VOC ARCHIVES CREATED IN ASIA AND SOUTH AFRICA


Contents
  Introduction
1. Archives in Indonesia
2. Archives transferred from Batavia to the Netherlands
3. Archives in India
4. Archives transferred from India to the Netherlands
5. Archives in Sri Lanka
6. Archives from Melaka, kept in the Netherlands
7. Archives transferred from China to the Netherlands
8. Archives transferred from Japan to the Netherlands
9. Archives in Cape Town
10. Private Papers
11. Collection Aanwinsten of the National Archives of the Netherlands

Introduction

he VOC archives consist of the archives of the boards of directors of the six chambers and several archives from departments and offices of these chambers. However, many more institutions and persons working under the aegis of the VOC produced archives but only a part of their archives has been preserved. A number of institutions and persons from among these can be singled out: there are the archives of the establishments of the Company in the octrooigebied (the area under charter to the Company), the archives of the subordinate offices of these establishments, and archives of officials of the VOC in the Dutch Republic and of the VOC employees in the octrooigebied. Some of these archives have remained in the place where they were created, some are to be found in public archive depositories in the Netherlands, and yet others have ended up in manuscript collections at home in the Netherlands and abroad.

Only a few of the archives of the many establishments of the VOC in the octrooigebied are still left. The largest and most important of these are located in countries with climatologically adverse conditions and are sometimes in a precarious state. Moreover, the lacunae in them are much more serious than those in the VOC archives in the Netherlands. As a result, searching abroad for the text of a document which has been lost in the Netherlands is in many cases fruitless effort. On the other hand, the archives of establishments in the octrooigebied also contain a lot of material that was never sent to the fatherland, in particular documents concerning the local administration.

The archives still remaining in the Arsip Nasional (National Archives) in Jakarta consist of the archives of the Governor-General and Council, other government bodies in Batavia, and fragments of archives from other establishments in Indonesia. In Sri Lanka, India, and South Africa are still extensive archives of the former VOC establishments there. Among these archives those of Batavia are the largest, but many of the series have disappeared from the archives or there are only fragments now present. As far as the structure is concerned, the archives of Ceylon and South Africa are the most intact. Also in a reasonably good condition, in particular the section from the eighteenth century, are the Malabar archives in Chennai (Madras), but their structure is no longer easily discernible because of a chronological reorganization which took place under English rule. In the National Archives of the Netherlands in The Hague, besides the VOC archives proper, there are also documents originating from the Hoge Regering (Governor-General and Council) and the accountant-general in Batavia, the archives of the factories in Japan and Canton, and fragments of the archives of Dutch establishments in India. Smaller parts of the archives of officials and factories can also be come across in family archives and manuscript collections.

In general, it can be stated that the structure of the overseas administrative archives is somewhat ambivalent. Contemporaneous Dutch administrative archives are usually based on one or more series of resoluties (proceedings) with annexes, but in the various archives of the VOC establishments the marked deference to higher authority (the Governor-General and Council in Batavia, c.q. the directors in the Dutch Republic) led to correspondence with superiors being accorded a central place, while the resoluties with their annexes are directed more towards the local administration. This is the reason that alphabetical indexes on the correspondence with superiors occur more frequently superiors than indexes on the resoluties. The dagregisters (diaries) occupy a place apart in the structure of the archives. It sometimes seems that these dagregisters, as is the case with the English factory archives, form the backbone of the archives. Namely, in the dagregisters there is a detailed report of incoming and outgoing correspondence. However, it is only on rare occasions that this role is really evident.

Dutch judicial and notarial archives also evolved in the octrooigebied of the VOC. In principle these archives were produced by VOC employees or persons or bodies which were subject to the local VOC authorities. Such judicial and notarial archives have generally been kept in the archives of the particular establishment. They are present in Jakarta, Sri Lanka, India, and Cape Town, and for Japan and Canton in the National Archives of the Netherlands in the Netherlands. One part of the legal archives from Batavia (several series from the archives of the bench of aldermen and the weeskamer or orphan board) was transferred to the National Archives of the Netherlands in the nineteenth century.


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