Depositing Collections

The Institute collects primary source materials such as manuscripts, diaries, correspondence and photographs, as well as rare books, pamphlets and serials. We usually do not collect press clippings or copies of documents readily available elsewhere.

Why deposit your material at the IISH?

The IISH is the most renowned institute in the world in the field of socio-economic history. Our collections extend over 50 kilometers of shelf length. They are used by more than six thousand researchers a year for their research. The world-renowned collection was created by carefully acquiring and selecting from 1935 on, in the Netherlands, Europe and later at a global scale.

The IISH provides a safe haven for archives and other sources that socio-economic historians might want to use for their research. What we accept, remains in principle preserved forever, or at least as long as the institute exists. This makes the material part of the memory of the world. Organizations and people who deposit material with us make it available for historical research. This way, their thoughts, deeds and actions are given a place in history and do not fall into oblivion.

Deposit of a collection to Frank de Jong (IISH) | Photo by Henk Wals (IISH)

What do we collect?

In principle, we are interested in all information that can be used for social and economical historical research: archives, manuscripts, letters, minutes, photos, pamphlets, posters, e-mails or objects. Analogue or digital makes no difference. In terms of content, it may concern, for example, labor relations, working conditions, protest and emancipation movements, political parties, trade unions, strikes, campaigns, etc., from all over the world.

We usually do not collect newspaper clippings or books and magazines that are already readily available. Unfortunately, we cannot include everything that is offered to us, however much we would like to. Cataloging is labor-intensive work and our processing capacity is limited. Storage and maintenance also cost money, which is not in abundance as the institute suffered several budget cuts in the last twenty years. Nowadays, we have to raise money in all kinds of ways. We are assisted in this by the Friends of the IISH, of which anyone can become a member.

Neutral and independent

The owner or borrower of the collection is the International Institute for Social History Foundation. Although the IISH Foundation holds a lot of material from the political "left", it is strictly politically neutral and independent. Incidentally, employers' archives and papers from (extreme) right-wing politicians are also kept at the IISH. The IISH Foundation lends the collection to the institute IISH, which has the responsibility to take care of it, and uses it for its research. The institute is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

How does it work?

We appreciate you interest in wanting to place your archive or other material at the IISH. If you are planning to do so, you can contact one of our employees directly. If we decide to accept your material, we will discuss the mutual conditions with you. For example, it is important to know whether we should keep your archive closed or partially closed for a certain period, and if so, for how long. We also discuss transfer arrangements and when we can process it. Your material will then be retrieved and inventoried, cleaned, described and repacked. Then it gets a code and a place in our storerooms, or, if it concerns digital material, on our servers. Through our catalogue it can then be discovered and consulted by everyone.

Staff members collection development

If you would like to discuss a possible donation or deposit, please get in touch with one of the staff members for Collection Development:

To support the institute in other ways, you can join the Friends of the IISH.