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

Searching & Consulting

All types of collections can be accessed through the IISH catalogue.
At Collections you will find an overview of the materials kept by the IISH.
See also the general descriptions of collections of NEHA, and Persmuseum.


Through the IISH catalogue you can search for books, brochures, magazines, newspapers, music, sound, and documentation.
Online tools are the Labour History Serials Service with tables of contents of journals in the field of "labour history", the database ViVa Women's History in Professional Journals. Other databases can only be consulted in the Reading Room.

Guidance for searching single documents that have no relationship to a archive, such as leaflets, pamphlets, flyers, sheet music, stencils.


Through the IISH catalogue you can search for archival material. IISH’s leading archives are fully available to view online via the Institute’s catalogue. In most other cases, the documents themselves can only be consulted in the Reading Room.
The archival collections are available for research purposes and most of the collections are available without restrictions.
Donors and owners of material on loan to the Institute may, however, impose certain restrictions about accessing, copying, and publishing these collections or parts of collections, including a requirement for expressly requesting permission of the donor or owner. Restricted access to archives may also be necessary to protect the privacy of individuals or because of the physical condition of the material in question.
To find out if access to a collection is limited, read the introduction to the inventory for a specific collection.

Access restricted
For permission to consult a collection with limited access, please submit a written request in advance stating the nature of your study. This may be done using the Restricted Access Archives form.
For more information please contact the Reading Room,

Access closed
Some archives are completely closed. In most cases the donor or owner of such an archive stipulated to forbid access. In other cases, the physical condition of the documents is too poor.
To find out if access to a collection is closed, read the introduction to the inventory for a specific collection.

Visual documents

Through the IISH catalogue you can search for posters, photographs, drawings, buttons, videos and movies.
An overview of used keywords can be found in the thesaurus, see Image & Sound Collections.
Digitized images (low resolution scans) of posters, photos, drawings, buttons etc. are displayed in the catalogue.

NB Due to copyright claims we have been forced temporarily to restrict access to previews of images through our catalogue. As a result, you will find thumbnails stating ‘Access to this resource is closed’ instead of low-resolution previews. We are contacting photographers and designers, contacting Pictoright ( a copyright organization) and are making adjustments in the catalogue descriptions of the material. These actions take time and have to be done carefully. Therefore we are unable to say when we can grant access to (some of the) digital visual materials at again. We’ll keep you informed of future developments.
Note: the metadata records that describe the visual material are accessible via the catalogue.

When consulting the catalogue in the reading room of the IISH, it is still possible to view previews of images. (July 2014)
In some cases it is possible to consult original documents, after consultation with the reading room staff and by appointment only.

Digital collections

The Institute is working on setting up a digital repository. For the duration of the project, the services of digital collections is limited. Digital material can be consulted by appointment only. Please send an e-mail to


All materials are stored in closed-access stacks and cannot be browsed by the public. Request forms must be filled in to request documents. Making online reservations is limited to books, brochures, and serials.
No requests will be handled after 4 p.m. Employees of Public Services will deliver the desired materials quickly to the Reading Room.
Documents requested will be ready on the day of your visit as of 9.30 am.
Staff can set a limit to the number of requests received from a single individual at one time.

For reasons of conservation some collections are only available on microfilms and microfiches. Reading, printing, and scanning equipment is available.

Some collections may be temporarily not available for consultation. This can occur if documents are is being reinventorised, receiving conservation treatment, being digitized, or due to shortage of stack space. An overview.


Prior to your visit it is possible to request archival documents by e-mail. Send an e-mail (at least 24 hours before your visit) to containing the required data. You can repeat this request up to 3 items. Your e-mail must contain the following information:
your name, name of the archive, inventory numbers, and date of your visit.
Books, brochures, and serials can be requested online.


When you're not finished with requested materials by the end of the day, you can reserve the items up to 3 weeks. Please hand in the materials for your next visit at the circulation desk, they will be stored behind the circulation desk and are directly available on your next visit.

The Institute is a reference library which means the library material must be available to everyone. Therefore, no material can be borrowed.