other leading men and women, kept an eye on 'their' archives and did their
best to keep out lower ranked members and certainly outsiders. The directors of
the Nederlandsch Zendelinggenootschap only received a printed extract from the
minutes and were prohibited to publish parts of it. If the organisation needed
a book written on its history because a jubilee year was approaching, members
or other insiders were asked to write it.61 There was no need of a scholarly
historiography because the leading men and women preferred a home made
historiography and participation of outsiders was not considered in the interest
of the organisation. This attitude changed when the tide reversed after World
War II. The missionary movement gradually gave place to development aid and
the number of missionaries declined. Indigenous clergy were ready to
take over. This made room for a more distant historiography which developed
after 1980 62Sources were edited and the Institute of Netherlands History
began a research guide. Archives were transferred to public depositories and
Another function of the archives was always to keep the supporters up to date.
It was instrumental in getting donations and inspiring youngsters to serve
in the mission. The information, however, was selective. Strong or deviant
opinions, problems, serious discussions in the board and bad results were kept
from the public..
We may assume that not everything researchers would like to know was archived,
in fact the archivists appraised the documents regularly. Unfortunately, however,
we do not know enough about the archiving and appraisal procedures. More
research on this topic is necessary but it is time consuming. Another subject that
awaits future research is the analysis of the language of the missions. Detailed
analysis of texts in these archives, supported by new ICT-technologies, might
enable us to make an X-ray of these papers and get a better understanding of the
public relations policy of missionary organisations. This also applies to visual
material, missionary organisations archives are teeming with pictures, maps and
movies. The language of the image is a neglected subject that asks for more and
deeper research supported by new technologies.63
Most missionary archives have been cared for and kept for a long time. The main
motive was their instrumental value to the owner. Archives enabled missionaries
to study their own history, build up an identity and to define their position.
Professional historiography is taking over this field, however, and the archives
are becoming more accessible. This opens new doors to future research based on
themes such as gender and mission, the economics of the mission, the position
of mission within the history of European expansion and the consequences of
internal strife in the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk for the missionary work. In the
last decades Dutch society has become secular. Christianity is now a religious
minority in the Netherlands and more and more people do not understand its
TON KAPPELHOF ARCHIVES OF DUTCH DHRISTIAN MISSIONARY ORGANISATIONS AND MISSIONARIES
INFORMATION POWER - FROM HAGIOGRAPHY TO HISTORIOGRAPHY
60 NA, 'Statistieke aanteekeningen', entry number 220.127.116.11, inv. no's 87-887.
61 Monteiro, Gods Predikers, 25.
62 Monteiro, Gods Predikers, 23-26.
63 Tops, Foto's met gezag.