductions of archival documents, please check the available online finding aids for archival collections. See Index of Archives. Access to some archival collections may be restricted.
  3. Can I buy posters depicted on your website?
    It's possible to order high resolution scans of posters- see Services.
  4. Can I buy records listed on your website?
    We do not sell from our collections, however, it is possible to order reproductions - see for more information Services and Collections.
  5. Can I ask you to do research for me?
    Public Services is responsible for library and archival collection services at the International Institute of Social History (IISH), the Netherlands Economic History Archive (NEHA), and the Press Collection. We do not carry out research on request. However, the Institute has contact with historians who know the collections and can do research for a fee. For inquiries, please contact the Reading Room at
    Everyone is welcome to conduct research in the Reading Room.
  6. Are your photographs / posters copyright protected?
    The Institute is the safe keeper of collections and does not intermediate questions about copyrights held by third parties. The Institute accepts no liability whatsoever arising from the use of its materials. Users are responsible for conforming to all relevant statutory provisions concerning copyright.
    See IISH copyright statement.


  1. My grandfather fought in the Spanish Civil War - can you find any information about him in your collections?
    Guide to the Spanish Civil War Collections provides a survey of all primary source materials on the Spanish Civil War at the IISH. This guide is an index to collections consisting of hundreds of files and thousands of documents. Staff of the IISH Reading Room staff is in no position to search for personal information or documentation about individuals. If you wish to consult the archival materials you're welcome in the Reading Room. If, after consulting the inventories, you've found documents of interest, it is possible to order some reproductions, for research purposes only. See Reproductions for procedure and rates.

    The inventories to Confederación Nacional del Trabajo Archives and Federación Anarquista Ibérica Archives are online available. These are both large collections and hold no index on names. 

    The IISH has made both collections online available, but its use is still restricted.
    Please fill out the following form to request permission to browse online through the documents: CNT and / or FAI
    If you agree to these following conditions, we will provide you with a login code. With this code you will have access to all the digital content of this collection:
    - Access to the CNT / FAI archives is meant for personal use (private purposes) and / or own research
    - Relevant copyright and privacy laws must be respected.
    - The Institute is not liable for the use of material from its collections. See the IISH copyright statement at
    - For citation in research, the IISH must be identified as the source: (Name of the collection), International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam

    If your relatives are Dutch, try

  2. I have found an old life insurance / funeral policy - is it still valid?
    Information on Dutch insurers can be found at the website of the Nederlandsche Bank (DNB)  - (in Dutch).
  3. How can I trace information about (former) Dutch pension funds?
    At the site of the Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) you'll find information on Dutch pension funds - (in Dutch).
  4. I have another question ...
    You can reach the reading room at for questions about the collections of the IISH, NEHA and related subjects. If we do not have an answer to your question, we will try to refer you to another institution or specialist.