Universiteit LeidenZegel Universiteit Leiden

Home > outreach > strwarchief > observatoryarchives 

Leiden Observatory

Leiden Observatory Archives

The papers of Leiden Observatory include the complete scientific papers of prominent astronomers such as Kaiser, De Sitter and Oort, as well as documents concerning instruments and observatory management since the early 19th century.

The main part of the archive has been transferred to the Leiden University Library, where they can be consulted in the Special Collections reading room. Most of the papers have been digitized as well. They will be made available online, but it is not clear when that will happen.

Leiden Observatory Archives include:
  • General Observatory papers (GO), containing correspondence with the Board of Trustees, other administrative papers, documents concerning the main instruments, and papers of staff members other than the directors, including for example Anton Pannekoek, Jan Woltjer and Maarten Schmidt. Most papers date from 1837-45, but some are more recent. GO_inventory (pdf)
  • the papers of Frederik Kaiser (FK) (1808-1872; director 1837-1872). FK_inventory (pdf)
  • the papers of Hendrikus Gerardus van de Sande Bakhuyzen (HB) (1838-1923; director 1872-1908). HB inventory_(pdf)
  • the papers of Ernst Frederik van de Sande Bakhuyzen (EB) (1848-1918; director 1908-1918). EB_inventory (pdf)
  • the papers of Willem de Sitter (WdS) (1872-1934; director 1918-1934). WdS_inventory (pdf)
  • papers of Ejnar Hertzsprung (EH) (1873-1967; director 1934-1945). EH_inventory (pdf)
  • The papers of Jan Hendrik Oort (1900-1992, director from 1945-1970). An inventory was published by Jet Katgert: J.K. Katgert-Merkelijn, The Letters and Papers of Jan Hendrik Oort, as Archived in the University Library, Leiden (Dordrecht etc. 1997).
The archives also include a unique photo album from 1908, with pictures of astronomers and observatories from all over the world.
Click here to view it online.

The papers of Henk van de Hulst (1918-2000) are still at Leiden Observatory, as well as some more recent papers and a unique set of course notes of courses by Oort, Hertzsprung, De Sitter, Kramers and others, made by student Leen Binnendijk in the 1930s.

Preserving and cataloguing the archives was made possible by a grant of the Gratama Foundation. The digitization was funded by the Metamorfoze program for the preservation of paper heritage.