c. What was preserved
Research into the way private organisations valued, appraised and selected
documents is scarce. Secretaries and other leaders did not put their opinions
on paper. The practice of selection lists summing up what had to be kept and
what to be destroyed does not seem to have existed in Protestant missionary
organisations. Congregations and bishops could fall back on the three very
general criteria already mentioned but preservation depended on the personal
attitude of bishops and archivists. I can only give some impressions based on
research done by my two colleagues and myself in the many mission archives
we investigated. It seems that religious congregations of nuns had the feminine
inclination to 'clean' the archive regularly and that as a result the archives of
this category of congregations are generally smaller than the archives formed by
their male counterparts. Moreover, some nuns told us that they had not enough
time to write down what they had seen and done, as the work load was immense.
Furthermore the nuns until recently were generally far less educated than their
male colleagues. A priest received twelve years of education in humanities and
was taught to write and to speak in public.48 More research, however, is needed
in this aspect of archival policy. The archives that were formed overseas were
sometimes sent to patria but that does not seem to have been a general rule.
Many documents overseas were lost by war, natural disasters, the devouring
tropical climate and hungry insects, most of the archives formed in the
Netherlands survived the Second World War and furthermore natural disasters
like fires have been relatively rare.49
d. Who was in charge of the archive?
The secretary was responsible for the archive. In 1921 the conference of
missionaries of the Nederlandsch Zendelinggenootschap Dutch Missionary Society
of 1797) in East Java decided that brother Wiegers would be responsible for the
archive, the agenda of the future conferences and the correspondence.50 The
statute of the conference of missionaries of the same society in North Sumatra
attributed the responsibility for the archive to the conference's secretary.51
As the archive became more voluminous the responsibility for the 'historical'
archive could be transferred to an archivist. Father Ambrosius van der Stam (died
2006) of the Capuchin Friars not only kept the archive of the Dutch province
but he also made an excellent inventory.52 The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
of Jesus built a safe for the archive shortly after 1900 and appointed father
John de Lepper as archivist in 1946. He was followed up by other members of
the congregation.53 The general council of the Dominican order stimulated
the development of affection for the order's history from 1850 onwards. The
Dutch province instituted the office of archivarius et chronicarius in 1872 which
had to keep the archive and to write its history. Most interest, however, was
COLONIAL LEGACY IN SOUTH EAST ASIA -
THE DUTCH ARCHIVES
48 With the exception of sisters who were trained to teach at schools.
49 It is to be noticed that the Netherlands were not involved in any war between 1813 and 1940.
50 Archief Nederlandsch Zendelinggenootschap, inv. nr. 826, conference d.d. 6 September 1921.
51 Archief Nederlandsch Zendelinggenootschap, inv. nr. 1017.
52 Repertorium Nederlandse zendings- en missiearchieven 1800-1960 [Research Guide Missionary Archives],
Huygens Institute of the History of the Netherlands, was published digitally in December 2011.