Desmet Paper Collection

This is the Jean Desmet Paper collection, also known as "Jean Desmet's business archive," of The EYE Film Institute in The Netherlands (EYE), one of the most important Dutch audiovisual archives, which preserves and presents both Dutch and foreign films screened in the Netherlands.

The Jean Desmet paper collection is part of the Jean Desmet collection, which "consists mainly of an exceptional group of films, company documents, posters and film stills from the 1910s. The collection contains a large number of unique film prints including many masterpieces that were formerly presumed lost. It also exceeds the boundaries of film history and has great value for the socio-historical description and appreciation of one of the most important decades in modern history as it reflects cinematographic changes and many stories about the 1910s that still need to be unveiled" (UNESCO). It was added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2011 because of its special historical value.

The following figures give answers to common questions about the composition of this collection:

What part of the collection is included in the Media Suite?

Via the Media Suite, EYE offers access to its entire Jean Desmet Paper collection (*) as held in their archive, consisting of more than 124.201 scans (as to July, 2018).

(*) "Although most photos and posters had been catalogued and scanned earlier on, an inventory of Desmet’s paper archive - mostly business papers and administration - took years to complete. The sheer amount of documents is daunting; when the paper archive was digitized, the result was more than 100.000 scans" (EYE Jean Desmet dossier).

This collection can be accessed via the Media Suite thanks to a collaborative effort between the researchers of the MIMEHIST research pilot project, the development team of the Media Suite, the curators at EYE, and CREATE at the University of Amsterdam.

What years does the archive cover?

The Desmet’s business archive is a meticulous documentation of all Jean Desmet’s business activities as well as personal correspondence and documents beginning in 1875 with Desmet’s birth certificate and ending with files related to his passing in 1956 (Olesen, MIMEHIST project deliverable).


Figure 1: Number of papers in the collection over time

How and how often is the data updated in the Media Suite?

The content of the business documents is described in a film archival aid (available here in CKAN), an in an inventory completed in 2011 which includes the description of the folders and their contents.

The folders' metadata is made available by EYE via an export (dump) from the EYE's archival finding aid in Excel. The OCR enrichments (see below) are available via the Media Suite by the CREATE project.

The latest update to the Media Suite's data from EYE Jean Desmet paper collection has been done in July, 2018.

What kind of media is included?

The Desmet paper archive includes business and personal documents (letters, invoices, receipts, among others).


Figure 2: Distribution of the Desmet papers per broad type of content

What portion of the collection is digital?

The entire paper (business) archive has been digitised. This happened in 2007-2008 with subsidies from the Metamorfoze funds which is dedicated to the digitisation of Dutch document/paper heritage collections (Olesen, MIMEHIST project deliverable). All the digitized documents can be viewed via the Media Suite.

Does the collection include enrichments?

Thanks to research done at the CREATE project (University of Amsterdam), experimental object character recognition (OCR) has been applied to the collection. The OCR output is available via the Media Suite, and includes (as to July 2018):

  • Automatic language detection
  • OCR-ed text

In the near future, more automatic enrichments will be added, for example, automatic document type detection (letter, invoice, etc.).


Figure 3:

Where to find more information?

How to search in this collection?

To search the content of this collection, use the Media Suite’s Search tools.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
Maintainer Willem Melder
Last Updated October 4, 2021, 12:24 (CEST)
Created June 19, 2018, 14:21 (CEST)
Data disclaimer This dataset has undergone processing before it was uploaded to this register. Examples of possible processing operations are: filter, transform, enrich, clean, interpret, combine or reconciliate.
Data operations applied filter, merge, OCR
Data processing details 1. An Excel file provided by EYE (containing the same data as the archival finding aid, i.e., folder-level metadata) was cleaned up. 2) The folder-level metadata was assigned to the individual images in each folder. 3) The digital images were made available in a IIIF server. 4) The folder-level metadata was assigned to each image according to the folder it corresponded to. 5) The OCR enrichments were added to each image.
es_index eye-desmet-papers4