Cartography, Geography and Travel

Kaart van Amsterdam in het Toonneel der Steden van Joan Blaeu

Map of Amsterdam by Joan Blaeu

This collection domain relates to the collections of maps, atlases and globes and to geographical literature.

The vast scale of these collections is due partly to the loan of the library and map collection of the Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (KNAG, the Royal Dutch Geographical Society) in 1880. The two main clusters, the KNAG collections and the collections later acquired by the university library, are closely interwoven, both physically and in terms of content; they have ‘grown towards each other’ during the last 125 years.

The collection largely reflects the history of western, and more specifically, Dutch cartography up to the present day. The maps and atlases collection is one of the largest in the Netherlands and among the largest in the world. The domain contains 175,000 map sheets and 5,000 atlases. Many hundreds of maps can be classified as unique or extremely rare.


Humanities scholars and people interested in history are increasingly outnumbering geographers and cartographers. The collection of Dutch (Amsterdam) atlases and related maps is of key interest to international researchers. The general public is also showing a growing interest in cartography and the map collection.

There is regular cooperation with the geographers and historians of the University of Amsterdam and the historical cartographers from Utrecht University, in the form of lectures, publications and teaching and research supervision.

Collection profile

  • Old maps, atlases and globes
  • Modern maps, atlases and globes
  • Reference library
  • Born-digital base material (the paper collection of current maps will be expanded only sporadically in future)
  • ‘Geography and travel’ (books, manuscripts, magazines, journals, photographs, etc.)

Important collections


Published by  Special Collections UvA

22 August 2014