Spaarnestad Photo was originally the photographic archives of the publishing company De Spaarnestad (now known as Verenigde Nederlandse Uitgeverijen VNU or United Dutch Publishers) that had been founded in Haarlem in 1906. De Spaarnestad was known for its illustrated magazines such as the Katholieke Illustratie and Panorama as well as for the women’s magazines Libelle, Beatrijs and Margriet.
The Spaarnestad Photo collection was divested from the publishing company in 1986. It then grew substantially as more and more Dutch publishers and photo press agencies discarded their photo archives toward the end of the twentieth century.
Cooperation with the Dutch National Archives
The entire Spaarnestad Photo collection has received the National Heritage designation. The National Archives is working together with Spaarnestad Photo to ensure the collection’s preservation, since this is by far the most interesting photographic archive in the country and because of the care it requires.
In 2009 and 2010 the Spaarnestad Photo collection was transferred from Haarlem to the National Archives in The Hague, where all the facilities and expertise are available for its preservation and management.
Together with the National Archives’ own collection, the Spaarnestad Photo collection now constitutes the largest collection of photographs in the Netherlands. It is even one of the world’s most comprehensive archives in the field of national and international press and documentary photography. The oldest material dates back to the late nineteenth century, but the emphasis lies on the twentieth century.
Through the website of De Spaarnestad, Spaarnestad Photo makes any material included in the photographic collections available to anyone who wishes to publish it, insofar as the copyrights rest with Spaarnestad Photo (or the rightful claimants have allowed publication). This permission is extended to publishers, newspapers, exhibitions, etc, since the photographs were primarily taken for journalistic and documentary reasons, in other words for publication. The opportunity for publication now provided by the Spaarnstad Photo is in keeping with the original photographers’ purpose and, moreover, generates income for the photographers, their heirs or other rightful claimants.
The National Archives and Spaarnestad Photo supplement, preserve and manage the collection of national and international analog and digital press and documentary photography of the twentieth and twenty-first century. They conduct research or contact for it, they publish on this research, and make the photographic collection available to the public.