We are most pleased to welcome you to our upcoming CREATE Salon on accessibility of VOC Archives.

Date: Tuesday, 7th of December, 2021
Time: 15:00 – 16:30
Location: zoom link
Language: English

Given the new regulations, this event will be entirely virtual now.
We look forward to seeing you!

This salon consists of two presentations:

Matthias van Rossum and Lodewijk Petram

Starting in early 2022, the GLOBALISE project of the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands and four partners will develop an online infrastructure that unlocks ‘General Letters’ of the VOC for advanced new research methods. Matthias van Rossum and Lodewijk Petram will talk about the project’s plans to recognise and identify entities (such as places, persons and commodities) and events in the text, and link these to a comprehensive collection of historical reference data related to the history of the VOC and the early-modern Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago worlds.

The General Letters (Generale Missiven) are the key series of VOC reports from the company’s Asian headquarters in Batavia (now Jakarta) to the Dutch Republic. Spanning nearly the entire 17th and 18th centuries, this series of approximately 105,000 handwritten folios provides detailed and structured overviews of historical events and social, political, and economic developments occurring in the vast region where the VOC was active. It is therefore of crucial importance to our understanding of the history of the world.

Unsilencing Dutch Colonial Archives
Charles Jeurgens, Giovanni Colavizza and Mrinalini Luthra

Traces of enslaved and indigenous people are ubiquitous in the Dutch colonial record, albeit fragmented and scattered, making them hard to find. Furthermore, to consult such archives users must conform to the colonial information structures and logic.In this project, a new form of ethically responsible access is developed with the help of artificial intelligence, with two objectives. First, to allow users to find information about all individuals, not only those who have traditionally received most attention, but especially the marginalized who so far live a hidden existence in the vast Dutch colonial archives. Secondly, to do this without being forced to use offensive terms in key-word search. The project pilots on the archives of the VOC testaments, with the aim of developing a toolkit applicable across all Dutch colonial archives.

In this talk, the speakers will discuss their pilot Unsilencing the VOC Testaments and their persons-oriented approach to colonial archives.