KITLV (The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) in Leiden was founded in 1851 and is a leading centre for the study of the cultural and social sciences of Indonesia, Surinam, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. Its unique collection of books, manuscripts, prints and photos draws researchers from around the world.
KITLV began collecting photographs around 1890 for the purpose of documenting the image of the Dutch East and West Indies in all their facets. The then deputy secretary, Mr. G. P. Rouffaer, laid the foundation for the collection. In the 1960s the collection was given a major incentive through the activities pursued by Mr. R. Nieuwenhuys who published various books of photographs for which the KTLV collection served as a basis. To this day, the collection has never ceased to grow thanks to donations and purchases; the number of photographs already exceeds 150,000.
The combined print and photo catalogue, with detailed descriptions, is to be found on the KITLV website under 'Images'. The number of items described - some 40,000 - is constantly increasing as previously unpublished documents are regularly added to the file. Most of them are black-and-white photographs of land- and townscapes, buildings, infrastructure, life under indigenous and Dutch rule, families, individuals and so forth.