Archives created in Asia and South Africa

10. Private Papers

rivate papers often include great quantities of official documents or collections of professional documents(18). Archives of officials like the Brugman Collection contain the ex officio correspondence and other documents relating to the work of the person who formed the archives, whereas the collections of documents originate from documentation collected as background material by VOC officials.

The documents of VOC employees in Asia, which are found in family archives, are usually typical batches of official documents. In contrast, the archives of the directors which were formed in the Netherlands, such as that of the Radermacher family, are typical collections of documentation to which the directors could refer for decisions affecting their policy. The smaller collections of documents often contain both a few official documents such as letters of appointment as well as other personal documents, which have been preserved more for their curiosity value or as memorabilia.

One interesting aspect of archives of officials in private archives collections is that they often present a picture that is only incompletely reflected in the archives of the VOC and its establishments. Some archives of employees show that, in reality, there was a much greater and more varied correspondence carried on than appears from the documents in the official VOC archives. Typical examples of these are the archives of Wollebrand Geleynssen de Jongh about Persia and Surat and of Vernet about Bengal.


The most important archives of functionaries are:

  • Alting, W.A. (1724-1800), 1596-1796 (Governor-General) and Engelhard, N. (1761-1831), seventeenth century-1831 (various functions in Java) (partly in the former Tweede Afdeling in the family papers Van Alphen and Engelhard)(19);
  • Brugmans, P.A. and A., 1612-1870 (advocate of the Amsterdam Chamber; master of the equipage in Batavia)(20);
  • Cnoll, Govert (1644-1710), 1678-1709 (various functions in Java)(21);
  • Geleynssen de Jongh, Wollebrand (1594-1674), 1612-1648 (director in Surat and Persia)(22);
  • Kal, Jacob van (1754-1829), 1781-1811 (various functions in Melaka, Riau and Batavia(23);
  • Nederburgh, S.C. (1762-1811) (advocate and commissaris-generaal) and family, eighteenth-twentieth century(24);
  • Sweers, Salomon; Jeremias van Vliet; Jacques Specx; and François Mannis, seventeenth century (many functions)(25);
  • Vernet, G.L., 1746-1766 (director in Bengal)(26);
  • Wttewaal, Jan, and Hendrik van Staveren, 1754-1888 (VOC employees in Celebes and Sumatra)(27).

Memorabilia of families:

  • Goens, family Van, seventeenth to nineteenth century (Governor-General, Governors of Ceylon et al.)(28);
  • Hoorn and Van Riebeeck, families Van, seventeenth-eighteenth century (Governors-General)(29);
  • Polanen, Rogier Gerard van (1757-1833) (clerk to the Raad van Jusititie)(30).

Archives of functionaries:

  • Gijsels, Artus, (various functions in the Indonesian Archipelago) in the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe(31);
  • Hoorn, J. van (Governor-General), in the Leiden University Library.

Family memorabilia:

  • Pieter Nuyts (Governor of Taiwan), in the Huydecoper family archives in the State Archives of Utrecht.

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