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Papua: a history

Time period: 1920-2004
Number of interviews: 36
Accessibility: public
Period of interviews: 2000-2004

The collection will be public and accessible during 2023. The collection can then only be accessed in the reading room or listened to online via a protected environment (password required).
The files cannot be downloaded.


The interviews were conducted as part of Dirk Vlasblom’s publication Papua: a history. This book covers five centuries of Papua’s history, focusing on the period from 1945 onwards and with a special focus on the transfer from the Netherlands to Indonesia in 1962. The book focuses on the perspective of Papuans.

The interviews focus on events and experiences in the years 1920 – 2004.
They mainly discuss Indonesia and West Papua. Themes include World War II, Indonesian revolution, transfer to Indonesia in 1962, occupation.


The collection has been digitised and stored permanently at an e-depot.

Papoea: Een geschiedenis

Vlasblom, D. 

University Press, Amsterdam, 2004

ISBN 90-5330-399-5
9 789053-303993

Dirk Vlasblom (1952) studied cultural anthropology in Utrecht. With a brief interruption, he has been a correspondent for NRC Handelsblad in Jakarta since 1990. He previously published Jakarta, Jakarta – Reportages from Indonesia (1993), In a warung on the South Sea – Stories from Indonesia (1998) and Anchors & Chains – A Rotterdam Chronicle (2001).
In a compelling way, the author tells the stories of Papua. For this, he drew on unique sources. Protagonists and eyewitnesses speak for themselves, often for the first time. The archives of mission and mission were systematically researched for this book, also for the first time.
With this magisterial work, the author gives the Papuans their history.

Interview collection West-Papua

Yernaux poseert met een jonge man van de Marind-anim, ca. 1922
Missionarissen van het Heilige Hart / Pater J. Boelaars
Time period: 1950-1990
Number of interviews: 23
Accessibility: restricted public
Transcripts: (partly) available
Period of interviews: probably 1980


If interested, the Heritage Centre Dutch Monastic Life can request permission to view from Missionaries of the Sacred Heart after which the interviews can be listened to in the reading room.

Medium: cassette tapes

Erfgoedcentrum Nederlands Kloosterleven has been collecting and managing archives of over 100 monastic communities since 2006, including the archives of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The interviews were conducted as part of the series Together with Papuans on the Way (18 interviews) and Conversations with Gurus or Family Members (5 interviews) in West Papua. Interviewer Fr J. Boelaars was in charge of pastoral care and scientific research for the benefit of mission work. Between 1950 and 1990, he worked for several extended periods in Indonesia and West Papua.


The interviews led to the publication Met Papuas samen op weg: Part 3 the companions and were used for the treatise Witnesses Speak: church history of the archdiocese of Merauke, Irian Jaya, Indonesia (ca 1999) by J. Boelaars in collaboration with A. Vriens.


Themes include Dutch administration, Indonesian administration, the Vatican Council, discrimination, schooling, spiritual life, daily activities, adat, pastoral policy, missionary development.


List available with names of interviewees at Erfgoedcentrum Nederlands Kloosterleven

Relevant links: Website Erfgoedcentrum Nederlands Kloosterleven:

Treatise Witness Speaking: Verhandeling Getuigen spreken


Met Papoea’s samen op weg

Boelaars, J. 
Uitgeversmaatschappij J.H. Kok – Kampen 

Deel 1 De pioniers. Het begin van een missie, 1992

Deel 2 De baanbrekers. Het openleggen van het binnenland, 1995

Deel 3 De begeleiders, 1997