Archives Management and Bureaucracy Development
The need for information management was crucial to the colonial government in
order to understand the society. The government realized this need by arranging
the collected information into an original archival system. Archives management
in this period used a system known as the verbaalstelsel, or chronologically
ordered archives, related to one decision and arranged not based on subject but
rather the date of the decisions.16 The verbaal series consists of a decision on a
particular date and number in a two-fold paper inserted with approved draft of
outgoing letters and incoming letters compiled together occasionally with other
relevant documents such as internal note, reports, or advice from other instituti
ons. This system was practised in The Netherlands since the beginning of the
nineteenth century and formalized by Royal Decree 4 September 1823 Nr. 7.
The process of archives management in the General Secretariat started with the
receiving of incoming letters and registration into an agenda. Some letters which
needed to be consulted by the Indies Council were brought into the meeting of
the High Government. Others were then distributed to the related division. The
process resulted into various series of documents described below.
The Besluit was a decision made by the Governor General alone which became
the most voluminous series and the most frequently requested type of document
since it contains information ranging from policy, reaction, or regulation
on various fields. It is also called besluiten Gouvernenur Generaal buiten Rade
(decision made without consultation with the Indies Council). The decisions
were divided into non-secret (openbaar) and secret (geheim). This series has
a register of the copied decisions titled register der handelingen en besluiten
van den Gouverneur General van Nederlandsch Indië. It was mentioned in
Regeringsreglement 1819 and Instructions for Indies Government in 1829 (Royal
Decree 16 May 1829 Nr. 7) that copies of interesting or important subjects
discussed in meetings were to be sent every three months to the Minister of
Colonies along with registers of decisions and related attachments so that
the central colonial government could understand the considerations behind
decisions which were being made by the Indies government or the Governor
The Resolutie was the decision made by the Hoge Regering, which consisted of the
Governor General and Indies Council. It is also known as besluiten Gouvernenur
Generaal in Rade (decision made by the Governor General with the Council).
The decisions were also divided into non-secret and secret. This series also has
registers as in the besluiten series, titled register der handelingen en resolutien der
Gouverneur Generaal Nederlandsch Indië. In the process of becoming a decision
(whether it was besluit or resolutie) there was a document called kommissoriaal
which was a form sent to ask advice from the Indies Council. This form was
completed with the incoming letter and other related documents, e.g. previous
decisions made concerning the case. The Council then wrote the advice in that
form and returned it to the General Secretariat.
There is also series Kabinetsmissive, letters which were handled by the Governor
General personally. This series mostly consist of concepts of letter from the
COLONIAL LEGACY IN SOUTH EAST ASIA -
THE DUTCH ARCHIVES
16 Hugenholtz, 'An East Indian Serial: Mailrapporten', 73.
17 Geschiedkundige Nota, 16.
18 Niel, Java's Northeast Coast 1740-1840334.