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Prominent Gelderlanders


Prominent Gelderlanders

5 digitised interviews

Gelderland Heritage


Investigating whether and how the collection can be archived and made public

Interviews with striking Gelderlanders

Mien van der Meulen-Nulle
(The Hague, 17 March 1884 – Winterswijk, 8 January 1982)

Louisa Wilhelmina (Mien) van der Meulen-Nulle was a Dutch teacher of lace technology and director of the Royal Dutch Lace School in The Hague.

Nulle studied useful handicrafts at the Industrieschool voor Meisjes in The Hague. She came into contact with lace through books. She received additional lessons from Elisabeth Manhave, a former pupil of the lace school in Sluis. In 1903, she taught at the Lace School, then based in Apeldoorn. At the age of 22, she became headmistress of the lace school in 1906 when it moved to The Hague. She was given access to an attached studio. She designed the cradle cover for Princess Juliana in 1909. On the occasion of a parade in Leiden depicting the entry of Frederik Hendrik in 1629, she designed several 17th-century lace based on paintings in 1910. It earned several awards.


Louis Frequin
(Arnhem, 29 July 1914 – Berg en Dal, 13 October 1998)

Interview on 11 August 1976 (tape 1 missing – interview 28 April 1976)

Louis Hendrik Antonius (Louis) Frequin was a Dutch journalist, author and resistance fighter. Louis Frequin was married and had eight children, the oldest of whom, Willibrord Frequin, is the best known.

Louis Frequin was Roman Catholic and had worked in journalism since 1930. Former editor-in-chief of the Gelderlander and the Nieuwe Krant.


Herman Martinus Oldenhof
(Apeldoorn, 17 September 1899 – Ede, 11 April 1985)

Interviewer J.P. Gansenbrink, 21 July 1977

Oldenhof was a Dutch mayor. He was a member of the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP). Oldenhof was mayor of the municipalities of Lopik, Jaarsveld and Willige Langerak from 1929 to 1936. He then served as mayor of Kampen from 1936 to 1942 and from 1945 to 1952.

Oldenhof left for the municipality of Ede, where he was mayor until 1962. Under his administration, the municipality grew from 47,656 to 60,162 inhabitants and much was invested in new education and infrastructure. In 1962, he became deputy of the province of Gelderland. He continued to live in Ede, though. Here he died in 1985 at the age of 85 in retirement home De Klinkenberg.



Jan Taminiau
(1 April 1903 – 17 July 1993)

Interviewer G. J. Mentink, 16 October 1975

Taminiau was director of the Gelderland fruit processing company Taminiau Elst Overbetuwe (TEO)


Jan Hendrik de Groot
(Alkmaar 13 March 1901 – Zeist 1 December 1990)

Jan H. de Groot was a poet, journalist in Arnhem.

In 1948, he became editor of Het Vrije Volk in Arnhem and from 1950 until his retirement in 1966, he was press chief of the AKU in Arnhem. From 1950 to 1962, he was secretary and treasurer of the Dutch branch of the international authors’ association PEN.

STUK, a history 1977-2015

Stuk, een gechiedenis

Marleen Brock

Publisher Hannibal, 2015


In spring 2015, STUK celebrated. For 37.5 years, the Leuven arts centre has been at the artistic forefront. A book (STUK, a history 1977-2015; Hannibal Publishing House) and an exhibition (Was it now ‘t Stuc, STUC or STUK?; STUK Expozaal) underlined this contrarian anniversary. At the same time, the historical retrospection served to pause for a moment and look back, only to choose a new future as the House for Dance, Sound and Vision. Yet such a radical change of direction is by no means unique in historical perspective. Reinventing itself is in the DNA of the organisation, as a logical consequence of the constant search for artistic renewal.


In this smoothly written book, cultural historian Marleen Brock (KU Leuven) tells the story of 37.5 years of STUK – not a nicely rounded anniversary, but as contrary as the arts centre itself. Amusing anecdotes and quotes from interviews with key figures, photos, posters and documents bring the rich history to life.

Crisscrossing through Frimangron

Sranang Oso, Hubert Hermelijn - 21PHO-250

Kriskras door Frimangron
Cynthia McLeod, S. Prantl, Judith Steinmeier

KIT Publishers, 2003

ISBN: 9789068325379

The Frimangron district borders the centre of Paramaribo. It is the city’s first working-class neighbourhood, created after the first slaves were freed. Kriskras door Frimangron takes you on a walk through this historic district. In between, you can read background stories about the streets and houses you encounter afterwards. The stories in this book form the history of Frimangon and also paint a picture of Surinamese society then and now. These personal testimonies and orally transmitted tories (stories) have never been written down before. It would be a shame if they were lost, because the stories bring the neighbourhood to life.

Hindustani contract workers 1873-1920

Hindostaanse immigranten, Théodore van Lelyveld, Paramaribo, 1895-1898 - Beeld Rijksmuseum

Prof Chan E.S. Choenni has chronicled the history of Hindustani contract workers. Not only through extensive literature review and archival research, Choenni also gives an insight into the lives of the contract workers through oral history. For instance, he gives a vivid picture of recruitment and selection in India, transport to the port city of Calcutta/Kolkata and the journey overseas. He also describes the arrival in Suriname and the daily life of the contract workers on the plantations.

Sarnami Hindostani 1920-1960

Sarnami Hindostani 1920–1960: Worteling, identiteit en gemeenschapsvorming in Suriname, volume 1.

Gharietje G. Choenni & Chan E.S. Choenni

Amsterdam: KIT Publishers, 2012

The Lalla Rookh Diaspora Foundation published this book in order to rectify deficiencies in knowledge of the history of the Surinamese Hindustanis (East Indians). 

The book’s introductory chapter deals with the departure of the Hindustanis from India, their life on the plantations, their numerical growth, their progress between 1920 and 1960, and the development of Sarnámi (a linguistic variation of Hindi). A chapter entitled “Settling and taking root” then relates the developments that took place after the contract period, when the Hindustanis created small villages of their own near their rice fields. The hardships of agricultural life are delineated as well as the diligence and perseverance of the settlers. The next chapter is devoted to transport, recounting how after some time many Hindustanis became active as wagoners, truck drivers, and bus drivers. The fourth chapter deals with the differentiation that took place when the children of the paddy farmers became entrepreneurs and craftsmen and later also government officials.

Chapter 5 is about housing. It paints the development from the plantation barracks to the simple dwellings in the villages and finally to the magnificent city houses of Paramaribo. It also describes the medical care the Hindustanis received. Chapter 6 discusses developments in education. Here attention is paid to the deterioration of the position of women in the third generation in Suriname. The setback was halted when later generations of women became better educated. This chapter also addresses the position of homosexual men and lesbians. The last chapter, which focuses on family life, paints the development of the joint family as well as its disappearance after the World War II and discusses Hindustani clothing, jewels, tattoos, food, and identity markers.

These seven chapters alternate with literary portrayals of seven elderly persons, a number of whom now live in the Netherlands, who reminisce about their lives in Suriname in the past.

Eighty in-depth interviews with elderly Hindustanis living both in Suriname and in the Netherlands form the main source of this book. The data they provide are subsequently checked in other (mostly written) sources. A reasonable number of Hindustanis say, for example, that the East Indians never asked for help from governmental social security, but the archives of these institutions prove that this is an exaggeration (pp. 16–17). So, the oral information is not blindly accepted, but critically evaluated. Choenni and Choenni call their method triangulation, which means that they have tried to get a reliable image of the situation by consulting various kinds of sources. Therefore this study fits the recent trend among historians of giving attention to oral history as an important addition to the written sources composed mainly by the writing elite and by the people governing the country. One could say that oral history is the history of the oppressed, which certainly is something that pops up in the material of this book. It is full of stories about the hardships people suffered in India even before their transportation to the Caribbean, the oppression on the plantations, the poverty and lack of medical care in the first years on the plantations and in the new settlements, and the discrimination against Hindustanis by the other population groups of the country.

In spite of the book’s merits, its sloppy writing style causes many inaccuracies. For example, the authors write that Columbus discovered Suriname (p. 37), which is untrue. Or again, there are many spelling errors or strangely written Dutch words, such as Hinduïsme instead of hindoeïsme. Other errors could have been prevented if the necessary academic literature had been consulted; people with the title maharaj are said to be chattri’s (p. 645), while in reality they are Brahmans (Clarke 1967:178–80). And a description of the development of the Hindu literary tradition (p. 434) is colored by the views of some Hindu religious experts, but deviates from the findings of authoritative research on the subject. These errors reflect a failure to engage academic fields outside of the social sciences.

Lands of Freedom

Deep in the Amazon rainforest of South America, reside a small community of Africans, whose ancestors escaped from slavery hundreds of years ago. They went on roving raids to liberate their brothers and sisters, and fought with the colonial army for their right to exist in peace.
They are the known as the Matawai Maroons.
This is their story.

Photo from Edward C. Green papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution (box 3)

The Amazon Conservation Team en de Matawai gemeenschap



With the awareness that the history and memory of slavery still continue to play a structuring role in multicultural societies today, and largely constitute the matrix of racial injustices which still victimize Africans and their descendants throughout the world, in 1994 UNESCO decided to launch the project  The Slave Route: resistance, freedom, heritage . The initial objective of this multidisciplinary project was to “break the silence” on the tragedy of trafficking and slavery in the world, by casting light on their scale, their root causes, their challenges and their modalities of operation. The project aimed to highlight more concretely the global transformations and cultural interactions resulting from these constrained interactions, to promote scientific research on this theme, and to preserve the tangible and intangible cultural heritage associated with it.
Today the project focuses its efforts on delivering a new narrative that moves the gaze from the slavers to the “slaves” themselves. Indeed, until now, the methods of writing history have mainly focused on exploring the archives and traces left by slavers. Historians faced the paradoxical task of writing an objective history about the reality of the condition of millions of men and women who had been thrown into the violence of slavery, but only from the perspective of the executioner, through an understanding of his narration, and administrative and juridical context. Now, we are carrying out an ethical reversal, which in fact invites a new epistemology: namely, that of reinscribing in the writing of the history of slavery a strangely silent voice, that of these very men and women who have suffered from, but also resisted, this system which reduced them to the condition of “movable property”.


This new narrative, currently under development, is constructed from “new” materials, or better said, materials which had until recently held little interest for a certain historiographical tradition. Until now, the few recorded biographical accounts in existence have served as the primary support for this endeavor; but, the main material, which are the oral archives (testimonies, tales, songs, expressions, etc.) are still largely under-developed despite some promising work on subjects such as the formation of the Maroons.
Facing very similar ethical and epistemological issues in the 1960s in the process of rewriting African history from the perspective of Africans themselves, the Scientific Committee of the General History of Africa (composed of eminent historians such as Joseph Kizerbo or Cheick Anta Diop), or even the pioneering work of Jan Vansina, had largely cleared the ground by exposing the shortcomings of a Eurocentric methodological conception. The notion of archive had to be “decolonized”. This titanic work, which called for the rehabilitation of oral sources, prompted UNESCO to create two centers for the collection and processing of oral tradition, in West Africa (Niger) with the CELHTO (Center for the Linguistic and Historical Study by oral tradition), and in Central Africa (Cameroon) with CERDOTOLA (Regional Center for Research and Documentation on Oral Traditions and for the Development of African Languages).

The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is taking action to help the Matawai safeguard their intangible cultural heritage. Since 2015, ACT has been partnering with the Matawai civil society organization Stichting voor Dorpsontwikkeling Matawai to use a participatory methodology training young Matawai to record and interview their elders about Matawai oral history.


To date, the initiative has produced more than 17 hours of footage of more than 150 historically significant sites along the Saramacca River.

34 elders from villages across Matawai were interviewed at length, with as many points of view represented as possible.


Photo credit: Amazon Conservation Team



The Historical Vision of an African American People

Richard Price


The University of Chicago Press

First-Time is an extraordinary collection of oral testimonies about the lives of eighteenth-century Saramakas, Afro-American maroons who escaped from slavery and settled in the tropical rain forest of Suriname. Proverbs, songs, prayers, genealogical nuggets, and contemporary engravings are woven into a fascinating interpretation of past events. They contain moving evocations of daily life two centuries ago — battles and love stories, political rivalries and ritual celebrations. And in the hands of the world’s foremost authority on maroon societies, they become a key to understanding the most striking aspect of modern Saramaka life: a people’s consciousness of living within history, shaped by the deeds of their ancestors and shaping the lives of their own descendants.


Half of each page in First-Time is devoted to direct transcriptions of the words of individual Saramakas, pieced together to reveal the order and coherence of their historiography. Price’s commentaries placing the Saramaka accounts into broader social, intellectual, and historical contexts appear directly below the translations. His unique presentation not only preserves the integrity of both oral and documentary historical accounts but also unites them in a meditation on the role of history in modern life.


“With a fine eye for detail, a scholar’s touch, and a sense of compassion, Price offers us a double account of Saramaka history. He gained the confidence and friendship of living Saramakas, and they offered him their most secret and powerful memories. Thus we are allowed to witness, as closely as anyone shall, slaves escaping, surviving, and forging a new sense of themselves in a harsh environment. To this vivid account Price juxtaposes the Western historical view. By preserving in writing now-flagging oral memories, Price serves both the Western and the Saramaka communities. Distant figures become our companions and distant events our concern in this fresh and distinctive book.”
–Stephen Gudeman, University of Minnesota


First-Time is evidence of the fact that acute political and epistemological self-consciousness need not lead to ethnographic self-absorption, or to the conclusion that it is impossible to know anything certain about other people. Rather, it leads to a concrete sense of why a Saramaka folktale … teaches that ‘knowledge is power, and that one must never reveal all of what one knows.'”
–James Clifford, in Writing Culture

Living with water in Gelderland, past and present

Oral history stories about historical water management

Leven met water


Living with water and drought is not only an issue today but also in the past. What did you do as a farmer if the Slinge flooded? How did estates ensure sufficient water in canals and ponds? How did a copper mill work? What was water management like in the past and today?

Farmers, estate owners, (retired) employees, dike wardens, water board heirs, water millers and stream volunteers told their stories.

Map Tour oral history Living with water:

Since 2016, volunteers from the Oral History Working Group Gelderland have been recording life stories about historical water management in order to make the work of the water authorities (past and present) visible. All kinds of people have been interviewed: a laundry owner, volunteers who maintain streams and springs, estate owners, farmers, millers, people who experienced dike breaches up close. How did they live with water?

This is a special project because these stories have been recorded province-wide for the first time.
All the stories can be read via a map tour on the website of Landschapsbeheer Gelderland.

Notable Bommelaars

With fifty notable Bommelaars fifty years back in time

In the past fifty years Zaltbommel has grown from a sleepy little town on the river Waal into a modern city in the middle of the country. In this book well-known Bommelaars tell how life has changed in Zaltbommel. 

Former general practitioner and writer Paul van Dijk has chronicled the history of half a century of Zaltbommel on the basis of fifty interviews. Notable inhabitants of Zaltbommel tell about the recent history of the church, art, education, the police, the housing market, politics, the multicultural society and about their love for their city. 


On the basis of these stories, discover how a city changes and how we continue to write history together, even today. 


The notable Bommelaars have been portrayed by photographer André Dieterman. The book therefore not only gives you a special picture of the recent past of Zaltbommel, but because of the beautiful photographs it is also a unique reading and viewing book that should not be missing on any reading table.