Delft City Archives

Archief Delft is the building that holds the physical documents. Also known in print as the GAD, Gemeente Archief Delft (Delft City Archive), it was established in the 1950's in Oude Delft 169 (below right), just south of the Prinsenhof across the gracht from the Oude Kerk. When the house was built in 1563, it was called Het Wapen van Savoyen, which appears over the door. In 2017, a new building opened in Den Hoorn (below left; click to enlarge), about two kilometers to the east, giving much-needed space to the archive and its dedicated professionals. Now called the Stads Archief Delft, the archive has a reading room where you can ask questions and do your own research.

The archives are gradually being digitized, as detailed elsewhere in this section. Taking a picture of each document page, the old microfilm method, is not enough anymore. Archivists and volunteers must read every word and enter the text, as accurately as possible, into a searchable database.

The archive has five kilometers of shelf space full of documents, so it will take a very long time to make all of the text searchable. Meanwhile, they've made a terrific start with an eye to the future. For example, a majority of the notary archives have been scanned and are available online, even though the text of most of them can not yet be searched. It is everyone's intention that the digitization will be sufficient for all research purposes and the actual parchment books and loose sheets can rest forever in climate-controlled peace. Note that the new building has no windows.

What do they have?

On their web, they have a list of almost nine hundred separate inventories, also listed alphabetically and by topic. Each is its own list of collections of documents. Much of it is recent. Most of what is old, that is, pertaining to Leeuwenhoek and his time, was completely inventoried under the leadership of G. Morre by 1902. That inventory, the first section (eerste afdeling), covers the years 1246-1795 and has the honor of being numbered 1. Read more.

Archief Delft has three main collections:

Collectie Archieven (archive collection) of official government documents. Over seven thousand of these documents, often large bound volumes themselves full of thousands of documents, can be browsed page by page. In addition, the archivists and volunteers are making indexes of names and places in these documents so that they can be searched. These searchable archives are accessible on three other webs:

  • Nadere Toegangen (further entries) contains indexes to locate records of, among many others, baptisms, marriages, burials, various taxes, church membership, the civic guards, and real estate transactions.
  • Digitale Arena (digital arena) contains indexes to locate documents from among Delft's notaries, charters, and criminal procedings.
  • Historisch GIS (historical geographical information system) based on the kadaster maps of 1832 and 2004. Clicking on a red parcel, for example, the house next to Leeuwenhoek's on the corner of the Hippolytusbuurt and Nieuwstraat, and then on "Open rapport" will reveal the property's ownership information from the judicial archives' protocols.

Collectie Beeld en Geluid (image and sound collection).

Collectie Bibliotheek (library collection) of books and journals about Delft.

In addition, the city archives' webs house two other collections:

  • Delftse Biografieën (Delft biographies) of over fourteen hundred prominent Delftenaren assembled by H.K. Nagtegaal and H.M. Morrien.
  • Bibliografie Willem van Oranje: (William of Orange bibliography) assembled by Gerrit Willem Drost of almost seventeeen hundred publications between 1561 en 2011, many of them digitized, about the life of Willem van Oranje.


Beginning with the appointment of Jan Soutendam in 1859, Delft is fortunate to have had a series of archivists who set the foundation for the outstanding archive that we have today. Soutendam was followed around the turn of the 20th century by two archivists who are frequently cited by Leeuwenhoek biographers as being especially helpful: G. Morre and L.G.N. Bouricius. Another diligent Delft archivist of the mid-20th century, Petra Beydals, scoured the archives for evidence of Leeuwenhoek. She left a cluttered folder full of notes and correspondence that is four inches thick. It deserves more attention.

Soutendam Bouricius Beydals

The Delft Archives, crying out to be digitized