The VOC archives: The records of the Dutch East India Company

Three VOC ships fighting Cambodian troops in Phnom Penh in 1664 (© Wikipedia)

Over 400 years ago, in 1602, the Dutch East India Company was set up with trading posts all over the world, and it grew into the first and biggest multinational commercial enterprise of its time. The Dutch called it “De Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie”, the VOC, and its business was documented in great detail.

Today, 25 million pages of 17th and 18th century world history remain covering almost 5 kilometers of shelf space both in Europe and the tropics. In our present digital age, these books will now finally be brought together in a huge database, allowing a new generation of young Asian and African historians to study their past from their own perspective. This way the archives will be preserved and interpreted for posterity.

Producer: Liesbeth de Bakker

Broadcast: July 19, 2002