Place the maps of Leiden University Libraries on their right location!

Maps in the Crowd is back again! Over 300 maps are ready to be georeferenced by you. Everyone who likes it can join by simply log in via email or social media account. By joining this project you help the library to make its map collection better accessible. Also, the old maps can be compared with the modern situation this way.

For this project eleven atlases are selected that contain over 300 maps altogether. The atlases are concerned with various parts of Asia, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, China, India and Bangladesh. The atlases date from the middle of the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth century.

In the meantime we are switched to a new version of the Georeferencer application. This version has a lot of functionalities, among which various viewing possibilities (‘Overlay’, ‘Grid’ to compare multiple maps, ‘Swipe’, ‘Spy-glass’ and a 3D-viewer), the addition of transcriptions, the inclusion of the old maps in GeoEditors and the availability of georeferenced files that can be reused in, for instance, GIS applications.

The atlases that have been selected come from the University Library’s rare books collection, the bequest of the nineteenth-century collector Johannes Bodel Nijenhuis (1797-1872) and the atlas collection the KIT Royal Tropical Institute.

Beware of inset maps!

Our Caribbean project now runs for two weeks and more than 70% of the maps is georeferenced already! We go like a rocket!

However, a number of map sheets in this project consist of a general map and one or more inset maps. Other sheets are patchworks of a number of smaller maps. All these separate maps are individually recorded. We want to ask you to carefully read the description of the map before you start to georeference, to make sure that you are georeferencing the right part of the image.


As an example, here we show a sheet with twelve maps: six general topographic maps of the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles and six insets which are geological maps of the same islands. The map was published in 1917 in the Encyclopedie van Nederlands West-Indië, compiled by Benjamins and Snelleman and co-published by Martinus Nijhoff in The Hague and E.J. Brill in Leiden.

This sheet is part of the Collection Coomans-Eustatia. Henny Coomans (1929-2010) worked as a biologist in Curaçao, Amsterdam and New York. After his first wife’s death, he remarried Maritza Eustatia (1940-2002). She was librarian of the University of the Netherlands Antilles in Willemstad. They set up the Stichting Libri Antilliani, a foundation that stimulated the publication of works on the Netherlands Antilles. They were co-authors of St. Martin in maps & prints, one of the foundation’s publications.

In 2009, Henny Coomans donated the collection to the library of the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. After the closure of its library in 2013, the Royal Tropical Institute donated the Coomans-Eustatius Collection to Leiden University.

Maps in the Crowd goes Caribbean: new maps available!


Help us georeference our map collection!

After successfully georeferencing  a large part of our digitized maps we have launched a new phase! We have added a set of 1100 maps from our Caribbean collections to the Leiden Georeferencer application and, once again, ask the public to help us add unlocking them. With your help we aim to improve the accessibility of our digital map data for teaching and research.

You can start georeferencing here!Caribbean

A big thanks to our volunteers!

Last Thursday a large crowd gathered at the University Library to attend our public event celebrating the completion of the georeferencing process. It was with great pleasure that we handed out prizes to our most active volunteers and got to thank them personally for all their hard work!


Frank Okker talking about ‘super-volunteer’ Gerret Rouffaer

The meeting kicked off with a general overview of the project by project leaders Martijn Storms and Patrick Gouw. After the key-note lecture by dr. Frank Okker (who spoke about ‘super-volunteer’ Gerret Rouffaer, Indonesia explorer and ‘founder’ of the KITLV map collection) there was a lively panel discussion, in which our overall winner Carl Mierop and Heleen Hayes told us more about their experiences with using the Georeferencer. Questions were asked from the audience and a lot of feedback was received that will be taken into account for the next project phases.


Panel discussion with Carl Mierop and Heleen Hayes

During the award ceremony it was great to see many of our top contributors, the driving forces behind the project, together on stage. Carl Mierop was rewarded with a special gift: the monumental and rare full-colour Atlas of the Netherlands East Indies (valued at € 450,-), whilst the runners-up received a reproduction of a KITLV-map of their choice.20161117_163356

Reward ceremony for our top contributors


Winner Carl Mierop was rewarded with the ‘Grote Atlas van Nederlands Oost-Indië’

Before a round of drinks and bites concluded the afternoon curator Martijn Storms showed the attendees several of the original maps that were included in our project.


Original maps on display

On behalf of the entire Maps in the Crowd team we’d like to thank everyone for showing interest in our project. It was a great afternoon! We’ll be back with new maps, so please keep following us!

Guest blog: ‘Unfamiliar items’ on maps – Legal drugs

By Heleen Hayes

While georeferencing Indonesian maps of the late 19t till early 20th century, I came across some unfamiliar, but surprisingly interesting buildings and area descriptions. This made me look around the internet to find out more about these subjects.

A striking one is an ‘Opiumverkoopplaats’. Are we looking at an official sales point of opium? Legal drugs? Yes, that’s right.[1] Even though the detrimental effects of opium use had been clear for centuries, the government allowed trade and use of the product. A nice cashflow was apparently more important than ethics and the government monopoly continued. [2] I will not go further into politics and ethics in this blog, but if you google ‘opium’ or ‘amphioen/amfioen’ there are lots of (Dutch) articles to be found for those who are interested in the subject.

Opium was manufactured on Java. In 1894 the first opium factory was built on the Struiswijk estate. In 1901 it had become too small and a larger, new opium factory was built on the surrounding Keramat area. A special railway was built to transport the necessary raw materials from the harbours.

A traveller tells us the following (in Dutch): “Wie het voorrecht heeft, die inrichting te kunnen bezoeken, zal zich niet beklagen over den er doorgebrachten tijd. Die fabriek, waar men het vooral door chineezen zoo geliefde, phantastische droombeelden opwekkende bedwelmingsmiddel vervaardigt, is gelegen aan de fraaie laan, die naar Buitenzorg voert. [3]”,

“Whoever has the privilege to visit these facilities, won’t be complaining about the time spent there. This factory, where one manufactures the intoxicant that is especially loved by the Chinese, lies on the attractive lane leading to Buitenzorg”.

The first opium factory was built on the estate of Landhuis Struiswijk in 1894[4], though we only see the manor (Landhuis Struiswijk) on this 1904 map issued by an Amsterdam book shop:


To enable a higher production, a new factory was built on the surrounding area. At the same time a specially designed railway was built to enable swift transport of the tons of ‘heulsap’, the fluid harvested from the poppy seed bolster, from the harbours to the factory.
This map shows the Batavia Gouvernements Opiumfabriek and the railway on a map by the official tourist bureau of Batavia, dated ca. 1910. The manor house has disappeared.


Click here for the map in the KITLV media library

The local book shop apparently proudly stocked a postcard featuring the factory:


Click here for the image in the KITLV media library

Points of sale (marked ‘opiumverkoopplaats’ on the maps) were to be found all over the islands. One of them is pictured here. Some sources say they were painted light blue and that close to where a person lived they would be situated about 5 km apart, in larger kampongs (villages), near the local passar (market).[4] I have found some of those points of sale on maps, but not as many to verify this observation. Actually I have been searching the database looking for the indication ‘opiumverkoopplaats’ to show in this blog, but I have not been successful yet.



Click here for the image in the KITLV media library


[2] and more pages.

[3] ‘Nou … tabé dan!’: De ‘bootreis’ naar Indië met de Rotterdamsche Lloyd en de ‘Nederland’ tussen 1899 en 1949. Bert L.T. van der Linden


A milestone: 90% of the maps has been georeferenced!


Today our Maps in the Crowd project reached a milestone, with currently 90% of the 6678 maps georeferenced. With only 10% left, the project draws to a close. When all maps have been done, probably sometime in November, we will organise a meeting in the University Library to thank our volunteers. All top-10 finishers will be invited to attend a ‘Maps in the Crowd afternoon’, including lectures, an award ceremony for the overall winner and the runners-up, a tour of our special collections and a reception. We kindly ask our top-10 volunteers to contact us, since we don’t have participants’ personal details. We will then personally invite you to our event. More information about the closing event will follow as soon as possible.

A reservoir of maps: topographical maps of Java before the building of embankment dams

The maps from the KITLV collection that are selected for georeferencing consist for a large part of sheets of topographical map series. The Topographisch Bureau in Batavia was the largest colonial mapping agency in Asia. Only for Java, various series on scales 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 were published in the first half of the twentieth century, as well as series of the residences on scale 1:20,000 starting from the late nineteenth century. Furthermore, topographical map series on scale 1:50,000, 1:100,000 and 1:250,000 were published by the Americans during World War II.

For this blog we concentrate on the 1:25,000 map series and the region between Jakarta and Bandung. In this area three large reservoirs are created on the Citarum River: Waduk Jatiluhur, Waduk Cirata and Waduk Saguling. When we compare the topographical maps of the early twentieth century with the modern situation on Google Satellite, we see the topography changed dramatically.

The first example shows the northern part of Waduk Jatiluhur. The building of this first embankment dam started in 1957. The Jatiluhur Dam became operational in 1967. The dam, built for hydroelectric power generation, water supply, flood control, irrigation and aquaculture, is located in the upper right corner. The map sheet is published in 1918. We see a relatively small meandering river Citarum dominating the map image. Today half of the area of this map sheet is covered by the artificial lake.

1 Jatiluhur
Overlay of the 1918 topographical map of the Waduk Jatiluhur area on Google Maps
Click here for the georeferenced 1918 sheet of Waduk Jatiluhur

In the 1980’s the two other dams were built further upstream, resulting in the involuntary resettlement of over 100,000 people. In the second example we see the northeastern part of Waduk Cirata. The Cirata Dam was primarily constructed for hydroelectric power generation. The topographical map sheet was published in 1920.  Apart from the fact that the water body before the dam is larger than the earlier situation, the width of the river behind the dam clearly decreased. Despite the changed topography, the map was easily georeferenced by using control points along the – still existing – major roads.

2 Cirata
Overlay of the 1920 toographical map of the Waduk Cirata area on Google Satellite
Click here for the georeferenced 1920 sheet of Waduk Cirata

The third example shows the southern part of Waduk Saguling, the most upstream reservoir of the Citarum River. The map sheet was published in 1923. In comparison with the other two reservoirs, the outline of this lake is more erratic in shape because of the hilly nature of the terrain. It is striking how accurate this outline matches the contours, indicating the altitude, on the topographical map.

3 Saguling
Overlay of the 1923 topographical map of the Waduk Saguling area on Google Maps (detail)
Click here for the georeferenced 1923 sheet of Waduk Saguling

The three examples of locations were the landscape changed dramatically, show how useful historical maps can be to understand the history of the landscape and the impact of human interference, in this case the building of embankment dams, on the spatial environment. Accurate map series, like the early twentieth century topographical map of Java 1:25,000, are extremely useful for such analyses.

Kotagede revisited

Earlier we reported about a manuscript plan of the Royal Tombs at Kotagede, the historic neighbourhood in Yogyakarta where the the first capital of the Mataram sultanate is located. In the ground plan for types of graves where distinguished by colour. Because the map was in Javanese script we couldn’t explain more about it at that time. Later, one of our volunteers noticed that there was a copy of the map in Dutch in the collection too.

Original plan of the Royal Tombs in Javanese script

As we suspected, there is a kind of hierarchy in the subdivision of the graves. The purple graves are those of kings and queens that have been canonized by the people. There are only twelve purple graves in the map. The green tombs are of princes and princesses. The red graves are those of further royal relatives. Together these three categories count 295 graves, these are numbered and listed on the map, with the name of the person who has been buried. Of the yellow graves, uncoloured in the copy, it is unknown who they are. These are another c. 250 graves, so in total the cemetery count over 500 graves.

Dutch copy of the plan

Other elements that are indicated in the map’s legend are the wells and basins for cleaning (blue), houses for the keyholders (brown, yellow in the copy) and ‘sawo and other trees’ (point symbol). The lines in red and black indicate, respectively, the stone and wooden walls of the grave houses. Moreover, the Dutch copy of the map gives more information than the Javanese original. On the Dutch map the names (and functions) of the buildings and courtyards are given.

Legend in Javanese (left) and Dutch (right)

These manuscript plans are those in the KITLV collection that are drawn on the largest scale, of about 1 : 150. The complex with mosque and walled courtyards are still visible on a modern satellite image.

kotagede luchtfoto
Satellite image of the complex