Edelman collection or American children's and young adult books about the Netherlands

Contents of the Edelman collection

Several children's books from the Edelman collection

The collection contains 248 American children’s and young adult books published between 1874 and 2006. The books paint a picture of the Netherlands in the way Americans wanted to see ”Holland” portrayed. They include illustrations of people in traditional costume, windmills, tulip fields, St Nicholas, Peter Stuyvesant and New Amsterdam in unusual designs and bright colours. The image of Holland in the books transferred to the KB is traditional and stereotypical, yet no less fascinating in spite of that. 

You can find these children’s books if you search for “Edelman Collection” (Edelmancollectie) in the CBK. The collection also contains dozens of books for adults, including cookbooks and reference works. These can be found in the KB catalogue by searching for “Edelman Collection” (Edelmancollectie).

Hans Brinker, for example

The Edelman Collection contains 36 different editions of the American favourite Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates, written by Mary Mapes Dodge in 1865. The book also briefly tells the story of an unnamed boy who prevents a flood by sticking his finger in a dyke. This rescue story became iconic and people linked the name of the little boy with his finger in the dyke to the name of the book’s protagonist, Hans Brinker, which is why Hans Brinker has become erroneously embedded in our collective memory as “the little boy who stuck his finger in the dyke.”

Origin of the Edelman collection

Kinderen van Holland, Saskia de Bodt, 2009 (call number 4267546).

Hendrik Edelman donated the collection to the KB in 2004. Dutchman Hendrik Edelman was professor emeritus at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He collected American books on the relationship between the Netherlands and the United States of America, including 19th and 20th-century children’s and young adult books. 

The material provides a surprising insight into the way the Netherlands was and continues to be portrayed in America. This makes it clear that the typical Dutch image, consisting of tulips, windmills, wooden shoes and cheese, actually originated in the United States. Based on this collection, Saskia de Bodt wrote the richly illustrated book Kinderen van Holland: het beeld van Nederland in Amerikaanse kinderboeken (Children of Holland: The Image of the Netherlands in American Children’s Books).

Holland mania

The story of Katrina and her work and play pictured by Frances Brundage, cop. 1914 (call number KW EDELM A 036)

In the 3rd quarter of the 19th century, a curious movement emerged in the United States. The immediate cause was the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the United States in 1876. Famous and lesser known, rich and less affluent Americans claimed that the Dutch Republic, which they affectionately called Holland, was the “mother of America.” 

A stream of American artists travelled to Volendam, Edam, Katwijk, Zeeland or the Veluwe to paint what remained of a bygone world. American tourists came to see where Hans Brinker lived with their own eyes. This remarkable period in American history would become known as “Holland Mania.” In short, there was a lot of interest in Holland and all things Dutch. The Edelman Collection ties in with this.

How can you view the Edelman collection?

Katrina and Jan by Alice Cooper Bailey; illustrated by Herman Rosse, [1923] (aanvraagnummer KW EDELM A 142)

Descriptions of children’s and young adult books can be found in the Centraal Bestand Kinderboeken (CBK)/Central Database of Children's Books via “all words” Edelman Collection. These can be found in the KB catalogue by searching for “Edelman Collection” (Edelmancollectie). The books can be read in the KB’s Special Collections reading room. 

The children’s books and reference works are not lent to KB members. However, libraries and museums can apply for loans from the Edelman Collection for exhibitions.



  • Saskia de Bodt, Kinderen van Holland: het beeld van Nederland in Amerikaanse kinderboeken, 2009 
  • Saskia de Bodt, Children of Holland: the image of the Netherlands in American children's books, 2010 
  • Annette Stott, Hollandgekte: de onbekende Nederlandse periode in de Amerikaanse kunst en cultuur, 1998
  • Annette Stott, Holland mania: the unknown Dutch period in American art & culture, 1998