Operation Open Heart

Article in De Utrechtse Internet Courant (DUIC) – 9/7/2018


Sixty key players have their say on one of the largest and most complicated building projects in Utrecht. The book Twenty years of building the Utrecht railway station area by Ed van Eeden gives a striking insight into the development of the Utrecht railway station area. From Corio to the Jaarbeurs and from architects to civil servants, everyone is covered. This results in a number of controversial stories.

Ed van Eeden

Human memory can sometimes be fallible

In 2002, Utrecht held its first consultative referendum on the future of the Utrecht railway station area. Never before had the people of Utrecht been so directly involved in a subject as then. The City Council accepted the result and then began a tough process of planning and contracting. Meanwhile, time did not stand still. Nowadays, anyone who visits Utrecht can’t help but marvel at the total makeover of the city centre.

Operation Open Heart. Twenty Years of Building the Utrecht Station Area looks back at that time and reveals the dynamic decision-making process that lay behind the changes. Residents, architects, investors, politicians, civil servants and even a former resident of the former junk tunnel under Hoog Catharijne are interviewed. They all speak candidly and explain, from their own perspective, how the station area has fared.


Until 1956, the Civil Code stipulated that married women were ‘incapable of acting’ – a legal category that also applied to children and what they called ‘retarded persons’.


Madeleijn van den Nieuwenhuizen

Legal historian and Fulbright PhD candidate at the City University of New York

Legal incapacity meant, among other things, that as a woman you could not open a bank account, take out a mortgage or insurance, and that you could only conclude an employment contract with the formal consent of your husband. Technically, you also had to pay your salary to your husband, because he was the owner of the community of property in which you were married.


In case of divorce – very unusual – the children automatically went to the husband. In the 1950s, an average of 95% of the women married and thus became ‘legally incapable’. This generation, they are the over-80s of today.

Corry Tendeloo, PvdA-politician in 1956

The gentlemen are apparently all afraid


The aim of this project is to collect as many first-hand experiences as possible, which tell something about the experiences with and consequences of legal incapacity of Dutch women before 1956.


The interviews will be accurately registered in a dataset, and subsequently processed in a widely accessible publication that maps the history of legal incapacity, and its abolishment, as well as reflecting on the role of this history in the labour position of women in the present.


The dataset will also be donated to Atria, knowledge institute for emancipation and women’s history in Amsterdam, so that it can serve as source material for other, future research.



Tales from the Civil Orphanage

Amsterdam Museum
Laura van Hasselt
2009 t/m half September 2018

The Amsterdam Museum is housed in the special building on the Kalverstraat where the orphanage was located between 1578 and 1960. The museum is interested in the stories of Amsterdammers who themselves lived in the orphanage.


Verhalen uit het Burgerweeshuis

Story of Putten

Story of Putten brings the history of Putten, together with the local community, to the attention in an accessible and sustainable way.

You will find the Canon of Putten and other historical stories here. Personal memories. Bicycle and walking routes. Digital exhibitions. And much more.

Landscape management Flevoland

The vision of the settlers and first inhabitants on the landscape and nature of our special province has not been recorded before. Reason enough for Landschapsbeheer Flevoland to turn this into a special volunteer project.


One of the results of this Oral History project is the publication of a book with interview fragments. What did the reclaimed seabed look like? What was the first thing to grow? When and how did animals come to the new land? What is it like to farm on newly drained seabed and what did the young landscape look like? 


As a resident of The Hague, you are part of the city’s history. That is why the Historical Museum of The Hague tells the story of the city together with you. Not only our collection of paintings and objects are important in this respect, but everyday objects also play a part. Think for instance of a pin of your walking club in The Hague or an old cash book of your grandfather’s hat shop. It is important that the objects tell a story about The Hague.

Flevoland’ memory

Flevolands Memory is full of fascinating stories about the youngest province in the Netherlands.

On the website Flevolandsgeheugen.nl you can read personal stories about the Zuiderzee, the reclamation and life on the new land.
But also about the first stores or the first Sinterklaas parade in the young cities of Almere and Lelystad and the time when Urk was still an island.

Official opening of the road Emmeloord - Urk. First cars on their way to Urk, 1948 (photo by J.U. Potuyt, collection Management of the Wieringermeer).

Storia de nhas Pais

Podcast about the oral history project Storia de nhas Pais (‘The land of my parents’) initiated by Stichting Rotterdam Vertelt (SRV) and the study of the project by Leiden researchers from Night Spaces: Culture, Migration and Integration in Europe (NITE).




Project leader

Davidson Rodrigues








In 2014, young Cape Verdean Rotterdammers conducted interviews with Cape Verdeans who had arrived in the city between 1955 and 1975 and had built an existence there.

In 2021, Maxime Schut, a student of International Studies at Leiden University, studied six interviews from 2014. She also interviewed seven Cape Verdean interviewers on why it was important for them to participate in the project. Thus, a collection of interviews was formed on image and sound, transcribed and sometimes translated.

With the podcast, attention is drawn to this collection and to the history of Cape Verdeans in Rotterdam, but also to the importance of preserving these kinds of stories for future generations.


010nu – First generation Cape Verdeans tell story to Rotterdam Vertelt

Voices of a new era

From September 2021, a new era will begin! In the SRV-Wagen you will make a journey through time from the reconstruction period to the future and back again to the present.


Eleven municipalities in the Achterhoek have joined forces for a joint project that will draw attention to the region’s exceptional heritage from the reconstruction period.


It will be a project in which the stories and the spirit of the times are central, but where a bridge is also built to the challenges of today. Social support, quality of life and participation, and of course sustainability and energy transition are the starting points.



Witnesses & Contemporaries

This project is being carried out by: Fridus Steijlen, Eveline Buchheim and Stephanie Welvaart.

getuigen en tijdgenoten

Within the research programme Independence, decolonisation, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950, the project Witnesses & Contemporaries focuses on collecting the experiences of those involved in the Netherlands, Indonesia and other countries. The Witnesses & Contemporaries project wants to build a bridge between the people who experienced the period between 1945 and 1950 in Indonesia and the researchers.