National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

A wealth of new information for the guide 'Dutch sources on South Asia'

For part three of the series ‘Dutch Sources on South Asia, c. 1600-1825’, named: ‘Archival Guide to Repositories outside The Netherlands’, Lennart Bes of the Nationaal Archief has visited eight repositories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India in the period from November 2010 to January 2011. The primary goal was to describe relevant archival material of which no finding aids are available in the Netherlands or exist at all.


Most time in Indonesia was spent at the Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia in Jakarta. Since the efforts of the TANAP-project have already greatly improved the accessibility of the main VOC-archives located here, Lennart focused on other, less well-known Dutch collections. Especially the ‘Buitenland’ collection turned out to contain a lot of unique and valuable information about South Asia, including documents in various Indian languages. A visit to the Perpustakaan Nasional Republik Indonesia (National Library) revealed some more relevant materials.

Sri Lanka

At the National Archives and the Survey Department of Sri Lanka in Colombo, Lennart described dozens of maps kept in the regular map collections and in the archives of the Dutch establishments at Colombo, Galle and Jaffna. In the National Archives, he also researched some private archives that include scattered Dutch papers. Finally he visited the Colombo National Museum to inventory the small collection of ‘Dutch manuscripts’ and found a set of church records from Galle at the main office of the Christian Reformed Church.


After obtaining permission from the headquarters of the Kerala State Archives in Thiruvananthapuram, Lennart visited the Regional Archives Ernakulam in Cochin to describe the recently discovered collection of ‘Dutch records’, which contains about 120 documents concerning the VOC in Malabar. Some of the documents are letters to the local kings richly decorated with gold foil.

The result of the work trip is that another 40 pages can be added to the guide. The publication is planned for late 2011 or early 2012. The MCH newsletter will keep you updated.