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The Archives of the Dutch East Indian Company (VOC)

The interest in the archives of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie - VOC) has grown steadily in recent years.

© Nationaal Archief, The Hague
Panoramic map of the bay of Nagasaki and the trading post Deshima

UNESCO, within the framework of the Memory of the World programme, now co-operates with VOC to make these archives more widely available. Attention focuses particularly on material remains from the period in which the VOC formed the largest commercial enterprise then operating in the world. Considerable interest has also been directed at the historiography of how different cultures interrelated. In many places the VOC's presence is seen increasingly to be a significant aspect of that country's history. The VOC is gradually losing its image as an organisation of pre-colonial domination. The tendency now is to incorporate the company as a seminal influence on the development of the country's identity and its historical self-image. 

UNESCO will co-operatewithin the framework of the Memory of the World in the project of making electronically accessible the VOC archives which represent a unique source of information about the 17th and 18th century history of many countries and cultures of Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The history of the East India Company is not merely that of a large Dutch business conglomerate symbolized by many architectural monuments such as warehouses, meeting halls or ship wharves. The records of this Company deal with its operations in Asia, and thus shed considerable light on Asian history as well. The aim of the project is safeguarding the extensive material heritage this trading company has left behind in the Netherlands and Asia, and how this mutual heritage can made be accessible and available for further use.

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