Last year, together with its archiving partners in Brazil, Curacao, Ghana, Guyana, Suriname, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Dutch Nationaal Archief took the initiative to propose to UNESCO to declare the archives of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) a UNESCO Memory of the World (MoW), and include these archives in the Memory of the World Register.
Archives of the WIC
The archives of the Dutch West India Company (WIC), and the archives of the Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC), offer insight into a significant part of international history: the European expansion into West-Africa and North- and South-America. They tell us about conquest, trade, slavery and more. In some parts of the Atlantic region, the archives of the WIC are the only contemporary written sources documenting the history.
Atlantic Days to celebrate UNESCO status
This initiative proved to be succesful: on 25 May 2011, the WIC archives were officially proclaimed to be a UNESCO Memory of the World. The Dutch Nationaal Archief celebrated this with a symposium, the Atlantic Day, which highlighted the research potential of this source. The Atlantic Day was organised on the 3rd of November 2011. (On the 4th of November the second Atlantic Day was celebrated in the town of Middelburg, organised by the Zeeuws Archief.)
The occasion of the Atlantic Day also gave the opportunity to draw attention to the Nationaal Archief's own collection and activities in the context of the Mutual Culture Heritage Program.
Program and speeches
The final program of the Atlantic Day on the 3rd of November is available on this website.
You can also read the speeches held on the first of the Atlantic Days:
- Opening by Mrs. Judith van Kranendonk, Director-General Cuture & Media, Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Note: Due to the absence of Mrs. Van Kranendonk her opening speech was read by Mr. Martin Berendse.)
- Speech by Mrs. Ida de Kat-van Meurs, Deputy Head International Cultural Policy Unit, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Speech by Mr. Martin Berendse, National Archivist and Director of the Nationaal Archief
- 'The Company as knowledge network', lecture by Mr. Henk den Heijer, Professor of Maritime History at Leiden University
- 'Survivors of the paper mill: Three Brazilian manuscript rutters from the Amsterdam Chamber of the WIC. The evolution of their informative contents', lecture by Mr. Ben Teensma, expert on Dutch-Brazilian history
- 'Mutual Cultural Heritage Program 2009-2012. International cooperation in the field of "mutual heritage"', presentation by Mr. Roelof Hol, Program Director Mutual Cultural Heritage, Nationaal Archief