The year refers to the date when the document was created. Incidentally, it can refer to a date mentioned in the document itself too.
Frequently, the VOC did not write a date at the top or bottom of the document. In these cases the Database of VOC Documents uses the year the VOC establishment shipped the documents to Batavia. As a rule, when an establishment sent copies of documents to Batavia, a covering letter to the High Government was added, the so-called hoofdbrief. In most cases, this letter is dated. When this covering letter is missing too, the document is dated with the year Batavia received the documents. As a rule, a VOC servant put this date on the accompanying register of documents (the list of contents a VOC servant used to check which documents were shipped).
Unfortunately, it was impossible to do historical research concerning the exact moment each document was created.
When a document refers to more than one year, e.g. when a document consists of a series of resolutions or a series of journals, the document has been given the date of the oldest item. As the description of a document always includes the date the document was received in Batavia (mentioned between brackets), the researcher is able to find the document on the earliest year as well as on the most recent year.
However, when a document includes annexes of earlier years, these years have been neglected and the document has been dated by the year it was created. Nevertheless, when the year of the annexes has been mentioned in the description of the document, the year is automatically generated by the database, so a researcher can find these annexes of earlier years too.
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