via NL Times, 08 October 2023: The Huygens Institute, in collaboration with various partners, has made five million scanned documents from the Dutch East India Company (VOC) archives digitally searchable. The initiative, known as the GLOBALISE project, allows for easier access to information on topics such as enslavement and colonial violence. The archives, recognized as UNESCO Memory of the World since 2003, offer new perspectives on Dutch colonial history and are expected to facilitate various types of research.
The documents involved are known as the Transmitted Letters and Papers. They’re from the VOC archives, which have been recognized as UNESCO World Memory since 2003 and contain detailed information about the actions of the VOC in the 17th and 18th centuries. According to the Huygens Institute, these documents bear witness to Dutch colonial history.
The text recognition will lead to new perspectives on the colonial past, project leader Matthias van Rossum said. “The searchability means that information in the archives can be found much more complete and faster. For example, the consequences of the terrible depopulation of the island of Liuqiu near Taiwan by the VOC in 1636 can be found at the click of a button. We know that the VOC was not only a trading company but also acted as a colonial government. But far too little research has been done into this. These archives show how the VOC acted against colonized and non-European societies.”