Tracing archival events in the archive of the Hoge Regering
The method used to trace a pulse and archival events in the archives of the VOC
is grounded on two pillars. First, as mentioned, theoretically the whole archive
is covered via the realia. Second, the realia consist of chronologically listed
(references to) decisions on certain matters, so a "quiescence and quickened
pace" might be found around those decisions. At first glance, this is done easily:
by counting the number of references between a chosen timeframe per subject
heading. After all, a relative "thickening" in the use of a certain keyword can be
found in this way. Because of the resolution system this might correspond with
a relative "thickening" of underlying documents. This, however, can only be
discovered by further research on the documents found under the resolutions, as
a decision does not necessarily equal an event and not every decision will mirror
the same amount of underlying documents. However, decisions are preceded by
considerations. As decisions on a certain subject are taken in a quickened pace,
one can therefore assume that those 'considerations' followed more quickly too.
To trace archival events in the archive of the Hoge Regering I have used three
realia on the period 1737-1750.47 Two of those are concerned with the generale
resoluties and besognes combined. The other realia is on the secrete (secret)
resolutions of the board, which are kept only from 1740 onwards. Together,
the three realia give access to the generale resoluties, and the separate series of
besognes (from 1743 onwards) and secrete resoluties. In the realia on the general
resolutions and besognes 919 subject headings can be found.48 The secret
resolutions are disclosed with 102 subject headings, of which 25 are also used
in the realia on the general resolutions and besognes. Thus, no less than 944
unique subject headings were used in total. However, the keywords are not all
used in the same manner. Under half of the used words, not even one reference is
found.49 While some of them refer to other keywords, most of them are without
any further content (once again, this implies the usage of standard keyword lists
by the realist). Under the 'used' keywords, in total 4835 references can be found
to the years 1737-1750: 3375 to the general resolutions, 968 to besognes, and 492
to secret resolutions.50 Of the used keywords, 180 contain only one reference,
and 72 have two. One hundred eighty-two keywords are used more than five
times, 102 more than ten times, and 55 keywords contain more than twenty
references.51
By counting the references per quarter, it is possible to locate increases and
decreases in the usage of specific subject headings. The amount of references per
quarter can be seen as a chance variable on which the Poisson distribution might
be applied. Using this probability distribution, the probability of the occurrence
of a given amount of references per quarter can be calculated. In this, a quarter
is taken as a fixed interval in time and it is presumed that the probability of
the occurrence of one reference is equal in every quarter. The found number of
references in a quarter is then compared to the expected number of references
COLONIAL LEGACY IN SOUTH EAST ASIA -
THE DUTCH ARCHIVES
47 In search of the most usable copies, I looked at their completeness (subject headings running from 'A' to
'Z') and tried to find the copies that are the closest to a possible master copy. The selected realia are found
under inventory numbers 2188, 2197, and 2246 (ANRI, HR).
48 It should be noted that the used books are on the years 1721-1758, thus wider than 1737-1750.
49 419 (46%) keywords on the general resolutions and besognes are 'unused,' 51 (51%) on the secret
resolutions.
50 In the years 1743-1750 in total 3057 references are found: 2089 references are to the general resolutions,
968 to the besognes.
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