Wat is in it for me?

This Database of VOC Documents is not complete yet. We intend to describe all documents of the VOC in all countries that keep VOC archives. The completion of the database will take many years to come.

We started to fill the database with the descriptions of the documents shipped from VOC establishments in Asia and South Africa to the Board of Directors of the VOC in the Netherlands. This series, called Overgekomen Brieven en Papieren (OBP), is kept at the National Archives of the Netherlands.

Up till now, about 150,000 descriptions are available.
These descriptions cover 3,978 volumes of the period 1607-1794.

period       OBP series Amsterdam Chamber
1607-1703  Item numbers 1053-1669 (except 1663-1666)
1734-1792  Item numbers 2325-3987

                 OBP series Zeeland Chamber
1682-1782  Item numbers 7527-9179 (so-called Indirecte Vaart)
1672-1790  Item numbers 10406-10435 (so-called Directe Vaart)

Note: the OBP series Zeeland Chamber so far entered in the database, only contains documents shipped via Batavia to the Netherlands (the so-called Indirecte Vaart), not the so-called Directe Vaart (see below for explanation), except for the VOC establishments Persia and Surat. Moreover, note that the Zeeland series is hiatus for several establishments, especially concerning Ceylon from 1748 on.

On this page we will keep you informed about the progress. Moreover, with the search option search on reference code you can check yourself which item numbers (volumes and bundles) are already included in the database.

The VOC establishments in Asia and South Africa sent duplicates of part of their administration to Batavia (modern-day Jakarta). Batavia was the seat of the Hoge Regering (High Government). This supreme authority of the VOC in Asia and Africa consisted of the Governor-General and the Council of the Indies, who managed the VOC on behalf of the Board of Directors in the Netherlands.

In Batavia, part of these documents were copied again in twofold and shipped to the Netherlands. It was copied in twofold because the Board of Directors alternately met in the VOC offices in Amsterdam and Middelburg and consequently kept two archives. These VOC offices (chambers) were called Kamer Amsterdam and Kamer Zeeland. (Middelburg is the capital of the province of Zeeland.) As a result, the National Archives of the Netherlands keeps two series.

The Amsterdam series and the Zeeland series differ very much.

The Amsterdam series has been arranged in chronological order, whereas the Zeeland series has been arranged according to establishment. Moreover, the volumes of the Amsterdam Chamber include those documents that were shipped directly to the Netherlands (the so-called Directe Vaart), instead of sending them via Batavia (the so-called Indirecte Vaart). The Zeeland Chamber bound the Directe Vaart documents in separate series of volumes.

Documents exclusively addressed to one of the two chambers cannot be found in both series. Moreover, some documents that have survived in one of the series are missing in the other series. Besides, the Zeeland series is hiatus and only comprises documents of the period 1680 - 1790, whereas the Amsterdam series spans the entire period 1602-1795.

Nevertheless, the Database of VOC Documents was started with the description of the Zeeland series, because a typescript of the contents of the Amsterdam series is already available for researchers in the reading room of the National Archives of the Netherlands. After finishing the 
Zeeland series (except for the so-called Directe Vaart documents), the project continued with the Amsterdam series as far as duplicates of the documents are not available in the Zeeland series.

As long as not all OBP documents have been included in this database, researchers are advised also to consult the typescript in the reading room of the National Archives of the Netherlands.

Moreover, if you want to find all available VOC documents, never forget to consult on the TANAP website the 125 VOC inventories from all over the world.