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Valuable VOC information source being prepared for Internet access

Mega project covers 650,000 employees

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LEIDEN, the Netherlands – Data processors will be busy over the next few years adding the information of all seagoing employees of the United East Indies Company (VOC) to one huge database. When completed, the system is expected to hold key information on 650,000 employees. The database will be accessible through the Internet and is part of a mega project, “Uitgevaren voor de Kamers van de VOC” (Embarked for the Chambers of the VOC). It can be found at

Transcribed muster rolls of the VOC online particularly will enhance genealogical and historical research. The benefit to family researchers is very obvious. To anyone wishing to draw a general composite of segments of the Dutch East Indies society will have new tools available to study; for example the extent in which the VOC relied on manpower from Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and even Switzerland and other Baltic states.

The Netherlands, with a population of less than two million people in the seventeenth century, became a world power and long maintained a significant colonial empire, enlisting manpower wherever it could be found.

Organizationally, the VOC consisted of a number of local chambers; each was represented on the board of directors through a weighted system. The archives of the Zeeland chamber, along with the small ones of Delft, Rotterdam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen, already are transcribed and accessible on the Internet. The Amsterdam Chamber information covers 325,000 sailors and soldiers and spans well over a century.

The data includes employment information such as origin, job status aboard, earnings, advances paid, and the name of designated heirs for any settlement of debts and benefits.

The VOC was founded in 1602 under a special charter granted by the States General. The multinational giant collapsed under its own weight and was taken over by the States General in 1798.