Archives created in Asia and South Africa

1. Archives in Indonesia

ar and away the largest archives from the octrooigebied of the voc are those of the central administrative bodies in Batavia. During the Dutch administration, these were kept in the so called Landsarchief, now the Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia (ANRI) in Jakarta.
A printed inventory of this was published in 1882(1). This inventory is quite primitive and it is difficult to trace the various documents back to the administrative bodies which produced the archives in Batavia. The first 99 pages of this inventory concern documents of the Governor-General and Council and of the commissarissen-generaal (commissioners-general). The documents originating from various other administrative agencies in Batavia are mentioned on pages 100-112. Finally, pages 113-354 describe what are called gewestelijke stukken (regional documents). It seems that these harbour a mixture of documents received by the Governor-General and Council from the buitenkantoren (outer establishments) and several miscellaneous remnants of the archives transferred from these buitenkantoren. Moreover, it should be remarked that, in contrast to the voc archives in the National Archives of the Netherlands, the archives in Jakarta were not stopped in 1795. J.A. van der Chijs' inventory contains documents up to and including the English Interregnum (1816), and in a few instances even later.


Bird's-eye view of Samboppe in Macassar; 17th century

(click image to enlarge, approx. 490 kB)

From the point of view of form the archives in Jakarta are largely typical administrative archives, consisting of series of resoluties and enclosures. The arrangement of the archives, however, is somewhat curious. The first category of the inventory contains the stukken uit patria (documents from home). Besides the letters from the Heren XVII (the board of directors), there are also those from individual chambers. Of particular importance among these are letters from those chambers of which very few documents have been preserved in the Netherlands: Delft, Rotterdam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen, as well as letters from the Zeeland Chamber dating from the seventeenth century.

A second category is formed from the Indische stukken (documents produced in Asia). These include the resoluties from the Governor-General and Council in Batavia plus the annexes. The resoluties form a less complete series with the same contents than those in the voc archives in the Netherlands. The series korte notulen (abbreviated minutes) are alphabetical tables of contents which in the voc archives are bound in with the resoluties. There is a series of bijlagen (annexes) which mainly refer to the administration in Batavia and its environs. These annexes are not to be found as a series in the Dutch voc archives. They are very significant for providing background to the decision-making of the Governor-General and Council concerning the administration in Asia. Furthermore, the category Indische stukken contains the dagregisters which were compiled at Batavia Castle, the bulk of which are not to be found in the voc archives in the Netherlands, and letters to the subordinate establishments. Of the latter letters there is a much less complete series than that in the Batavia's uitgaande brievenboek (Batavian letter-book of outgoing documents) in the National Archives of the Netherlands. There is also a small collection of original treaties and contracts concluded with local rulers in Asia.



Contact with one of the local rulers. (click image to enlarge, approx. 490 kB)

The archives of various services and offices of the central administration in Batavia and the archives of the Hoge Raad van Justitie (High Court) have been put into this same category of Indische stukken. It seems that only a small portion of these archives has survived: from several bodies, including the Raad van Justitie, much more is to be found in the copies sent annually to the Netherlands now in the voc archives. The book-keeping registers of the chief accountant in Batavia were brought to the Netherlands last century to replace the duplicates there which had been destroyed in the intervening period (they now constitute the archives of the chief accountant in Batavia in the National Archives of the Netherlands).

The division gewestelijke stukken (regional documents) in the old inventory of the Landsarchief is a combination of widely different documents, which shows no sign of the application of the principle of provenance. The first part, concerning Batavia, contains the archives of all sorts of local administrative bodies and officials like the town administration, the bench of aldermen, and the notarial archives. Some of these were not really voc institutions. However, the second part, referring to the establishments outside Batavia, do indeed consist mainly of voc archives. These are largely originals of documents received, an anthology of transcripts of which is present in the voc archives in The Hague as Batavia's ingekomen brievenboek (Batavian letter-book of incoming documents) in the Overgekomen brieven en papieren (letters and papers received). In this series one would expect to come across the large quantity of documents which had been sent to Batavia from the buitenkantoren. This is not the case as can be checked by using the lists of each consignment of these documents, which are found for each establishment in the Batavia's ingekomen brievenboek. This is the greatest gap in the Jakarta archives. Only from establishments within Indonesian territory, and from these then only from the later voc period, is there any respectable number of documents received preserved. This means that the Batavia's ingekomen brievenboek in the voc archives in The Hague contains far and away the most complete series of letters received from the subordinate establishments in Asia.

top Continue

Search in VOC archives:

Site by Hic et Nunc