Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Algemeen Hollands Fotopersbureau / Ben van Meerendonk

Since 1990 the IISH holds the large photo collection of the Algemeen Hollands Fotopersbureau (AHF: general Dutch photo press agency). It was founded by photographer Ben van Meerendonk (1913-2008) in 1945.

Although the agency started with several employees, by the fifties it was a one-man business of Van Meerendonk and some assistants. The agency delivered photographs to several Dutch newspapers, such as: De Waarheid, Trouw, De Tijd, Het Vrije Volk, De Telegraaf, Algemeen Dagblad and Het Parool. In addition, some commmercial orders were placed by local shopowners (a hairdresser, bakery, and butcher) as well as by large international companies such as Coca Cola, Philips, and Rank Xerox.

Van Meerendonk developed a few specialties, including photographs of the Dutch Royal family, photoreports on famous Dutchmen in their own home, international celebrities visiting the Netherlands, daily life in Amsterdam (such as Car in canal!, Crash with tram, winter and summer scenes) and sport photography.

Van Meerendonk won the 'Zilveren Camera' award three times (in 1950, 1958 and 1966) for best press photo presented by a jury of photo journalists. He was one of the founders of World Press Photo and secretary of this organisation from 1955 until 1969.

Copyright - license

The copyright on the photographs taken by Algemene Hollands Fotopersbureau (AHF) / Ben van Meerendonk has been transferred to the International Institute of Social History (IISH).
The IISH makes the more than 60,000 photos from the AHF/Ben van Meerendonk collection available as open data under a CC-BY-SA license, the metadata under a CC0 licence. The photos may be distributed and edited, provided that the name of the photographer is mentioned and the photos are made available again under the same license.


A selection of his photos can be found on Flickr, organized around 5 topics:

Thursday 19 October 2006, a street in Amsterdam was named after photographer Ben van Meerendonk.

More photos

  • A selection of 1900 photos from the collection AHF / Van Meerendonk can be viewed as part of the project 'Memory of the Netherlands'
  • Photographs taken by Ben van Meerendonk in the IISH collections.
  • Scans are for sale through the catalogue of the IISH.


  • 'Vroeger toen alles nog leuk was...'(Before, when everything was still fun...)
    IISH, November 10, 1994 - January 6, 1995
  • 'Tsja wat zullen we eten' (Well, what shall we eat)
    Amsterdam - De Burcht, September 23, 1999 - Februari 27, 2000


  • Algemeen Hollands. Ben van Meerendonk en zijn fotopersbureau / Frank de Jong en Marina de Vries. Amsterdam: Aksant Academic Publishers, 2005; ISBN 90-5260-193-3 ; 224 pp.
  • Vroeger toen alles nog leuk was...: een selectie van 135 nieuwe afdrukken naar oorspronkelijke negatieven uit het archief van de Amsterdamse fotojournalist Ben van Meerendonk, voormalig eigenaar en meewerkend directeur van het Algemeen Hollands Fotopersbureau (1945-1969) / Herman Selier. Amsterdam : Stichting beheer IISG, 1994 (sold out)
  • Amsterdam agenda / Ben van Meerendonk. Amersfoort : Bekking, 2003-2008
    Photographs from agenda 2005 at
    Photographs from agenda 2006 at
    Photographs from agenda 2007 at
    Photographs from agenda 2008 at
  • Fotodozen Ons Koninklijk Huis en Bekende Nederlanders. Hoofddorp: Probiblio (
  • "Het kneuterige Nederland van Ben van Meerendonk" / Marina de Vries. de cultuurwijzer voor schoolgaand Nederland, 2003
  • Het jaren 40 boek / Paul Brood, René Kok, Charles de Mooij, Erik Somers en Pascal Viskil. Zwolle, Waanders uitgeverij, 2008
  • Het jaren 50 boek / Charles de Mooij, René Kok, Erik Somers. Zwolle, Waanders uitgeverij, 2004
  • Het jaren 60 boek / Paul Brood, René Kok en Erik Somers. Zwolle, Waanders uitgeverij, 2006