The Titus Brandsma family archive in Archives Portal Europe

We are really happy to announce that the family archive of Titus Brandsma is now available on Archives Portal Europe at this link.

The archive contains 2,5 metres of letters and postcards from Brandsma to his family, as well as photos, poetry, publications, and other valuable documents related to Brandsma. The archive was originally gifted to the Archive- and Documentation-Centre for Roman Catholic Friesland Foundation (ADRKF) by the Hettinga family from Bolsward, the descendants of Brandsma’s sister Gatske de Boer-Brandsma, and it later grew through a series of ingestions.

The archive was digitised thanks to the Digitised & Upload grant, a collaboration between Archives Portal Europe and Europeana – the project included the full digitisation of the archival catalogue, of about 2400 records, now fully searchable on APE here, and the digitisation of the letters and postcards by Brandsma, 240 items that are accessible on Europeana if on public domain (at this link), and fully accessible on APE from ArchivesSpace (for images not on Pubic Domain a login page will appear – without credentials, a scan can be requested via email at the address

Titus Brandsma was a Carmelite friar, priest, publicist, and professor, a very important figure in Dutch history. Born in the buurtschap (a type of hamlet) Ugoklooster on the 23rd of February 1881, he held the chair of Professor in Philosophy & History of piety from 1923 until his death at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, where he was also rector in 1932-1933. As advisor to the Nederlandsche Rooms-Katholieke Journalistenvereeniging (Dutch Roman-Catholic Journalists Association), Brandsma played a role in the modernisation of the catholic newspaper press, and the improvement of the working conditions of catholic journalists. He also championed Frisian causes, such as the emancipation of Frisian Catholics and conserving Frisian heritage. Furthermore, he was an important thinker in Carmelite mysticism, and his collection of copies of medieval mystical manuscripts led to the foundation of the Titus Brandsma Institute. In 1939, Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1962) knighted Brandsma in the Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (Order of the Dutch Lion) for his altruistic achievements. Before and during World War II, Brandsma was an influential critic of National Socialism and racism. He also resisted the expulsion of Jewish students from Catholic schools. In 1942, the Nazi-regime arrested him for his criticisms and transported him to the Dachau concentration camp, where he died of a lethal injection following a period of abuse and sickness, on the 26th of July 1942. Pope John Paul II beatified Brandsma in 1985.

To show the importance and popularity of Titus Brandsma in Dutch culture, our Country Manager for the Netherlands Reem Weda explained that “When I was young I saw the face of friar Titus Bransma many times. He died long before me, but my parents had a almost lifesized bust statue of him in the study room of my father. I myself was babtized in the Titus Brandsma parish in Leeuwarden, the provincial capital of the province where Brandsma lived and worked, and where I am working again now. I am very happy to see this archive found it’s way through APE to Europeana, so that it can be seen by all.”

An article on the digitisation of the archives appeared on the local newspaper Friesch Dagblad and it is available here (in Dutch)

You can read here the full report of the project, with a detailed description of the archive, its history, and the methodology used by the ADRKF for its digitisation.

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