Leeuwenhoek Today

Leeuwenhoek had no sons or brothers who survived to have children, so the surname is rare today. All the descendants come from the family of van Leeuwenhoek's uncle Huijch. Two of Huijch's sons, Lambrecht and Maerten, lived long enough to have sons. In summer 2009, the Dutch telephone books listed only one private person with the "van" (an elderly widow who lives near Amsterdam) and about two dozen without it.

The Nederlandse Familienamenbank has a map of where they live, mostly in the Rotterdam area:

  • 2007 - Leeuwenhoek    79
  • 1947 - Leeuwenhoek    55

There are a handful of businesses named after Leeuwenhoek, and many, many streets. The Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Ziekenhuis, the cancer hospital in Amsterdam, was founded over a hundred years ago and named after him because "cancer" was a shunned word. The hospital is today the most common reminder of his name in everday Dutch life.

Since 1949, the Royal Society in London has awarded and published an annual Leeuwenhoek Lecture on the subject of microbiology.

The city of Delft, saturated with Everything Vermeer, has put a plaque on the wall of the building -- still with the store downstairs, housing upstairs -- that replaced Leeuwenhoek's Gouden Hoofd. The city also has a small display case outside the room that he tended in the Stadhuis. And there is the memorial in the Oude Kerk.

In a recent public poll to determine the "Greatest Dutch" men and women, Leeuwenhoek finished fourth, ahead of other top-ten finishers Erasmus, Anne Frank, Rembrandt, and Vincent van Gogh. While the press coverage referred to van Leeuwenhoek's discoveries as baanbrekende, pioneering, it also called him ongeschoolde hobbyist, an uneducated dilettante.

In 1877, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences established the Leeuwenhoek Medal, awarded once each decade to the person judged to have made the most significant contributions to the "advancement of microbiology". Louis Pasteur won it in 1895.

Leeuwenhoek medal

A prestigious medal initiated by the Royal
Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1877
and transferred to the Royal Netherlands Society of
Microbiology in 2013.

The medal is awarded to a scientist for his / her
excellent, high impact, highly relevant microbiology
research during the last 10-12 years.