13 September 2017

New Shared Heritage Documents online

30,000 digital images of the Archives of the States General have been added to the website of the National Archives

Map of the Coast of Guinea, between Cape Tres Puntas and Kormantyn (detail), 17th century, National Archives of the Netherlands

30,000 digital images of the Archives of the States General of the Netherlands (‘Archief van de Staten-Generaal’) have been added to the website of the National Archives of the Netherlands. The parts of the archives that have been recently digitised are confined to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and West India Company (WIC). The States General exercised supervision over the trading companies and provided part of the funding for military operations and expeditions. The Archives of the States General contain several series of bundles (liassen) and single documents on both the trading companies. The archives are an important source for the history of the WIC in particular, the greater part of whose archives have been lost due to bad storage conditions, fire, or other reasons.

America first
Among the digitised sources is a manuscript of Beschryvinge van Nieuw-Nederlant (A description of New Netherland) by Adriaen van der Donck (ca. 1618-1655). After graduating from Leiden University, Van der Donck decided to seek a career in the Dutch colony of New Netherland. His Beschryvinge, first published in 1655, was an attempt to attract other settlers to the colony in North America. His text is primarily a description of the province and its geography, Native American inhabitants, and economic prospects, and is therefore an essential first-hand account with enduring value.

Within the framework of the Shared Cultural Heritage Programme, the National Archives of the Netherlands will digitise more archival sources related to the VOC and WIC in the future.