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Historical ecology of the Limburg Kempen

Bijdrage tot de historische ecologie van de Limburgse Kempen (1910-1950) : tweehonderd gesprekken samengevat

Uitgever: Stichting Natuurpublicaties Limburg
ISBN: 9789074508087

In the Belgian-Limburg Kempen region, Joël Burny asked older residents about how they interacted with their landscape in the first half of the 20th century. His research shows that traditional insights often do not hold true for this specific area. The new insights should provide more guidance in determining the current form of management, which should be based much more on historically accurate references.


The book is a summary of a large series of interviews conducted with 96 elderly residents in the Belgian-Limburg Kempen region. These interviews covered the traditional use of heathland and stream valley grasslands, providing a picture of how the landscape functioned in the early 20th century. This is the period before the mechanisation of agriculture and before the large-scale use of nitrogen-rich manure.

The interviews revealed details of the historical use of the landscape that would otherwise have been lost. These include work done by farmers in the first half of the 20th century related to watercourses, stream valley grasslands, liquid meadows, dry and wet heaths and fish ponds.

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.

We Have Lived as Human Beings

This publication by Meulenhoff concerns the text of a dissertation for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Letters at the University of Amsterdam, on 8 May 1987.


Number of interviews: 42 (+ unknown number of anonymous interviewees) 

The source material is a large number of cassette tapes.

In 2022 / 2023, the tapes will be digitised by Pieter Bas van Wiechen

Transcriptions: yes

Accessibility: unknown


Geheugen, getuigen en herinneren

voorbeelden uit een onderzoek naar het amsterdamse joodse proletariaat tussen 1918 en 1940
Selma Leydesdorff

Part of: Mondelinge geschiedenis : over theorie en praktijk van het gebruik van mondelinge bronnen
Red.: Manuela du Bois-Reymond en Ton Wagemakers

pages 80-100



The book concerns the text with accompanying 16 pages of illustrations of a dissertation for the University of Amsterdam. The work also includes a summary in English. For this thesis, the historian Selma Leydesdorff derived data from archives, but especially from interviews with many who in their youth were part of the Jewish proletariat she researched. The author’s intention is to arrive at a better view of ‘that which is no more’. However, some of the ninety interviewees only wanted to speak if their words would not be recorded on the spot with recording equipment or put in writing; their words were thus of necessity elaborated afterwards. In her research, the author includes Jewish culture, the Jewish economy, the attachment of those involved to their Jewish roots, their organisations and the history of the Jewish streets and neighbourhoods in Amsterdam.


In 1987, We lived as human beings: Amsterdam’s Jewish proletariat 1900-1940 in words and images. 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 Jewish Proletariat of Amsterdam 1900-1940 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 hawkers with their wares, all-important is the smell of poverty.


With The Jewish Proletariat of Amsterdam 1900-1940, the names of the war memorial on Amsterdam’s Weesperstraat, unveiled in 2021, also get a face.