India: National Archives of the Netherlands and Kerala State Archives start cooperation
On Thursday 17 October, the National Archives of the Netherlands (NAN) and the Kerala State Archives Department signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) regarding the preservation and digitisation of Dutch records in Kerala, India. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands – who paid a state visit to the Republic of India – attended the signing of the cooperation agreement in the Mattancherry Palace in Kochi.
The historical Malabar Coast
The Dutch East India Company (VOC) established numerous trading posts along the Southwest coast of India, called the Malabar Coast (roughly modern day Kerala). The headquarters of the VOC in Malabar was in Cochin (present-day Kochi). The collection of the Regional Archives Ernakulam comprises documents written in several South Indian and European languages, and it includes peace treaties, petitions and correspondence between local rulers and the VOC.
Digitising for accessibility
The archives offer valuable insights into the Dutch presence in Southwest India and interaction between the Dutch and the local population. The archives in Kochi are complementary to other archives that have already been digitised, like the VOC archives at NAN and the VOC collection of the Tamil Nadu Archives in Chennai. After digitisation, the documents will be transcribed with Semi-Automatic Handwritten Text Recognition software.
On the occasion of the royal couple’s visit to the Mattancherry Palace (also known as the Dutch Palace), Indian and Dutch cultural heritage specialists gave a presentation on relations between Kerala and the Netherlands in the past, present and future. The King and Queen were given a tour of the palace (today a museum) and opened a Dutch gallery where reproductions of documents from the collection of NAN pertaining to the Dutch presence in Kerala in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were shown.