Jan Tinbergen Collection

In 1969 Jan Tinbergen (1903-1994) was the first and until now only EUR scholar to receive a Nobel Prize for his contribution to the advancement of science. Since 1933 he had been working at the Nederlandsche Handels-Hoogeschool (Netherlands School of Commerce – since 1939 Nederlandse Economische Hogeschool/ Netherlands School of Economics (NSE), the predecessor of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

He started as Professor by special appointment for Statistics and Further Mathematics (in 1945 expanded with Mathematical economics and Econometrics), in 1956 followed by an appointment as Professor of Development Planning. In 1966 the study of the Planned Economies was added to his professorship.

Jan Tinbergen (standing third from left) among a group of fellow NSE professors with Fulbright visiting scholar Professor M.J. Unger from the University of Maryland (in the middle, with gown and cap) at the university premises at the Pieter de Hoochweg, April 1959. Photographer unknown. Collection Historical Photo Archive EUR.

After four years of lobbying, in 1956 he managed, together with Professor Henri Theil, to found an Econometric Institute at the NSE. Being one of the founding fathers of the econometric discipline, it was for his contributions in that field that in 1967 he was awarded the Erasmus Prize, followed two years later by the Nobel Prize in Economics (together with Professor Ragnar Frisch from Norway).
 
 
Click here to read the Nobel Prize lecture that Jan van Tinbergen gave at the award ceremony in Stockholm.


Tinbergen had a strong interest in the economic development of the so-called “developing countries”, which he also showed in his teaching efforts at the NSE. In 1958, for example, he became the head of the newly founded Vormingscentrum voor Ontwikkelingsprogrammering (Educational Center for Development Planning). One of his students in those years was Jan Pronk, who later became minister of Development Cooperation in various Dutch administrations (1973-1977 and 1989-1998).

Already in 1962 the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague (since 2009 a EUR institute) awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contribution to the scientific research of the global development issue.

Besides his academic work at the NSE Tinbergen was for many years a key-adviser to the UN for development planning, as well as adviser to the governments of various countries (for example India). After his retirement in 1973 he continued to work on his research, taught classes at the EUR, and became very active in the public debate on various societal issues.

In 1987 the University of Amsterdam, the Free University Amsterdam and the EUR named their newly founded shared economic research institute after Jan Tinbergen.

Academic heritage

The archive of Jan Tinbergen is absolutely unique in the Netherlands, as the the (non-digitized) archive of the other Dutch Nobel Prize Winner in the Economics (Tjalling Koopmans, 1975) is kept at Yale University.

After the death of Professor Tinbergen in 1994, Erasmus University Library became responsible for safekeeping his archive. It consists of two distinct parts:

•    His private academic library (10 meter);
•    Archival materials off various sorts (15 meter).

The library can be browsed via our library search engine sEURch. The books can only be consulted within the library building. This manual explains how you can find and request titles from this collection.

The correspondence from the period 1927-1955 has been digitized and is available via a website: https://tinbergenletters.eur.nl/. Please note that due to copyright restrictions, the incoming letters are not available online.

On this website you can also find out more about the composition and history of the archive.

Due to conservation efforts the physical materials are presently not available for research.

More information

Mr. P. van Leeuwen MA
Faculty liaison for History, Cultural Sciences and Media & Communication
Tel: +31 (0)6 40 74 51 58
e-mail: pieter.vanleeuwen@eur.nl