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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, 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. The archive has a reading room where you can ask questions and do your own research. Many notary records are available on microfiche and can be printed.
The archives are gradually being digitized, as detailed elsewhere in this section. Just taking a picture of each document page, the old microfilm method, is not enough anymore. Humans must read every word and enter the text, as accurately as possible, into a searchable database.
They have five kilometers of shelf space full of archives, so it will take a very long time to get all of the text digitized. Meanwhile, they've made a terrific start with an eye to the future. Hopefully, it will never have to be done again, and the actual parchment books and loose sheets can rest forever in climate-controlled peace.
What do they have?
On their web, they have a list of almost nine hundred separate inventories. 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.
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.