Adventures in the Kuyper archive: Column 1: Abraham Who…?

This Kuyper year, our curator of the Protestant Heritage collections, Jasmijn Vervloet, would like to take you on an adventure in the Kuyper archive to gain a better understanding of Abraham Kuyper, the founder of VU Amsterdam.

09/24/2020 | 10:29 AM


Kuyper_blog01A sepia photograph of a young man with piercing dark eyes, casually seated on a chair, a number of books within reach. A face that may seem vaguely familiar to you…? Yes, that’s right! It’s the 23-year-old Abraham Kuyper, the founder of our (Vrije) Universiteit.

Kuyper - remarkably, very often confused with the dutch Catholic architect P. Cuypers -  was a versatile man. The Leiden university-trained theologian and classicist would become closely involved with the Doleantie (1886), but would also become editor-in-chief of no fewer than two newspapers, found a political party (1879), and a (Vrije) University (1880).

A busy man
As if that were not enough, he was a preacher, a passionate politician, built a model ship in his spare time, had 8 children with his wife Johanna, wrote - among other things - 200 books and traveled the world. All in all, a busy boss, on whom opinions were and still are divided.

Full of contradictions
Kuyper was a man full of contradictions, his Protestant teachings were at odds with his belief in progress and development. Fathoming the paradoxical Kuyper requires time, effort and attention, but it will certainly be worth it.

Are you going on an adventure?
This Kuyper year, I would like to take you on an adventure in the Kuyper archive to get to know him better. Through photos, archival documents and objects, we will become acquainted with the different sides of Kuyper. The statesman, the preacher, the journalist, the polemicist, the father and – most of all - the man.

The next blog will be published in the week of Oktober 12. Then you will get to know Kuyper as founder of the first political party in the Netherlands.
Follow the adventures in the Kuyper archive