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The institution Archives of Utrecht (Dutch: Het Utrechts Archief (HUA)) is a records department in the Dutch City of Utrecht. The Utrecht Archives manages the biggest and richest collection of documents about the history of the city and the province of Utrecht and its towns and people. With over 200 km of archives, images (such as prints, drawings, maps, photo’s, films) and 70.000 publications, the Archive is the major source of information for the history of Utrecht. The Utrecht Archives also disposes knowledge about legal supervision of archives in the field of analog as well as digital archive management. Besides, the national centre for ecclesiastical records is located in the Utrecht Archives together with the records of the Dutch Railways. The Utrecht Archives institution works closely together with other partners such as (local) governments, private individuals, partner institutions and other museums in Utrecht.
The origin of the Utrecht Archives can be found in a chest with charters, which was stored in one of the city gates during the Middle Ages. This gate was the ‘Catharijnepoort’. Due to the fact that this gate was also used as a place to store gunpowder, the city archive of the municipality of Utrecht of that time, had to be moved to another location. From 1546 this location was a house called ‘Lichtenberg’ located at the ‘Stadhuisbrug’. In April 1803 magistrate Pertus van Musschenbroek, from Utrecht, was appointed ‘archivarius honorair’ (honorary keeper of records) for the department of Utrecht. October 17, 1803 he got his permanent appointment as archivist of the City of Utrecht. From 1826 it was obligated by Royal Decree that provinces and local authorities had to registrar, and draw up an inventory of their archives. For the ecclesiastical records they named Christiaan Paulus de Vos as keeper of records. These records would become the foundation for the future Public Record Office in Utrecht. De Vos’ successor, Gerrit Dedel, already went by the name of ‘Master of the Rolls’. The current Utrecht Archives originated in 1998 from a merger between the Public Record Office and the Communal Archive and Photo Service of Utrecht. Since then, the Utrecht Archives are a ‘mutual arrangement’ of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the municipality of Utrecht. There are over 70 employees and a large group of volunteers working at the Archive right now. Until 1 October 2012, the director of the Utrecht Archives was Saskia van Dockum.
Visitor Centre and Reading Rooms
The Utrecht Archives is located in two locations: The first location is Hamburgerstraat 28 in Utrecht, which houses the visitor centre of the Archives as well as a reading room for genealogical research and local history plus exhibitions. The second location is the Alexander Numankade 199-201 in Utrecht, where you will find the depots with archival records and collections established, together with the library and the reading room in which you can study the original records.
Image Bank, Archive Database and Newspaper Database at the Utrecht Archives
With the Image Bank of the Archive you can search, consult and download almost 130.000 digitalized images from the image collection of the Utrecht Archives. The collection consists of more than 100.000 pictures, around 18.000 postcards, approximately 110 films, more than 6.000 drawings and almost 5.000 prints of the city of Utrecht and the Province of Utrecht, including those of the Dutch Railways Archive. This collection gets constantly supplemented. The Archive Database allows you to consult more than 1.249.300 scans of archive records. Digital versions of the local newspaper ‘Utrechts Nieuwsblad’, from 1893 till 1967, are available in the newspaper database.
History of the Building
In 1050 the Paulus Abbey was built on the location, which is now called the Hamburgerstraat. This was one of the oldest and most important monasteries in Utrecht. The construction of the Abbey can be contributed to Bishop Bernold. Today, there are only a few fragments of wall left from the Church and the Paulus Abbey. From the monastery remain some building fragments which are still visible during your visit to the Utrecht Archives. In the hallway at the ground floor you can see the remains of the old ambulatory; in the auditorium are fragments left of the ‘kapittelzaal’, the ‘refter’ (dining room) and the ‘Dormitorium’ (dormitory). In the reading room you can see the remains of the ‘librye’ (library) and in the basement are still some remnants of the cellars left. However, there has been a lot of reconstruction work done and after the fire of 1253 a big part of the monastery needed to be rebuilt. In the 16th century, after the Iconoclastic Fury and the Reformation, the monastery was put into use as a Court of Law and the building remained in this function till the year 2000. A lot of reconstruction has been done in the 19th century. The architect Christiaan Kramm provided the building with a new neoclassicistical façade. As a result of this, the entrance moved to the centre of the façade and the ground floor had to be raised. However, in 1900 the building already turned out to be too small for its purpose. At the former location of a house at the Hamburgerstraat the Contonal Court was built, after a design of the architect Willem Metzelaar. In the fifties and sixties of the twentieth century the Court of Law has seen some dramatic changes. The current floors, staircases and doorposts can be traced back to this period as well. The part, which is now the Court Hotel has been remodeled during these days as well, including the part were the old façade still stands. In 2000, the Court of Law moved to a new building at the Catharijnesingel. The Utrecht Archives have been located in this building since June 2008.
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