The Fagels

A series of Videos about the Fagel Family and their Collections

The Library of Trinity College Dublin and the KB National Library of the Netherlands are collaborating on a video project about the Fagel family and their collections. The private library of the Fagels has been in Dublin since 1802, but traces of their working life and family history can still be found across The Hague. In a series of eight videos we visit the places, people, histories and collections that mattered to them most. After all, we should get to know the Fagels a little bit better before we can begin to understand the full significance of their private library. The first two videos have been released on the Dutch national holiday ‘King’s Day’ (27 April). Thereafter a new video highlighting a specific aspect of the history of the Fagels will be released every other week.

Fagel Collection

The Fagel collection has long been recognised as one of the jewels in the Library of Trinity College. It was built up over five generations of the Fagel family, many of whom held high public office in the Netherlands. Over the course of a century and a half they assembled 30,000 books and pamphlets, as well as an impressive collection of 10,000 maps. It is without doubt one of the most important still extant private libraries from the eighteenth century. The holdings in history, politics and law are particularly substantial, but virtually every other area of human endeavour is included such as philosophy, theology, geography and travels, natural history, the visual arts and much more.

The private library of the Fagels came to Dublin in 1802. Hendrik Fagel de Jonge had lost his position and income as a greffier and had few other options than to sell his collections. The governors of the Erasmus Smith Schools in Dublin put in a successful bid for the entire collection of books on behalf of Trinity College Dublin. In 2020 the Library of Trinity College and the KB National Library of the Netherlands started the project Unlocking the Fagel Collection, which aims to provide digital access to the collection. In the next two years, all books and pamphlets will be catalogued and made available through the online catalogue of the library of Trinity College, and the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands (STCN). It  forms part of the Virtual Trinity Library, a digitisation initiative of the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s most valued collections.

Connections in The Hague

The private library of the Fagels were transferred to Dublin over two centuries ago, but their archives, correspondence and a massive collection of state documents remained in the Netherlands. The prominent role of the Fagels in public life means that there are traces of the family all across The Hague. The house that François Fagel built in the early eighteenth century, is still standing next to the Noordeinde Palace, the administrative offices at the ‘Binnenhof’ are still at the political centre of the Netherlands, and the Fagel archives and correspondence cover over 60 metres in the National Archives today. Furthermore, there is a remarkable connecting between the end of the Fagel collection in The Hague in 1798 and the foundation of the National Library in the same year. One could say the KB came forth from the same revolution that drove the Fagels out of office.

The story of the Fagels is, in other words, goes beyond the Fagels’ private library at Trinity College. These videos aim to present an integrated story of the family, the collections and the collaborative project of the Library of Trinity College and the KB. These eight videos which  were made at significant and recognisable places in The Hague will be followed by a number of videos about the Fagel collection held in the Library of Trinity College Dublin later this summer.