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Ordinary then, extraordinary afterwards

Mevrouw Van der Hoop tachtig jaar, 3 november 1959. Zij zit in het midden, omringd door familie, pachters en personeel

Toen gewoon, achteraf bijzonder

Henny van Harten-Boers

Publisher: Stichting landgoed Fraeylemaborg, Slochteren

ISBN: 9789080484603

The oral history of the Fraeylemaborg estate in Slochteren. The Fraeylemaborg was privately occupied until
1972, after which it became a museum.
Therefore, for a long time there were still people who could tell from their own experience about life on this historic estate. Henny van Harten spoke with members of the family, chambermaids, tenants and local residents. The memories of these people are vivid and detailed and cover the period from 1920 to 1970.

 

The title of the book is taken from a quote by Louise Thomassen à Thuessink van der Hoop van Slochteren (1915-2008): “We always thought it was quite ordinary, but afterwards you realize: well, that was quite special after all!”

Indonesian portraits

Elderly Indonesians and Chinese-Indonesians in Yogyakarta

The art project Indonesian Portraits by Martin van den Oever, Petra Timmer and Jos Janssen was created as part of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies’ research programme From India to Indonesia. It consists of two parts. This part consists of interviews with elderly Indonesians in Yogyakarta, who learned Dutch during the colonial period.

The interviews focus on events and experiences in the 1920s – 2006.
They mainly talk about the Netherlands and Indonesia. Themes include World War II, Japanese occupation, fear, connection with the Dutch language and the Netherlands, youth, Indonesian revolution, schooling, Japanese language.

The collection is of limited public availability. If interested, please contact Jos Janssen.
The collection is on DV tapes. To preserve the interviews permanently for the future, digitisation and transfer to an e-depot is desirable.

The female hero

Wendy Janssen . De vrouwelijke held. In Wim Willems & Jaap de Moor (red.), Het Einde van Indië: Indische Nederlanders tijdens de Japanse bezetting en de dekolonisatie.
Sdu Uitgeverij, 1995

 

PhD research on identification processes in a postcolonial context; a study of intergenerational transmission among three generations of women of Indian background.

 

Wendy Janssen was a PhD student at the Belle van Zuylen Institute for Multicultural Gender Studies where Selma Leydessdorff was director. She wanted to investigate how narratives are passed on within families, and how different generations view their families’ reception in the Netherlands and their place in society over the years. Questions included: How are you seen? How do you see yourself? And how do you deal with that?

 

The interviews focus on events and experiences in the 1920s – 1996.
They mainly discuss Indonesia and the Netherlands. Themes include World War II, Indonesian revolution, arrival and reception in the Netherlands, identity, Dutch society, positioning, adaptation.

 

Management: The collection is managed by Wendy Janssen.
Preservation: The collection is on cassette tapes. To preserve the interviews permanently for the future digitisation and transfer to an e-depot is desirable.

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.

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.

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.

Neighbourhood C Utrecht

Groepsportret van vijf bewoners uit Wijk C te Utrecht

volksbuurtmuseum.nl

 

hetutrechtsarchief.nl

 

Number of interviews: 248

 

In time online and in the reading room

 

Interviews with residents of Wijk C

In the coming years, with the support of the Mondriaanfonds, a large part of the archive will be digitised, described and published on hetutrechtsarchief.nl and volksbuurtmuseum.nl. The collection will be given on long-term loan to the Utrecht Archive, where the originals will be stored. In addition, the documents will be made available to researchers in the reading room.

 

Photo: Group portrait of five residents of Wijk C in Utrecht, who all have a nickname:Louis Bronius (‘De Sponzenduiker’), de heer Bontrop (‘De Kruk’), Jacobus Broekman (‘Kobus de Fots’), Johannes van den Oudenalder (‘Hannes de Kokkel’) en Piet A. Roomenburg (‘Piet de Brommert’). Circa 1930.
see the original

Het verleden verteld. Twintig interviews van het Volksbuurtmuseum Wijk C

Marja van der Wees e.a.

Uitgeverij: Stichting De Plantage
EAN: 9789080022461

Although the name of Utrecht’s Wijk C was officially abolished in 1890 and the houses were largely demolished between 1950 and 1980, the district is still widely known as a working-class neighbourhood. What remains are a few renovated streets, a few pubs, the restored Jacobi Church, and memories – many, many memories.

Twenty interviews with residents of Wijk C reveal in this book the past of a neighbourhood full of large families, industrious retailers, sturdy hauliers, small factories and working-class pubs. A neighbourhood with extensive street life and great solidarity. A neighbourhood never to be forgotten.