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Unique manuscript map of Suriname now available in Digital Collections

The map of Suriname, drawn in 1830 and acquired by Leiden University Libraries (UBL) in 2023, has now been made available online via Digital Collections in open access. The map can be viewed and downloaded in high resolution.

The map of Suriname was drawn by surveyor Helmuth Hendrik Hiemcke (1807/1808-1858) on behalf of the colonial government of Suriname. The document is almost 2.5 meters long and shows the country in great detail. Suriname is shown at a time when plantation society was past its peak economically. Because the map never appeared in print, it was virtually unknown. The map is a valuable source for the history of Suriname in the last decades of slavery. The map can be viewed as a whole or in eight detailed images in the UBL Digital Collections.

The acquisition and digitisation of the map were made possible with support from the Bodel Nijenhuis Fund for Cartography (part of the Leiden University Fund), the Friends of the UBL, the KITLV Association and various private donations.

About Digital Collections

"The challenge with digitisation project was not only the size of this map, but above all finding a way to properly capture all the small, valuable details. We always photograph large maps like these in several parts, which we then digitally stitch together. This time, we decided to keep the images separate, so that people can see the map in great detail without having to work with an enormous file."

Eva van 't Loo
Staff Member Digitisation

Detail of the Suriname river estuary

About Digital Collections

UBL makes digitised and born-digital materials available through Digital Collections. The Digital Collections platform has a wide range of functionalities, like a full-text search function for printed works, a powerful zoom function, and high-definition image downloads. Searches can easily be focused and refined and a connection to the library catalogue is readily available. Every collection has its own collection page for easy access but different collections can also be searched simultaneously. A persistent link is provided for every digital source record, to facilitate reliable reference in print and online. Many materials in Digital Collections are published in the public domain and hence freely usable and alterable for every user. UBL continues to add new materials to Digital Collections. Much of this material is accessible through the Leiden IIIF Advanced Viewer. We invite new users to view our instruction videos to optimise their experience.

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