National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

Transfer of management & custody

An archive only actually becomes part of the national collection once it has been transferred to the State Archives Service. After transfer, the archive is made available to the Dutch public. This can be physical in the reading rooms, digital via the website, or both.

Government archives

After no more than twenty years since their creation, papers and digital archives from the Dutch governnment that have been selected for permanent preservation must be transferred into an archival repository.

  • Municipal archives go to a municipal or city archives
  • Provincial archives and archives from components of central government that are situated in the provinces go to an RHC (Regional Historical Centre) archival repository
  • Central government archives go to the State Archives Service and generally onwards to the National Archives, though in exceptional circumstances they may be relocated to an RHC.

Dutch State Archives are thus preserved in the National Archives and in the RHCs, otherwise referred to as ‘Rijksarchiefbewaarplaatsen' (state archives repositories). The Minister of OcenW is responsible for the archives after they have been transferred into a state archives repository. They no longer fall under the Open Government Act (WOB) but under ‘open government regime’ of article 14 in the Archives Act. Under this act, every citizen has the right - under certain conditions – to consult the archives. Different procedures are in place for the transfer of physical and digital governnment archives.

Private archives

Transfer of private archives is not legally required, but voluntary. That is not to say that private archives are not important to state archives repositories. Private archives are indispensible in painting a reliable picture of our cultural heritage. When private archives are offered to a state archives repository, their suitabiliity for the collection must first be considered. This is done using an acquisition profile, and RHCs have different acquisition profiles from the National Archives. The State Archives Service also independently goes in search of interesting archives. A private archiive may be either donated or loaned to the National Archive. In the case of donations, or gifts, the National Archives becomes entirely responsible for the management and preservation of the archive. If an archive is loaned to us, it remains the property of its original owner.
If you are interested in loaning or donating a collection to the National Archives that is in keeping with our acquisition profile, please email us.