Among the many joys of doing research, my favourite is best described as “archival serendipity”. When my research kept yielding correspondence in Esperanto I decided to have a look in the Leiden Special Collections. The result: Or. 6767: a complete grammar of Tibetan, explained in Esperanto.
The letters, authored by German Johann Anton Neubronner (1763-1815) on his voyage to the Dutch East Indies are a perfect supplement to three major collections gathered by Neubronner’s famous grandson: Indologist Herman Neubronner van der Tuuk.
Turkish prisons tend to house not only criminals but also political opponents. After the Young Turk Revolution, the sultan himself became a political opponent and ended up in prison. Dutch caricaturist Johan Braakensiek noticed the absurd irony of the situation.
Henri van Swinden's archive in the Leiden Special Collections contains four draft letters by Swiss mathematician Fatio De Duillier to Isaac Newton from 1693. The previously unpublished letters shed light on Newton’s alchemical practices and his reliance on circulation of knowledge.
Collector Bodel Nijenhuis is best known for his collection of maps and atlases, but he also collected portraits and autographs. Through his collections he created a documentation system on famous people, with portraits, specimens of their handwriting and biographical information.
Gifts by the Friends, both financially and physically, are essential in the enrichment of our special collections. The support of the Friends is often crucial in enabling the University Library to purchase certain desiderata that otherwise would not be within our reach.
In the nineteenth century, cholera outbreaks struck several cities in the Netherlands. Mapmakers struggled to aggregate the complex data gathered about the disease into clear cartographic images, a problem cartographers struggle with even today.