Maps and Drawings

7. Consulting Maps and Drawings in the National Archives of the Netherlands

OC maps and drawings are contained in the collections with the following letter codes: MCAL, VEL and VELH. The catalogues of these collections are divided into a main classification of charts, on the one hand, and maps and plans, on the other. These two main categories are subdivided geographically. In many instances both categories will have to be consulted because of the fairly arbitrary division between charts and maps. The catalogues are provided with indexes of personal names and geographical names. It should be borne in mind that much less material can be found with the help of the index than by means of the geographical classification.


Map of the fort and the city of Colombo; 1785

(click image to enlarge)

The maps and drawings in the collections VEL and VELH are available on micro-fiches. It is advisable to consult the material first with the help of these fiches. This is quicker; one can make a selection of what one then wishes to see in the original. The mapbook of Isaac de Graaff - during the whole of the eighteenth century the standard cartographic work of the Heren XVII - and several other cartographic works of the VOC are available in the map and drawings reading room in the form of photo atlases and facsimile editions.

In the collection VEL especially, there are descriptions of many maps and drawings which were detached from the series of overgekomen brieven en papieren ("OBP") during the 19th century. This is sometimes mentioned in the column Aanmerkingen (remarks), for example Overgekomen, 1655 (Received, 1655). If one knows or assumes that a drawing belongs with a letter or a report in the series of overgekomen brieven en papieren, one should consult the back of the drawing. Often there is there an indication of origin written in pen, for instance, Ceylon, 1722, 3e deel (Ceylon, 1722, third part). Using this indication one can easily look up the chronological tables of contents of the overgekomen brieven en papieren, and then relate the map or drawing and the written document to each other.


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