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.

Herensia (Heritage)
Bòi Antoin
Time period: 1900 - now
Number of interviews: 1206
Accessibility: Partly
Transcripts: Unknown
Period of interviews: Unknown

Journalist and author Boi Antoin has built up an extensive collection of Bonairean cultural heritage on Bonaire in recent years. Oral history has been recorded primarily through the program “Herensia” (Heritage). Many of these recordings are online.


Interviews have been conducted in Papiamentu. Dutch interviews were conducted in the collection Makambanan na Boneiru (Dutch on Bonaire). More information about the various collections recorded by Bòi Antoin can be found here.



Makambanan na Boneiru (Dutch on Bonaire)
Bòi Antoin
Time period: 1950 - now
Number of interviews: 22
Accessibility: Online
Transcripts: Unknown
Period of interviews: Unknown

Journalist and author Bòi Antoin has built an extensive collection of Bonairean cultural heritage on Bonaire in recent years. Makambanan na Boneiru (Dutch on Bonaire) is a small portion, 22 recordings, of the entire oral history collection that Bòi Antoin has built on Bonaire.


The interviews can be viewed online.

Museum Maluku interview project

Moluccan residence Villa Elzenpasch

Moluks Historisch Museum (het huidige Museum Maluku)
Time period: 1930-2008
Number of interviews: 10
Accessibility: restricted public
Transcripts: no
Period of interviews: 2002-2008


Database/inventory: List of names of interviewees available
Sound carrier: DV tapes converted to digital video files (AVI)


The interviews can be listened to by appointment at Museum Maluku, located in Museum Sophiahof. (Requests) can be sent to:


Moluccans in the Netherlands

The interview project was conducted as part of the presentation and disclosure of collections. The purpose of the interviews was to capture stories for the renewed permanent exhibition starting in 2008.


The interviews focus on events and experiences in the years 1930 – 2008.
They mainly discuss the Netherlands, Indonesia and the Moluccas. Themes include KNIL, military police, residential areas Zeeland, residential area Elzenpasch, women’s emancipation, Moluccan church, management of residential areas.


Interviewers: Jeanny Vreeswijk-Manusiwa and Nanneke Wigard.

Moluccans in the Netherlands various

Moluks Historisch Museum (currently Museum Maluku)
Time period: 1930-2006
Number of interviews: 6
Accessibility: restricted public
Period of interviews: 1990, 2001-2006

Archive numbers: AVD0207 through AVD0212

The interviews are not yet unlocked. The interviews are
available to listen to by appointment at Museum Maluku, located in Museum Sophiahof. The AVD issues can be listened to digitally. (Questions and requests can be sent to:

Medium: Minidiscs converted to digital audio files (WAV)

Museum Maluku has several interviews in its collection collected for various reasons.
The interviews discuss events and experiences in the years 1930 – 2006.
They are mainly about the Netherlands, Groningen and Indonesia, the Moluccas. Themes include camp elders, Carel Coenraadpolder (CC polder), Commission Rechtspositie Ambonese Militairen en Schepelingen (CRAMS), Dutch Royal Navy.

For the men

Productiehuis De Chinezen / Xavier Taveirne
Time period: 1940-1995
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 2018

Xavier Taveirne talks to the first generations of men who dared to come out as gay in Flanders. It is a moving and often disconcerting series with stories of love, struggle and pain, and the taboo of being gay in less tolerant times.


In three episodes, older gay men tell their stories uncensored. Important stories and often conversations in which they do not shy away from thorny current issues.

Three-part documentary “Voor de mannen”


Episode 1: 1940-1970
The first episode features gay men growing up in post-war Catholic Flanders. Sex was taboo for everyone, and if homosexuality was mentioned at all, people talked about ‘jeanets’. The church was also very repressive.

Xavier sought out Paul Rademaekers, now 98, who still gets angry when he thinks back to those times: “I have always said: homosexuality is not a sexual problem, but a social problem. I started with difficult cards. But even with difficult cards, you have to try to make as many assets as possible. My assets were that I always stood up for others, especially gay people.”

The first turning point came only in 1970, when Will Ferdy became the first well-known Fleming to speak on television about his “being different”. It was a shock for Flanders. Will received many negative reactions, but his courageous testimony did mark the very beginning of gay emancipation.


Episode 2: 1970-1980
The wild 1970s were also the years of sexual liberation and social change for the gay community.

Although gays – especially in rural areas – still often continued to lead a hidden life, thriving subcultures emerged in the cities with gay bars and nightclubs where anything was possible. A debauched life that everyone today thinks back to with nostalgia.

Xavier also talks to Chille De Man and Guido Totté. Guido first took to the streets with the Trotskyist Rooie Vlinder to enforce equal rights for gays and straights. An early precursor to Pride, which Chille later organised for the first time in Brussels.


Episode 3: 1980-1995
For the gay community, the 1980s were overshadowed by the rise of a new, deadly disease: AIDS.

In this episode, gay men recount the havoc wreaked by the AIDS virus. It took years before the first medication was available, and in that time many gay men became infected. Only a few of them are still alive today. One of them is Patrick Reyntiens. Xavier talks to him about those black years, when all gay people were once again fingered. “AIDS was God’s punishment for the homosexuals’ rampant behaviour”, and AIDS patients were the new plague sufferers.

Xavier also talks to Rob Scheers, who was active in the first prevention campaigns, yet later became infected himself through risky behaviour.

We, women

Time period: 1960-present
Number of interviews: 18
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 2022

The struggle for equal status and representation of women and men in Flanders is more than a century old. Great strides have been made, but we are not there yet. Using testimonies and archive footage, the four-part series ‘We, women’ outlines the evolution of the position of women in our society, both privately and in public life.


How have wrong expectations, upbringing, glass ceilings, discrimination, pressure, prejudice or other obstacles made it difficult for women to develop to their full potential in recent decades? For example, in the areas of upbringing, education, marriage, family, sexuality, work and politics. How have they dealt with this? What have action groups, politicians and individual women been able to change? And how do women experience all these obstacles today?


In ‘We, women’, women of all ages and walks of life tell their stories, together with politicians, figureheads of the women’s movement and former ‘Dolle Mina’s’. Their testimonies are illustrated with punishing archive footage. These are at times disconcerting and at other times funny stories about being brought up as a housekeeper, fighting to be allowed to study, the conquest of men’s professions, sexual taboos and men who still think they know better. The four episodes focus successively on sexuality, marriage and family, professional life and politics.


We, women’ uses the tried and tested formula of Children of…: the entire historical and current story is told by committed witnesses who look the viewer straight in the eye.

A surprising look behind the scenes of the struggle for women’s rights. Often stunning archive material that not least puts the sexism of our own public broadcaster on display. And eighteen women who draw you into their stories and leave you with deep respect.

The episodes

Videos can be viewed if you are logged in and have confirmed your Belgian residence or identity


S1 | Afl.1

In charge of your own body

Battle for sexual freedom, from taboo on monthlies to Metoo


S1 | Afl.2

Women must know their place

For decades, women have been brought up to be obedient to men.


S1 | Afl.3

Welcome to the world of men

For a long time, education prepared girls mainly for the household.



S1 | Afl.4

Women in power

Women organised, resisted and conquered their place

Below is an overview of the 18 witnesses – or participants in Canvas’ documentary We, Women – arranged by age.


  • Victoire Van Nuffel (1937): cycling champion and bar owner, openly lesbian at a time when that was anything but obvious.
  • Nelly Maes (1941): politician who fought against sexism in politics and campaigned for women’s rights.
  • Gerlinda Swillen (1942): Dutch teacher and VUB researcher, militant for equal pay for equal work.
  • Ida Dequeeker (1943): emancipation official at VDAB, co-founded the Dolle Mina movement in Flanders and participated in the influential Vrouwen Overleg Komitee.
  • Lieve Flour (1944): administrative assistant in the construction sector, grew up in a stifling traditional environment and overcame a humiliating marriage.
  • Josette Franckson (1946): worker FN Herstal, involved in the legendary women’s strike at that factory in 1966.
  • Margot Roggen (1948): administrative assistant in the insurance sector, often had to fight against male privilege and even overt discrimination as a child and later during her studies and at work.
  • Marie Jeanne Declerq (1950): police commissioner, made a career in the male bastion of the Judicial Police.
  • Liliane Versluys (1951): lawyer and visual artist, engaged in the Leuven refuge and published the controversial book Your Rights as a Woman (1987).
  • Moniek Darge (1952): composer, was active in Dolle Mina and founded Vrouwen Tegen Verkrachting.
  • Kati Couck (1954): ABVV staff member, active with Dolle Mina, founded abortion centre Kollektief Anticonceptie, started Vluchthuis Gent and organised self-defence courses for women.
  • Linda Van Crombruggen (1960): former complaints coordinator VRT, testifies about sexism and sexual harassment in her own home.
  • Khadija Zamouri (1967): politician, distanced herself from her conservative Moroccan Islamic milieu, became politically active with Open VLD, went to work on cabinets and became a Brussels MP.
  • Leyla Yüksel (1971): became a gynaecologist with the full support of her parents and, in her own words, was more bothered by sexism among white doctors than Turkish patriarchs.
  • Wendy Van den Heuvel (1978): administrative clerk and author, her mother was abused by her father. Recently, two male colleagues ambushed her on a dating site and shared her intimate photos. She left the company, but her experience inspired her to write a book.
  • Pinar Akbas (1980): has mixed feelings about her Turkish upbringing, went to college and temporarily entered politics, is currently a nurse and published her autobiography Niran and me this year.
  • Heleen Struyven (1988): worked as a lawyer at reputable firms, but noticed that sexism still exists there too. Yet she kept going for it… until she crashed.
  • Romy Schlimbach (1995): was bullied for her looks in childhood, experienced an eating disorder, an admission and severe depression, but today she is a plus-size model and influencer: body positivity is the alternative she promotes to the stifling beauty ideal.

Coal pits

Productiehuis De Chinezen
Time period: 1900-1992
Number of interviews: 13
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 2022

In Coal Pits, a number of carefully selected ex-miners dig deep into their memories, where they have stored a wealth of colourful stories about the mine. In juicy and plastic fashion, they tell moving, funny and exciting anecdotes about the dangerous and unhealthy work ‘in the pit’, about daily life in the cités, about the struggle for social rights, the arrival of the ‘guest workers’ and about the rise and fall of heavy industry in Limburg.


The series mainly lets workers have their say: men (and women) who grew up in poverty, usually had not studied and hoped for a better future by working in the pit.

Their stories form the basis of the series and are complemented by historical film material from various archives and atmospheric images of the still-existing industrial architecture and the original miners’ committees of the time.

The series is timely. Not only because it is 30 years since the last Limburg coal mine, that of Heusden-Zolder, was closed. But also because the generation that can still tell the story of the mines from their own experience is disappearing. This is shown, among other things, by the unfortunate fact that four of the 13 key witnesses have died since the filming.


Most of the witnesses are in their 70s and 80s, some even well into their 90s. These are the names:

Agostino Mele – 83 years old
Franco Mirisola – 69 years old
Ismail Erdogdu – 72 years old
Jan Kocur (+) – 79 years
Jean De Schutter – 76 years
Jean Peeters – 69 years
Louis Snoeks (+) – 91 years
Mai Van Houdt – 82 years
Mil Coenen – 63 years
Rocco Berterame (+) – 95 years
Sandrettin Koçak – 80 years
Sophie Gruszowski – 76 years
Stephan Bratus (+) – 96 years

The episodes
Three episodes cover the many facets of underground life, a fourth deals with life above ground and the fifth outlines the story of the closure of the mines.

Episode 1 – Underground
In the first episode, the coal miners take us into the mysterious world underground. In smells and colours, they recount their work and habits among the stones and dust.

Episode 2 – On life and death
In the second episode, the coal pits highlight the dangers of working in the mines. They reminisce about exciting moments and tricky situations that fortunately usually ended well for them. Although that was not the case for everyone.

Episode 3 – The promised land
There was a shortage of hands in the mines. Workers were therefore recruited from other countries. This third episode tells about the experiences of the newcomers in our country and sketches the multicoloured camaraderie underground.

Episode 4 – The cité
In the fourth episode, the coal pits take us to the cité. After all, the mine was much more than the dark corridors underground. Family life above ground was also completely controlled and organised by the mine, in districts and neighbourhoods where the miners lived together.

Episode 5 – The closure
The final episode looks back at the closure of the mines in Limburg. The coal miners recall the actions and strikes they undertook and outline the feeling they still struggle with to this day.

Oral History broadcasting history

Sound and Vision
Time period: 1919-1993
Number of interviews: 141
Period of interviews: 1978-1993


Interviews with broadcasting pioneers about their role in the history of Dutch radio and TV. As the programme makers are now considerably elderly, this is a last chance for Het Omroepmuseum (the predecessor of The Institute of Sound and Vision) to record their stories for posterity. Thus a special form of “oral history” relating to the early years of broadcasting was created between 1978 and 1993.

The interviews are available in the archive of Sound and Vision, SOUND AND VISION. An overview with descriptions of the content of the interviews from the catalogue can be READ HERE.


Interviews by Harrie Vossen, Jan van Herpen, Gerard van Beek, P.M. Bakker, Stef Lokin, Heinz Joosten, Cor van Driel, L. van der Linden, Arend Woudsma, Marnix Koolhaas.



Eyewitnesses of the 20th century

Stichting OOGgetuigen van de 20ste eeuw /Kees Slager
Time period: 1900-2000
Number of interviews: 816
Accessibility: openbaar
Period of interviews: 2000-2004

Te beluisteren in de Bibliotheek van Zeeland


OOGgetuigen van de 20ste eeuw


The memories of just about two thousand (older) Zeeuwen have been recorded on tape. A cross-section of the population, from high to low on the social ladder, cooperated in the interview project Eyewitnesses of the 20th century.

The interviews recorded through the project are on CD and have been collected in the Zeeland Library and can be listened to there. In this way, a lot of information is available about professions, some of which have disappeared, important events of the 20th century, leisure activities and developments in ten villages.

Most of the interviews were recorded on Walcheren and in Zeelandic Flanders.


A selection from the collection of 816 interviews in the sound bank:


  • Primary education – 22 interviews
  • Beurtvaart – 19 interviews
  • Forced labour – 31 interviews
  • Immigration – 10 interviews
  • Children’s broadcasting – 21 interviews
  • Recreation – 8 interviews
  • Roman Catholic Church – 10 interviews
  • Ferry service – 6 interviews
  • Flax – 8 interviews
  • Flood disaster – 197 interviews
  • South Moluccans – 19 interviews

Kees Slager wrote several books based on oral history:

Landarbeiders (1981), hertiteld tot Armoede treedt binnen, levensverhalen van landarbeiders

auteur: Kees Slager

ISBN: 9789076815206


This book tells the story of an occupational group that is now extinct but for centuries formed the largest in the Netherlands: the agricultural workers. Poorly paid and treated by farmers, they traditionally stumbled behind the rear ranks of the proletariat. Until – in the 1950s – machines began to take over their work. Barely 20 years later, they had become redundant and there was hardly a farm worker left.


De ramp, een reconstructie, 1992

auteur: Kees Slager

ISBN: 9789046707968

(op basis van interviews met ruim 200 mensen)


What happened on the night of 31 January to 1 February 1953, when large parts of our country flooded as a result of an unprecedented spring tide.

On the night of 31 January to 1 February 1953, the Netherlands was hit by one of the biggest natural disasters in its history. A spring tide combined with a severe north-westerly storm flooded Zeeland and parts of North Brabant and South Holland. 1,836 people and tens of thousands of animals drowned, 4,500 houses and buildings were destroyed and 200,000 hectares of land were flooded. Kees Slager did extensive research in archives and spoke to over 250 eyewitnesses for The Disaster. The result is a gripping and revealing account of what happened hour by hour and place by place during those fateful days in the winter of 1953.


Zeven Zeeuwse vrouwen, 1995

auteur: Kees Slager

ISBN: 9789072138491


In this book, seven women from Zeeland, ranging in age from seventy to eighty, tell the story of their own lives in a penetrating way.

They are all very ordinary women; most of them grew up in families of labourers and middlemen and none of them attended secondary school. But they are women to whom life has not passed unnoticed. They have been scarred and sometimes bruised by it, but they have not succumbed to it. Most have become strong and militant because of it. They have dared to tell the many emotional and harrowing, but sometimes joyful and endearing moments of their lives honestly and openly. As a result, these ‘ordinary’ women grow into extraordinary women in their self-portraits.



Visser verhalen over hun leven in de delta, 1990

auteur: Kees Slager, Paul de Schipper

ISBN: 9789072138088

(op basis van interviews met 60 vissers)


This book is about the fishermen of the south-western Delta region in the first half of the last century. About the men who tried to earn a living on the Oosterschelde and Westerschelde, Grevelingen, Hollands Diep and on the coastal waters of the North Sea with their longboats and studs, their blowers and lemmer yachts. Sailing, they were hunting for shrimp and flatfish, oyster spawn and mussel seed. But also about their wives who worked in mussel sheds and oyster pits, lugging heavy baskets of fish and also spending many lonely hours at home.



En m’n zuster die heet Kee

Author: Kees Slager
Publisher: Boer, Den / De Ruiter
ISBN: 9789079875351


This book contains thirty-three self-portraits of the last Borsel farmer’s wives, women who spent their lives wearing the beautiful regional costume.They not only tell about lace hats and golden earrings, but with their life stories they give an insight into the position of women in the Zeeland countryside in the first half of the 20th century. This is a book of harsh stories about poverty and hard work in the fields or in the household, about marrying early and having children quickly. Stories of a time and a region without water supply, electricity and cars, a time of cycling and walking along muddy polder roads and windy dykes to school and work. This is also a book of happy tales of old-fashioned villages full of shops and conviviality, of the feast of the annual fair and summer evenings on the dyke with knitting and chatting neighbours. Thirty-three life stories. Not spectacular perhaps, but warmly human, engaging and poignant. ‘An impressive portrait of peasant life on South Beveland in the first half of the last century. An exemplary book’ (PZC)