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

Presentation Africa volume of the Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch East India Company

In November 2009 the first copy of the Africa volume of the series Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch East India Company was presented at the Nationaal Archief. The atlas, in which all surviving manuscript maps and drawings from the VOC territories in Africa are reproduced, contains mostly material held at the Nationaal Archief. The Comprehensive Atlas project is one of the ways in which the Netherlands is providing access to important sources relating to the history of other countries.

Presentation of the Atlas

In the context of the Mutual Cultural Heritage project, two senior staff members specialising in information management and image materials travelled to South Africa in March 2010 to attend a seminar in order to explain this project and other digitisation projects involving the map collection. During the official part of the meeting before the presentations, the Consul General, Mr. David de Waal, presented the Atlas to the provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs, Sports and Recreation, Mr. Sakkie Jenner.

An important collection

During the conference in Cape Town, it became apparent that the publication of the atlas has fulfilled an important need. Several renowned researchers praised the work of publishing house Asia Maior and the Nationaal Archief in publishing the series. Almost all of the oldest maps of South Africa have been held at the Nationaal Archief since De Graaff, Governor of the Cape and a cartographer, brought them with him at the end of the eighteenth century so that he could continue his work in the Netherlands. They are held in the archives of the Dutch Topographic Service.

The publication of the Africa volume of the atlas has made available a wealth of source material on the history of the Cape.