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

Research accessibility archives of the Netherlands Indies

Among the various archives kept by Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia (ANRI), the ‘Besluiten van de Gouverneur Generaal,  Nederlands Indiё 1816-1942’ are one of the most consulted Netherlands Indies archives. These documents contain information on important decisions made by the most powerful person in the colony at that time. However, due to the now out-dated finding aids used in those days, accessibility of a significant part of this archive, classified as ‘grote bundel’ is an obstacle. ANRI and the Mutual Cultural Heritage team of the Dutch Nationaal Archief are facilitating research in order to improve access to this hidden treasure.

More obstacles

The lack of knowledge on the out-dated finding aids make it difficult to understand the way the ‘grote bundel’ is categorized. The bundles are arranged per subject or case file, but exist inside the verbaal system or chronological ordered series.


In order to improve accessibility of these documents, one has to understand the context in which the archives were made: the decision making process in the colony, the relationship between the central colonial government in the Netherlands and their representatives in the Indies, and the influence of the motherland on the colony. Therefore the research project not only comprises the Netherlands Indies archives in Indonesia but also related archives of the Nationaal Archief. Hopefully this project will generate better understanding of archives creation, especially the context which encompasses the act of classification and documentation in the past, the persons who were involved in the process, and the story behind the archives.

The researcher in this project is Nadia Dwiandari, an archivist of ANRI. She has been working with ‘Algemene Secretarie’ archives for the past 3 years. Her MA thesis is on the archival system of ‘Algemene Secretarie’.