The manner in which the governor-general had to communicate with the Minister of Colonies was specified in many instructions. The Commissioners- General, who took over the administration from the British in 1816, were told that proper minutes had to be made of all meetings and that these minutes, including associated appendices, had to be periodically sent to The Hague. The governor-general was supposed to maintain uninterrupted correspondence with the Minister regarding all affairs that could be of interest.61 This correspondence was conducted in two different ways: the so-called official correspondence (which could be regular or confidential) with the ministry and the semi-private (or sometimes named as semi-official) correspondence between the governor- general and the Minister. This correspondence could be conducted without the involvement of civil servants of the Ministry. Furthermore a copy of all decisions taken by the governor-general also had to be sent to The Hague every three months. Later, new and different forms of communication were invented to improve the information, like the colonial report after 1848 and the mail-reports since 1869. One could say that the information network linking Batavia and The Hague was focused on making the East Indies society legible for the Dutch government. This 'making legible' was not just unlimited and aimless gathering of information, but rather a sophisticated process which determined in advance what information was required for what kind of purpose or government intervention. In this respect the many instructions are revealing. Although the network between the governor-general in Batavia and the Minister of Colonies formed the backbone of the colonial system, the value and the power of this backbone depended completely on the quality of its branches and the degree of penetration into the indigenous society. Repeatedly, the governor- general was urged not only to provide faster, but also more precise information to the Minister of Colonies and the King.62 Because the government in The Hague became more and more demanding, one of the main concerns of the early colonial administration in Batavia was to set up a stable and reliable information network between Batavia and the rest of the archipelago to be able to fulfil the information requirements of the Dutch government. Carel Siradus Willem van Hogendorp (1788-1856), resident of Buitenzorg and later resident of Batavia wrote about the effects of this insatiable hunger for information of the colonial government in the East Indies. The governors, residents, assistant residents and other employed officials 'conducted a large correspondence which resulted in a flood of lists and reports; because bureaucracy and the trend to blot paper with ink has gained ground like elsewhere'.63 His observation of a fast growing bureaucracy is also confirmed by the figures. The number of incoming letters that were registered in the agenda of the Algemene Secretarie increased from 512 in the month of December 1816 to 814 in the month of March 1819. CHARLES JEURGENS INFORMATION ON THE MOVE. COLONIAL ARCHIVES: PILLARS OF PAST GLOBAL INFORMATION EXCHANGE 62 For instance: Nationaal Archief, 2.01.01 Ministry of Colonies, 4188, verbaal dd 01 February 1826, no. 8K confidential; Nationaal Archief, 2.10.01 Ministry of Colonies, 4571, 10 Feb. 1826 La H. Nr 14K 63 Hogendorp, Beschouwingen der Nederlandsche bezittingen in Oost-Indie, 110-111. 57

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Jaarboeken Stichting Archiefpublicaties | 2012 | | pagina 59