- 1 Dutch presence in the Dutch East Indies
- 2 The colonial order
- 3 Enquire within your (greater) family
- 4 Find out what has been written about your family
- 5 Ask for personal record cards
- 6 Get to know all you can about the war years and repatriation
- 7 Search in Indo-European basic data sources
- 8 Chinese roots
- 9 Research into civil servants and soldiers
- 10 Forebears in the time of the VOC
Many Netherlanders have an Indo-European family history. For example, their ancestors worked in the Dutch colony and started a family there. Researching that Indo past is often a challenging task. Administrative trails are not always left, frequently, sources have either not been saved or are difficult to access. Furthermore, you need to have a certain amount of knowledge about the European presence in ‘the East’ and about social relations in Indo-European society.
Nonetheless, there is still much material to be found. In this introduction to the research into your Indo-European family tree a number of steps have been given that you can follow so you’re your research will maintain a certain system. Thereby the historical and societal background of the relationships between Europe and Asia will be comprehensively addressed.
Dutch presence in the Dutch East Indies
Family relationships existed between people from the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies since about 1600. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century roughly one million people in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) travelled to Asia. Approximately half of them came from abroad. The rest, roughly half a million, were men and a couple of thousand women, originating in the Netherlands. Many of them would never set foot on their native soil again. They died at sea or settled in the Dutch East Indies, often without leaving a trace of themselves behind in the Netherlands.
When Indonesia became a colony of the Netherlands in 1816, the number of Europeans that lived there remained modest for a long time. The majority of them worked in the service of the government, as civil servants or in the Dutch East-Indian army. The proportion of Europeans in a non-governmental position (‘private’ individuals) only began to increase after the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when the government adopted laws that gave free rein to private industry. As a result, many agricultural, mining enterprises and trading companies established themselves in the Dutch East Indies, especially on Java.
Most Indo-European Netherlanders who lived in the Dutch East Indies in the time of the Japanese occupation (1942-1945) are therefore (in the male line) descendants of Europeans who had settled in Asia after 1870 in Asia. However, long before then, from the 16th century, a European-Asiatic mix of cultures had come into being, which often came into the Indo-European families via the female line.
This dossier is directed at originally European families, principally from the Netherlands, but also from the German-language countries and Scandinavia, who settled in the East and entered into relationships with Asiatic women.
The colonial order
Firstly, before we go further, a couple of remarks about the colonial state that Dutch East Indies was, and the sharp lines of demarcation in society between in one hand a small group of privileged Europeans and the like, and on the other hand ‘inlanders’ (in the language of the day) and ‘foreign Easterners’ (Chinese and Arab, among others), that made up the vast majority of the population. Where the first fell under European law, the Asians under the authority of their ‘indigenous’ heads and thus had their own legal system.
The question as to whom the first, privileged group belonged, is not as easy as you would first think. Expressed simply, someone was from a legal viewpoint a European if his father also was and if he (or she) descended from a legal marriage, or was legally recognized by his (her) natural father or another European man. This was a very large group. Furthermore, the Asiatic wives of European men were also counted as being European. That applied to Jews and to the African soldiers of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL), the so-called belanda hitam.
From a legal viewpoint there was no difference between white Europeans (‘totoks’) and Indo-Europeans, that is to say people of mixed European-Asiatic blood who also counted as being part of the European population. In practice the chances of ‘Indos’ social success were less great than those of the totoks. Furthermore, in the course of the nineteenth century their position seems to have been weakened, although there were enough Indo-European men who were able to work themselves into good positions.
One good example was Christiaan George Burgemeestre. He lived from 1812 to 1895 and both his grandmothers were Asiatic women. He joined as a civil servant of the government and reached the high position of secretary to the board of orphanages in Batavia. In this position he earned 700 Dutch guilders per month. In comparison: an assistant at a residency and a legal clerk for a judge had to make do with 100 guilders per month less.
The inequality between Europeans and non-Europeans created great societal demarcation lines, it also had major consequences for genealogical research. In the burgerlijke stand civil registry of the Dutch East Indies that was implemented in October 1828, only the Europeans were included. There was therefore no administration for the registration of births and deaths for the Asiatic population.
Enquire within your (greater) family
The first step in the search for Indo-European family history is no different from that of a Dutch one: begin your research close to home, with your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Ask them what they know about the family. Ask for names (preferably in full), occupation, career, domiciles and family anecdotes. If you interview, don’t ask suggestive questions, but open ones. Take notes as much as possible, but take into account that what you hear might be somewhat coloured and based on memories that are often faded. It therefore makes sense to check with the data the family has given you verbally at a later stage in your research on the basis of the archives.
It is also important to ask for photos and documents. If you are lucky, old boxes or ring binders that are hidden deep away in a cupboard or attic contain interesting papers. Think about extracts from registers of the Indonesian burgerlijke stand civil registry, decisions on appointments, certificates of ownership, personal documents, letters or postcards, or an old 'Asal Oesoel' – a certificate of descent that the Europeans were obliged to draw up during the Japanese occupation in order to establish the percentage of European or Asiatic blood they had. If in the eyes of the Japanese they had enough Asiatic forebears, then they did not have to go into the so-called ‘Jap camps’. For example, if you had a Javanese mother, the chance was great that you would be able to stay out of the camps.
Find out what has been written about your family
Look if there was anything published earlier about your family and save yourself from doing work double. You begin with the CBG Genealogical Directory Genealogisch Repertorium. That contains references to books or articles in which a minimum of three generations of a family are described. The Genealogisch Repertorium is up to date until 2015. You will find the result by typing in a family name at our website CBG Library CBG Bibliotheek.
There is also Janssen’s Indo-European Directory Janssen’s Indisch Repertorium. This is an index of family names that is present that appear in printed genealogical and related publications about the east and west Dutch East Indies. Janssen's Indisch Repertorium currently contains more than 278 thousand references to 65 thousand family names. The Directory is a part of the website of theIndisch Genealogische Vereniging (Indo-European Genealogical Association).
In addition to these two directories the collection of the Indo-European Family Archive Indisch Familie Archief (IFA) is important. The IFA is an archive and information centre that collects data about European and Indo-European families of the former Dutch East Indies and makes it accessible for descendants and other interested parties. In this way you will find photos, family books and dossiers covering more than sixteen thousand families. Via the IFA website IFA-website you can easily check whether there is a dossier of your family or a related family. These dossiers can be examined on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Central Library on the Spui in The Hague, in which the IFA is housed. You can find the exact opening hours on the website of the IFA.
A fourth resource in your research is Google. These days there is a large amount of result of family research placed online and, who knows, maybe this might also apply to your family. Almost everyone uses Google, but not everyone know about smart search terms such as double quotation marks (“Leo Janssen”) to find an exact word combination, and the minus sign (Batavia -Lelystad -ship), that saves you from getting superfluous hits (in this case references to the ship Batavia or Batavia Stad in Flevoland). And don’t forget Google Alerts, so that you are always made aware of new mentions of your family name, for example
Take into account that in many Internet publications the sources are not included. So never just take data at face value, always try to check them against the archive sources.
Ask for personal record cards
If you have asked the family and you already know that something has been published about your family, that is then the moment to begin with real resource research. In this, it is advisable to follow the route back and begin with the period round the family’s departure from the East Indies.
Imagine that your grandmother was born in the Dutch East Indies but died in the Netherlands, then it is smart to begin by requesting personal record card. These and personal record lists from the Nationaal Register Overledenen (National Register of Deaths) give information about persons have died in the Netherlands after 1939. They do not contain all the data about the deceased person, but also do report when and where her parents were born in the Dutch East Indies. That could well have been in Batavia, Soerabaja, Bandoeng or Semarang – more than in 1930 one-third of all Europeans in the country lived in one of these towns or cities.
The National Register of Deaths is maintained by the CBG. When, for example, you know that a (deceased) family member was born in Batavia and died in the Netherlands, then you can apply for an extract from their personal record card or list. Incidentally, this also gives information about where the deceased lived in the Netherlands and the addresses at which they have lived since their arrival.
Get to know all you can about the war years and repatriation
Dutch East Indies Netherlanders who went to live in the Netherlands after the transfer of sovereignty (1949) had been through some very tumultuous times. Various sources and databases at the CBG and the National Archive can help you to gain some insight into the consequences that the last days of the colonial society had on the lives of your family, and into the traumas that many people suffered during that period.
The National Archive has an online database with Japanse interneringskaarten (Japanese internment cards) of Dutch prisoners of war covering the period 1942-1945. These can be searched by name. You can see scans of the cards online. The data that you can find on the cards certainly include military rank and the occupation of the person, the place of imprisonment, any sickness suffered and the handover to the allied authorities after the war.
Red Cross war archive
The Red Cross war archives contain documents about the war in Asia and now elates to 1.5 million people. The material consists, among other things, of camp administrations (a cartographic library), deportation lists and repatriation lists (boat lists). The post-war Search process for missing persons is documented in dossiers. The war archive is lodged with the Nationaal Archief (National Archive) in The Hague.
Old Passport Archive
You can also ask for data from the CBG-managed Oud-Paspoortarchief (Old Passport Archive) (1950-1959), that contains roughly 150,000 requests from the Dutch East Indies' Netherlanders for Dutch passports. In order to obtain a passport the applicant had to establish that he or she had the Dutch nationality and supply records of antecedents back to at least 1892 (the year in which the Netherlands Nationality Act came into force). The applications consist of a pre-printed card with information about the applicant and an attached passport photo or group photo. Included on the card are the date and place of birth, nationality, applicant’s occupation, any male or female spouse, children and parents. The card also included a description of the applicant and the reason for the request for a passport.
For reasons of privacy the cards in the Passport Archive are not freely accessible. Descendants can request genealogical data on the basis of the data at CBG opvragen CBG. There is a research tariff to be paid onderzoekstarief. Photocopies and scans are not supplied.
After Indonesia’s independence more than thirty thousand Netherlanders chose Indonesian citizenship. To be able to do so, they must declare a so-called ‘option statement’ before the end of 1951. Most of these regretted having made the move and wanted later to return to the Netherlands. These so-called spijtoptanten were given the opportunity to do so in the 1960s, when the Dutch government’s admission policy became less strict.
Lists of option statements were published in the Indonesian Official Gazette. The CBG has photocopies of the lists in this Gazette. The lists containing family name and first name of the person regretting the decision, place and date of birth, and place and date of the statement. The option statements are the property of the Ministry of Justice, but are lodged with the CBG. They also contain details of the parents and any male or female spouse, and children (minors) of the spijtoptanten. Both the lists and the statements themselves are not themselves publicly accessible, but the under certain circumstances the CBG can provide information on request. For this, contact email@example.com.
Moluccans to the Netherlands
When you are visiting Moluccan family members who came to the Netherlands in 1951, you then begin the database Molukkers naar Nederland (Moluccans to the Netherlands) of the National Archive. This contains the personal data of more than twelve thousand Moluccan servicemen and their family members who arrived in the Netherlands in twelve ships. The database can be searched by name. Data that you can come across includes full names, birth data, army number and rank (of the man), the place they occupied within the family (on arrival), the transport with which they travelled (including ship’s name) and a passport photo (if provided).’
Knowledge Centre Repatriation
The Indonesian Remembrance Centre works currently on the website Knowledge Centre Repatriation. The aim is to provide access at one central location to all passenger lists of Indo-European Netherlanders who left the Netherlands, so that an accessible search engine is created for everyone. The Knowledge Centre Repatriation is not yet online; you can find information on the website of Indisch Herinneringscentrum (Indo-European Memorial Centre). This centre works in collaboration with Herman van Oosten, on whose website you can find lists of ships and passenger lists from the period 1945-1964. Currently, not all the information that he has gathered about private citizens and military personnel who were transferred from the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea and Australia to the Netherlands is online.
Assimilation, applicability and naturalizations
The database relating to the Gelijkstellingen, toepasselijkverklaringen en naturalisaties Nederlands-Indië en Indonesië (Assimilation, Applicability and Naturalizations Dutch East Indies and Indonesia Act) contains data that relates to persons who, from 1870 were assimilated with Europeans in the Dutch East Indies. Included in this are the person's family or surname, forenames and place of domicile. On occasion the date of birth is also noted in the decision.
Furthermore, the website contains data relating to more than twenty thousand persons from the Dutch East Indies who after 1984 were granted Dutch citizenship. To be found of those who had been naturalized are the date and place of birth, their occupation and their place of domicile, generally also the reason for naturalization, and in some instances even a brief biography.
Search in Indo-European basic data sources
The first steps in the research into your Indo-European forbears are thus relatively simple. You can quickly get hold of the data that will bring you back into the Dutch East Indies. Once you have got there the research will, for all manner of reasons, be less simple.
??Hoort dit tekst niet op de voorgaande pagina? Identity card for the Dutch East Indies repatriated persons issued by the Central Bureau for the Care of Victims of War (C.B.V.O.), in this case in the name of Mrs Hendrika Hillegonda Botter-Gräber, born in Amsterdam. Last address in the Dutch East Indies was 'v. Bosschestr. 23. Padang'. Repatriated by 'Kota Inten'. The identity card was issued at sea on 13 May 1946. Also noted on the card is the amount of benefits paid to her and the clothing issued. Museon via Europeana.
The legal inequality between Europeans and non-Europeans created not only major societal demarcation, but also had great genealogical consequences. You will see this immediately when you want to carry out research into the burgerlijke stand civil registry of the Dutch East Indies. This was introduced in October 1828, but it related only to Europeans. There was - in other words - no administration for the registration of the births and deaths of the Asiatic population. If during your research you come across by what in the everyday language of the time was called an indigenous woman,’ then things become more complicated.
In the same way it s stated on the persoonskaart identity card of the Javan woman Lamira, who died in The Hague in 1959 only that she was born in ‘about March 1853’ in Soerabaja. The names of her parents are not shown on the card; she only used an abbreviated name. That is thus a challenge if you want to draw up a graphical family tree. But don’t give up too easily: there might be oral tradition, certainly from the female line, names, families, and/or place of origin to be found. Also these days, mitochondrial DNA analysis, so via the maternal line, might provide a rough indication (see, for this, our themadossier theme dossier). And sometimes there are certificates of baptism and/or marriage to be found in which Javan parents are mentioned.
There is just one more problem relating to the Dutch East Indies burgerlijke stand civil register: the original registers are not located here in the Netherlands, but in Indonesia. Fortunately that does not mean that there is no ‘primary data’ (basic data) to be found about births, marriages and deaths. What we do have here in the Netherlands are documents from the civil registry from a variety of sources. There is quite an amount of information to be discovered by combining data from different sources, such as almanacs, lists of names and address books, church records (BMD registers) and advertisements.
Records of births, marriages and deaths
Information from the burgerlijke stand civil registry in the Dutch East Indies were published in various official almanacs, lists of names and address books that are often jointly categorized as 'Indisch Almanac'. In the Indo-European Almanac, which was published annually between 1815 and 1942, you will find, among other things, the names and positions of persons who held a societal position in the colony. Changes in the civil registry were also noted annually in the Almanac.
The use of records from the burgerlijke stand civil registry in the Indo-European almanacs certainly comes with some issues:
- The data from the civil registry in the Indo-European Almanac is less extensive than the original certificates. For example, parents’ names are not recorded. In addition, the dates recorded do not also consist of the date on which the birth or death occurred but of the date on which these events were registered. Furthermore it is possible that, particularly in the early almanacs, the registration was of the date of baptism instead of the date of birth.
- The records that are in the Almanacs are not complete. Records can be missing because some registrars either failed to send them in on time to the compilers of the almanacs / lists of names / address books, or simply did not send them at all. It was also the case that the records relating to the last quarter of a year were missing, because, in the haste to have a publication ready for printing the compilers forgot to include them.
- The place of a birth, marriage or death was sometime incorrect. The records in the almanac, lists of names and address books are listed by residency and department. The burgerlijke stand civil registries were held in the principal ??cities / towns of the residencies and departments. As a result the places in the Almanac often relate to the registration, not the occurrence. That is sometimes apparent when you ask for an identity card persoonskaart or for details from the Old Passport Archive. You are then given a place of birth that differs from what is entered in the record of the civil registry.
- Not every (male) European was recorded on the list of inhabitants. The address books contain an overview of European inhabitants (men, widows and some unmarried women) of the Dutch East Indies, arranged alphabetically by family name. If, for example you find in the Name List of 1880 the birth of a child with the family name A in Padang, it is tempting to look if the list of inhabitants of Padang includes someone with the family name A, and, if that is the case, to see that person as the father of the child in question. You must be very careful about this, in view of the fact that the lists of inhabitants are incomplete. It was standard practice that military personnel were not included in these lists
Nonetheless, the records of the burgerlijke stand civil registry can also be very helpful. For example, you can sometimes find a complete family quite easily when at the same time a father officially recognized all his children and reported this fact to the civil registry. You know that they all belong to the same family – but not yet who the father was. When by other means you find out the name of one of the children, you can say with a great degree of certainty that the other recognized children were sons or daughters of his. However, there is a chance that they did have different mothers.
The CBG has published the Indo-European Almanac on a double DVD under the title Regerings-Almanak van Nederlandsch-Indië 1815-1942 Governmental Almanac of the Dutch East Indies 1815-1942. Unfortunately it is currently not available for consultation at the CBG, although it is at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek Royal Library in The Hague. Via the website Roosje Roos you can search by name for data from the Indisch Almanac (1815-1923). Parts of the Indo-European Almanac can be consulted online as a scan elsewhere.
Via the website Roosje Roos you can search by name for registrations of births, marriages and deaths from the Indo-European almanacs, address books and name lists of up to 1923. For the period after 1923 there are indexes of and data from the burgerlijke stand civil registry available from various places. The birth certificates are still unavailable because they are not older than 100 years old. You can find an actual state of the database on the website under Database inhoud Database content. If you wish to carry out Indo-European genealogical research, it is certainly worth visiting Roosje Roos.
In the 1980s the Mormons filmed the registers of the civil registry of the burgerlijke stand civil registry of the colonial time in the Arsip Nasional in Jakarta. You can request copies of these films via the catalogue of FamilySearch. You can then see the copies concerned in one of the Mormons’ Family History Centers. When searching, make sure that you type in the modern place names. Currently, FamilySearch (among others in collaboration with the Indo-European Genealogische Vereniging) Indo-European Genealogical Association is working on the digitalization of the registers of the Dutch East Indies civil registry.
You can also find data on birth, marriage and death in the collection of family announcements of the CBG in which you can search by name via CBG Verzamelingen CBG Collections. Announcements of births, marriages and deaths in the Dutch East Indies were also sometimes published in Dutch newspapers. Via Delpher, the digital newspaper archive of the Royal Library, you can also search in various Indo-European newspapers such as the Bataviaasch Handelsblad, the Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad and theJava-bode.
Dutch East Indies sources at the CBG
There are still countless other collections to be found containing details of births, marriages and deaths in East India. The CBG has an interesting collection of East Indian sources. Parts of this can be consulted independently online, and information can be requested from others. You can find an overview on the page Oost-Indische bronnen (East Indian sources).
Many Dutch East Indian families have Chinese origins. Research into these forbears is not always simple, but it is also not impossible.
Since the eighteenth century there were in South East Asia large and prosperous Chinese communities. However, in many countries the ethnic Chinese population were discriminated against. Many Chinese therefore fled Dutch East India to the Netherlands. Many of them were from the province that is now known as Fujian, where Hokkian was spoken. In East India their names were noted phonetically in the way they themselves spoke them, thus according to the Hokkian pronunciation (which is different from present-day Beijing Chinese).
When a new system of population administration was set up during thee Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies (1943-1945), the Chinese characters of names were also registered. Until that time the more or less autonomous Chinese communities themselves kept records of their births, marriages, divorces, funerals, judicial and tax matters. In 75 places on Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Bali the earlier-mentioned Mormons have had microfilms made of the Chinese dtb-registers BMD registers and lists of name changes between 1919-1945. These can be seen in one of the Family History Centers.
The archive of the former Chinese Council of Batavia (the Kong Koan) contains different demographic, economic, judicial and other data relating to the Chinese community in Batavia from the 18th to the 20th century. It contains documents and registrations of board meetings of the Kong Koan, marriages and divorces, deaths, wills and funerals, ‘permits to reside in the Dutch East Indies’, and financial matters, among other things. Many certificates are in Chinese, but there is also quite a large amount drawn up in Dutch. The archive can be seen via the website of the Leiden University’s library.
The further you go back, the more complicated it becomes. The colonial registration of the Chinese was not complete. For example, in East Indian VOC archives there is every so often mention of relationships or marriages of Dutch men with Chinese women, but their place of origin is not registered there. In the Government Almanac up to 1919 there are only records of Chinese who were ‘equated’ with Europeans. This was relatively rare and was in practice only requested by notables from the established families. If you are searching for the birthplace of a Chinese-Indian ancestor prior to 1919, your will actually be dependent on family documents.
For more information on Chinese-Indian research see part 7 of the Dutch-language series Voorouders van Verre: Chinese Roots by Kees Kuiken, which can be requested from the CBG-Bibliotheek CBG Library. There is also an interesting article about Chinese genealogical research in Dutch East India by Tjabring van Egten in Gen.magazine of December 2018. You can download this article at the bottom of this page.
Research into civil servants and soldiers
When you are carrying out research into your forebears, do not just make do with the ‘primary’ genealogical data; names, dates and places. You will want to know what these people did in their lives. Because almost all Indo-Europeans were in the service of the government, there is often information to be found about their situation.
The Indo-Europeans formed the backbone of the colonial system. They had jobs in the service of the government as office clerks, supervisors, non-commissioned officers, warehouse managers, and all manner of other things. Only a small minority was employed outside the government sector, as employees of trading companies, small shopkeepers, in mining companies, railway companies, and the like.
Thanks to so-called ‘lineage books’ it is often possible to follow the careers of Europeans in government service from the beginning to the end, to discover how much they were paid, and whether there was anything remarkable in their behaviour. The 'lineage books civil servants and Government’s Marine' have been made accessible via an index by family name and can be consulted in the reading room of the National Archive. The data in these lineage books are in some instances very extensive, and on the basis of them you can follow a career very closely, with transfers, leave in Europe, salary increases, gratuities, reprimands, all manner of things.
They are sometime much shorter, as in the case of Anna Jacoba Lefeber. She was born in Batavia in 1853 as the daughter of a European man and an Asian woman, and in 1875, at the age of 23, began work as an assistant teacher. Her short career can be followed in her lineage book: she first worked at the second public school in Semarang, two years later followed a transfer to Pasoeroean. Again one year later, in 1878, followed honourable discharge. This will have been because a year later she married a teacher, with whom she was later to settle in the Netherlands. In 1945 she died at the age of 95 years during the hunger winter in Amsterdam – as can be seen from her persoonskaart (identity card), which is held by the CBG. Her husband, who had achieved the role of directorship of the School Museum in Amsterdam, had died more than thirty years previously. You could ask yourself how her last years had been, so far from home. She and her husband did not have children.
The soldiers of the East Indian army, the later KNIL, also have lineage books saved in the National Archive. Just as the civil service, the army was an important employer for Europeans. They fulfilled the functions both of the officers and the majority of the non-commissioned officers. Between 1815 and 1991 no fewer than 150 thousand soldiers travelled from the Netherlands to to the East Indies; until 1895 they constituted more than the half of all the European men in the colony. They lived – generally unmarried – with an Asian woman in the residential quarters of the military encampments (tangsis), which were situated mostly in or near to the large towns. Most to the Indo-Europeans are descended from children that were born of these relationships. The lineage books of officers can be easily found via indexes on the National Archive website; read the zoekhulp search help Militairen: Officieren bij het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (KNIL) 1815-1950 Soldiers: Officers in the Royal Netherlands Indian Army (KNIL) 1815-1950 for all the information. There is also a similar zoekhulp (search help) for research in the lineage books of non-commissioned officers and soldiers (privates).
A lineage book registration contains the military service record of a soldier. So you will find details of his entering the service, transfers, promotions, battles fought, injuries, decorations and one of the three ways in which his service has ended: honourable discharge, pension or death. Places where the soldier was garrisoned is not recorded. In addition to the military service record the registration also contains a number of personal details, such as the soldier’s date and place of birth and the names of his parents. Names of wife and/or children are to be found only very occasionally.
There are still other sources from which you can learn more about the official and military life of your forebears. The earlier-mentioned Government Almanacs and address books often mention appointment dates. Furthermore, the CBG has a collection of pensioenkaarten (pension cards) of civil servants and military personnel who were in the active service of the government on 1 July 1898. In addition to the personal details of both the person in question and any family he might have, the pension cards also provide information about his career: appointments, salary, year of retirement, pension. This research cannot be carried out independently, but for a fee the CBG can carry out this onderzoek (research) in the collection.
Forebears in the time of the VOC
As has been said, most of the Europeans that lived in Indonesia in 1941 were directly descended from a man who had settled in the colony after 1870. Furthermore, we can also refer to a group of families that had lived in Indonesia since 1816 (the restoration of Dutch authority). An even smaller group of families had already planted their roots there before 1795, such as the families Senn van Basel, Barkeij, Burgemeestere, Dezentje, Fransz, Voll. If you have these ‘old East Indian families’ in your family tree, there is plenty of research for you to do. Your research will land you in the archives of the VOC, with the details of seafarers, artisans for the VOC establishments, soldiers, junior merchants, ministers, barber/surgeons, comforters of the sick, and many others.
Slightly less than half of those sailing with the VOC came from the Netherlands. Among the other half were especially Germans and Scandinavians, so there is quite a large chance that your research into the European parts of your family will not end in the Netherlands, but in Norway, France, or one of the German principalities.
On the National Archive website you will find several large databases that are of major genealogical importance. In the database VOC-opvarenden of the passengers and crew on board VOC ships you can find data from the VOC salary administration (the ships’ pay ledgers). In the database, which can be searched by name, you will find almost exclusively VOC personnel from the eighteenth century. By far the largest part of the older ships’ pay ledgers has been lost forever.
Another series in the VOC archive that is interesting to genealogists is that of the ‘Generale land- en zeemonsterrollen’ or General register of names of men signed on for land and sea service (1691-1791). This is an annual written statement of the entire land and sea personnel in the Dutch East Indies. The name of every man in service is recorded. All the establishments in Asia, but also the Cape, sent their register on to Batavia. These were then rewritten into a single general roll of service, which was retained as a so-called 'sleeper' in the VOC archive in Batavia. Six copies were made of this sleeper; these were intended for the six Chambers in the Republic. Only the rolls for the Chambers of Zeeland and Amsterdam were saved.
In addition, there are the rolls of the on board qualified civil and military personnel. Every year all the VOC establishments in Asia sent details of the company servants (from the rank of ‘young assistant’ to sergeant) to Batavia. There they were rewritten to form two separate statements and were sent to the Chambers in the Republic Again, only the rolls of the Chambers of Zeeland and Amsterdam were saved.
Explained in the zoekhulp VOC: Opvarenden (search help VOC: Passengers and Crew) how to carry our research into the salary administration of the VOC.
Lodged in the VOC archive in The Hague there is another important series for genealogists, namely eleven thousand bands with testaments from the period 1698-1807. These ‘East Indian testaments’ can be searched by name via an online database.
The greatest collection of VOC archives are not lodged in The Hague but in the Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia in Jakarta. That of prime importance is the archive of Castle Batavia, the Company’s headquarters (where within the fortress walls was, among other things, the residency of the governor-general). Part of this very important archive is now available online. Also of importance are the archives of the civil colleges of the council of Batavia. These bodies were not independent, but fell under the authority of the VOC. The archives tell us not only a great deal about the institutions, but also about the inhabitants of the city. The dossiers of the schepenbank (aldermen) and the weeskamer (board of orphanages) (1622-1885) in particular can offer a treasure trove of genealogical information. These archives have not yet been digitalized, whilst other important collections from a historical point of view, such as a large series of diplomatieke brieven diplomatic letters to Batavia, have already been digitalized.