Manuscripts, archives and letters


The Western manuscripts, archives and letters collections consist of books and documents written in Latin, Greek and Cyrillic script. This introduction presents the collections, the various forms of access to them, and the shelfmarks you need for search actions and requests. Detailed information about five important subdivisions is available on separate webpages: medieval manuscripts; post-medieval manuscripts and private archives; Leiden University archives; letters; Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta.

Medieval manuscripts

With about 1800 codices and over a thousand fragments Leiden’s collection of medieval manuscripts (up to ca. 1550) is the largest in the Netherlands.

Post-medieval manuscripts and private archives

The early modern and modern materials take up the greatest part of the Western manuscripts, archives and letters collections. Important sections are: alchemistic manuscripts; alba amicorum; lecture notes by students; libri annotati; archives of individuals, families and non-governmental institutions.


The various collections of post-medieval manuscripts and (private) archives contain about 500.000 letters.

Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta

The Bibliotheca Neerlandica Manuscripta (BNM) collects and makes available information on Middle-Dutch manuscripts kept worldwide. Two-thirds of the documentation can be searched in a database.