Project: ‘Embracing diversity’

Project: ‘Embracing diversity’: Experiences of first-generation Dutch-Moroccan and Dutch-Turkish students at the VU


VU University Amsterdam is known as a diverse university, and many students have a ‘non-western’ background. But the backgrounds of this diversity and the experiences of those involved have hardly been researched from a historical perspective. This oral history project focuses on experiences of Dutch-Moroccan and Dutch-Turkish first-generation students at the VU from the 1980s onwards.


The project will start in September 2022. First-generation students will be interviewed about the reasons why they started studying at the VU, their experiences with fellow students, staff, the diversity policy at the VU, and changing attitudes towards Islam at the university and in the Netherlands. The interviews will take place in January 2023 as part of the ‘Oral History and Biography’ course for history students. Students will conduct the interviews here under supervision. Moreover, the interviews will be permanently stored for reuse in cooperation with DANS and the University Archive/Stadsarchief Amsterdam.


The project will be led by Norah Karrouche, associate professor at the VU University of Amsterdam and specialised, among other things, in the (memory) culture of North African communities in Europe; and Ab Flipse, university historian at the VU University of Amsterdam. It is supported by third-year history student and student assistant Oumayma Akachaou Achaffay.


The project is made possible by Clue+: Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History and Heritage and takes place in collaboration with several other VU centres, such as the Decolonisation LAB, the HDC Centre for Religious History, and the Stevin Centre for History of Science and Humanities.


More information about this project? Interested in participating in the project? Contact student assistant Oumayma.

Oral history keeps Cold War stories and heritage alive

A nice project by the Cultural Heritage Agency on using oral history in Cold War heritage.


The National Cultural Heritage Agency wants to increase knowledge about this period in order to preserve this fragile heritage for the next generation. To this end, the RCE partnered with the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam, among others. Students did their graduation research on the Cold War and received help from experts. Britt van der Kolk and Bloeme van Bennekom were two of those students. Britt: “We were both studying Cultural Heritage and saw a call from the RCE whether we wanted to write a thesis on the Cold War. We were keen to participate in that.


Oral sources as substantiation & inspiration

“You’re reminiscing with someone and you don’t just go down a questionnaire. You mainly let them speak for themselves. As a result, it felt more like a conversation than a huge interview,” Bloeme says. It also gave both of them new insights, Britt says: “Books mainly say that the Cold War was a period of fear. In my interviews, on the contrary, a sober picture emerged. The people I spoke to were not afraid at all. That gave me a completely different perspective.” Oral history also changed Bloeme’s image: “Because communism was all about equality and equal rights, I had the idea that women were much more in charge. But most women I talked to told me that this was not the case at all and there was very little talk of feminism. In the 1980s, this did start to change.”


You can read more information and why this programme fits well with the Faro Treaty here.


The people behind the Namenmonument | The latest book by Selma Leydesdorff



De mensen achter het Namenmonument | Het joodse proletariaat van Amsterdam | 1900-1940 en de werken van G.J. Staller


In 1987, We lived as human beings: The Jewish proletariat of Amsterdam 1900-1940. In it, professor Selma Leydesdorff uses interviews to paint a picture of pre-war Jewish life in Amsterdam. We lived as human beings also appeared in English and German and received a lot of international attention. The People Behind the Names Monument is the revised edition
of this work. It is graced with paintings by G.J. Staller (collected and selected by Harry Mock} showing Jewish street life between 1900 and 1930 and giving a face to the people – beggars, market vendors and peddlers.


The stuffiness of the Jodenhoek with its dark streets is palpable; you can almost hear the raucous cries of the hawkers with their wares, all-important is the smell of poverty. In The People Behind the Names Monument, the names on the recently opened war memorial on Amsterdam’s Wibautstraat now also get a face.


About the author:
Selma Leydesdorff is a historian and professor emeritus at the University of Amsterdam. She is internationally known as a prominent researcher and theorist in the field of oral history. Her work Oral history: The people and their stories {2021) has been nominated for the Prize for the Most Important Book of the Year. Harry Mock chairs the Jewish Virtual Museum: an art collection relating to Jewish life in Amsterdam between 1900 and 1940.


Selma Leydesdorff’s latest book will be published on 30-11-2022, and can be reserved in advance via


Interviewers wanted for residents of Benedenstad

For a history project after the summer, the Oral History Working Group of Numaga and the Regional Archives Nijmegen are looking for people with a heart for the history of Nijmegen. People who would like to know more about the history of the lower town and about the history of the people who live there. 


Oral History

For the project, we want to interview residents of the lower town. People who have lived there all their lives. We want to know how they have experienced the changes that have taken place since the Second World War. By interviewing residents, we also add their stories to the history, which until now has mainly been coloured by the perspective of the municipality and its officials. The interviews will be recorded in de Verhalenbank van het Regionaal Archief Nijmegen.


We offer an introductory evening interview/oral history in cooperation with Erfgoed Gelderland on 14 September at 19:30 in the Regionaal Archief Nijmegen (Mariënburg 27). The final interviews will take place in early October. Exact date to be determined in consultation with interviewer and interviewee.



Do you like this idea? Or do you have any questions? Please contact the chairman of Numaga’s Oral History Working Group, Paul van der Flier at or 06-27581492. Also if you would like to be interviewed: please contact us!


Photo credit: three residents of the Ottengas in front of the door (1930-1935), photo collection Regionaal Archief Nijmegen, Public Domain. Background: a cut-out of the ”S.O.S. plan”.

Open Hour SSH: live Q&A every Monday

Get answers to all your questions at the Open Hour for the SGW community. A live Q&A every Monday.


Join us for the weekly Open Hour from 10:00 to 11:00 (CEST) for the Social Sciences and Humanities community. The Open Hour is a live Q&A about Open Science, data storage and Research Data Management, among other things.


Which data can I deposit with DANS?
How do I make my data FAIR?
Can I share data that contains personal data?
Which metadata standards should I use?
How do I store video data in a sustainable way?
All these questions and more can be asked live during the Open Hour. Our Data Station Managers are ready for you.


Register for the Open Hour here and submit your question(s).

New initiative: the Dutch Muslim Archive

Since this week, our country has an Islamic archive institution: the Netherlands Muslim Archive. It is an initiative that not only wants to preserve heritage, but also create more awareness of the cultural contribution of Muslims and Islam.


The memory of Dutch Muslims

The mission of the Netherlands Muslim Archive is to give the cultural and religious heritage of Dutch Muslims and the history shared with other Dutch citizens a place in the collective memory of the Netherlands. The cultural and religious heritage of Dutch Muslims means all cultural and religious expressions of Muslims from different Muslim communities that carry meaning and tell a story. By giving this heritage and the shared history a proper place in the Netherlands, we contribute to a more inclusive society, where everyone belongs regardless of cultural and philosophical background.


We do this firstly by collecting or mapping out the material heritage of Dutch Muslims, such as valuable documents, artefacts or mosques. Secondly, by collecting and preserving intangible heritage, such as (oral) stories and memories from and about Dutch Muslims. Stories that humanise, that show the person behind ‘the Dutch Muslim’ in all his diversity. 


In addition, the Netherlands Muslim Archive is a cultural-educational centre, which is a meeting place and makes this shared history and culture accessible and recognisable for a wider audience, both young and old.


You can read more about this initiative on the NMA website or read the interesting interview here with co-founders Kamel Essabane and Nafiye Aydogdu, also about the importance of oral history.


Vacancy: researcher Inventory of Oral History Collections of the Dutch East Indies – NIOD-KNAW

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has a vacancy for a Researcher Inventory Oral History Collections Indian Community – NIOD-KNAW. More information and application via link

Call! Women searched on class photo

Women’s stories 1920-1960

For a project about women from Boekel in the 1920s and 1960s, Martha van Eerdt is looking for women who recognise themselves in the class photo from 1964/1965.


“I grew up in a Catholic village and in my time there were still separate boys’ and girls’ schools. By chance, I was sent a class photo with the story of a classmate who lost her mother when she was in my class. Now neither of us lives in Boekel, as our village is called. We realised how different our lives are from those of our mothers. My mother lived through the advent of water and electricity (and also the internet). Women of her generation had to stop working when they married. Boekel is a farming village, there was only one school, and our hypothesis is that by digging up the stories of our mothers we can get a picture of how ordinary women from Boekel lived in the 20s and 60s of the last century and what their dreams were. We want to keep their history alive by discussing it with their grandchildren, women (and men) of today”.


Are you on the photo or do you recognise someone?

Stories are collected by interviewing classmates from that time. On the photo are 40 girls who were in the fifth and sixth grade in 1964-1965. Are you on the photo yourself or do you recognise someone on the photo? If so, please contact Martha via

Project Freedom as theme

What is Freedom for you?

On Thursday, May 19, the kick-off took place of the project ‘Freedom as a theme’ with ten young people from the Stagehuis Schilderswijk together with adult (ex) refugees at “Kwetu bij ons” in The Hague. The coming period they will work together on digital presentations on the meaning of freedom.


This first meeting was all about getting to know each other. First, a colour game was played. Then the young people interviewed the adults, participants, teachers and project staff. They were given three questions to choose from for the interview.  


1.    Tell a beautiful childhood memory

2.    Name a situation in which you felt very unfree

3.    What does freedom mean to you?


What would you do?

This resulted in very nice conversations, which made the youngsters feel like they were diving right into the lives of the interviewees.

After the break, they all watched some video fragments from oral history interviews with veterans, refugees and people who experienced World War II. “What would you do if you had to sign a statement that you would not do anything against the Germans?” This question produced nuanced answers. Especially because the man in the interview clip decided to sign so that he could later do something against the Germans.


Digital presentations 

During the next three meetings, all participants work in three mixed groups to create digital presentations. They can choose from three different techniques: smartphone art based on photos, stop-motion technique and working with film, text and sound. Teachers Ruben van Gogh, Farah Rahman and the duo Frank von Meijenfeldt & Iman Sohail show how to use different apps. But the most important thing is of course the imagination. How do you show what freedom means to people of the past and to yourself?


Exhibition at Sound and Vision in The Hague

The bar is set high, because based on the digital presentations a digital exposition will be made that will be shown at Sound & Vision in The Hague. The dates are still to be announced.

Faro platform Oral history online!

On the Faro platform , everyone involved with cultural heritage can discuss and contribute to the realisation of the Faro implementation agenda. An agenda with which we make proposals on how to translate the Faro Convention (Council of Europe) into concrete action in the Netherlands. Think about subjects such as heritage participation, accessibility and polyphony.


The research and all discussions within the heritage field revealed the importance of stories and oral history as a democratic and multi-voiced method. The ambitions for the implementation agenda are therefore in line with the goals of the Oral History Node – ‘Speaking History’. We have formulated three ambitions to which people can respond and add:


  • Recognition of the added value of oral history in the heritage field.
  • A place for exchanging knowledge and experiences, for stimulating and inspiring oral history initiatives.
  • Improving opportunities to secure oral history collections and make them retrievable and accessible.


We would like to hear your reactions and ideas. What do you think of these ambitions and how could they be put into practice? Leave a comment and help us build the Implementation Agenda for Faro. This ambition document is offered to the State Secretary of Culture as part of the signing and implementation of the Faro Treaty. 


Go directly to the topic Oral history on the platform and join the discussion. Once you have registered you can join in. See you on the platform!