Farewell to the Dutch East Indies



Stories of veterans who served in the former Dutch East Indies (1941-1950) from the Dutch Veterans Interview Collection are an important source for this research, along with military-historical and social-scientific literature.

Lees verder op: veteraneninstituut

Artwork Biographies & Institutional Memory


Works of art in museum collections are managed and shaped by institutional policies and personal beliefs. Oral History methodology can help to explore this socio-cultural perspective.

However, the tools to facilitate this in conservation research still lag behind. The project ‘Artwork Biographies and Institutional Memory’ (Art_Bios_In_Me) is set up along two lines of research that address this problem. One explores obstacles and pitfalls in archiving and unlocking interviews to improve museum workflow, while the other encourages technological advances in transcribing and unlocking this unique source material, preparing it for digital humanities research.

The Kröller-Müller Museum (KMM) and the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE) will provide case study material to assess the deposit infrastructure with Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS), and conduct a feasibility study to adapt Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) for preservation with the Foundation for Open Speech Technology (FOST). Only time-stamped transcripts will make interviews searchable – opening up opportunities for text-mining, cross-referencing and other applications of artificial intelligence (AI). The intended methodological and technological advances in the use of Oral History methodology in conservation research will be of great benefit to technical art history, object diagnosis, conservation decision-making, and cultural heritage analysis in general.



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.



Narrated (In)justice



status: ongoing research

Narrated (In)justice is a research project (2014-2016) by historian Nicole L. Immler that depicts how historical injustice increasingly demands public attention through financial compensation claims. Worldwide, compensation payments for victims have become an important part of ‘recognition’ in recent years. In the Netherlands, recent payments to Jewish-Dutch victims have played a role in the claims of victims of the decolonisation war in Indonesia (the so-called Rawagede case) and are also a point of reference in the claims of descendants of former enslaved people from the former colonies of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.


On the basis of three Dutch cases – relating to the Holocaust, colonialism and slavery – the project shows how the experience of injustice in families is passed on over generations, what the motivation behind compensation claims is, and what the perception and meaning of such measures is. The question is whether such compensation also meets people’s expectations of it.


The research Narrated (In)Justice was made possible by a Marie Curie Fellowship in the 7th European Community Framework Program, carried out within the research programme ‘Understanding the Age of Transitional Justice: Narratives in Historical Perspective’ of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


Immler, Dr N.L. (NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies) (2017): Thematic collection: Narrated injustice. DANS.



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.

Stories in motion

© Arie Kers – Studio Erasmus


In progress


Project lead
prof. dr. H.C. Dibbits


Kunst- en Cultuureducatie


1 April 2021 to 1 September 2022


Research programme
Innovation and Networks (NWA)



The research project ‘(Re-)Tracing History. New Methodologies for Making the Past Tangible, Palpable and Negotiable’


Three teams of researchers at Utrecht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen will develop innovative methods that make overlooked or ignored traces of the past tangible, palpable, and negotiable, in order to defuse tensions in society and enrich public debate. They will do so in co-creation with citizens and societal partners, focusing on oral histories (Erasmus University), dance and embodiment (Radboud University), and interactive technologies (Utrecht University). 


Norah Karrouche and Arno van der Hoeven’s subproject, ‘Stories in motion: oral history as sustainable data in urban settings’, seeks to develop, analyse and evaluate methods for making oral histories accessible as sustainable resources for citizens and a range of stakeholders in urban settings.


Oral history projects are generally conducted in communities which may have been overlooked by traditional archival institutions, and around issues that may fall outside the scope of many collection policies. These oral histories are often not stored or curated in a sustainable manner after projects end.

© Arie Kers – Studio Erasmus

From June 2021 onwards, Arno van der Hoeven and Norah Karrouche will develop a model for collecting and enriching oral history data, making these data accessible through standards for data interoperability, and reusing oral histories to generate knowledge on societal issues in urban settings. They will do so in collaboration with several (local) partners: Dona Daria, Stadsarchief Rotterdam, DIG IT UP, CLARIAH and Geschiedenislab.

The Netherlands, Europe and the Maastricht Treaty

Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers (r) addresses the press during a conference in Maastricht, after the EC leaders’ negotiations on the European Union. Looking on are European Commission President Jacques Delors (c) and Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek.

Political oral history project:
The Netherlands, Europe and the Maastricht Treaty


What happened behind the closed doors in the Gouvernement on 9 and 10 December 1991? Which government leaders dominated the Euro summit? How did the deals come about? Who were the winners, who the losers? These are some of the questions we seek answers to in our political oral history project.

We ask them not only to senior politicians and diplomats. But also to bankers, economists, lobbyists, journalists and opinion makers. We focus primarily on the Dutch side of the story, but we also allow relevant actors from our neighbouring countries – Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom – to have their say.

Farmers from the region and the border region made their voices heard at the ’91 summit

Public Oral History Project: Mestreech ’92

We also collect the stories of ‘ordinary’ Maastrichtians and Limburgers. Because all memories of the 1991 Euro summit and the signing of the treaty in 1992 are cultural heritage. Also those of the general public. They teach historians how a local community responded to an event of global importance.


Were you a driver for government leaders during the Euro summit? Did you take part in the farmers’ protests? As an entrepreneur or with your association, did you respond to this special event? Did you, perhaps as a civil servant, contribute to the preparations? If so, please contact us. You can do so via the website of Mestreech ’92. View the first anecdotes and share your story too!


Interviews in Conservation Research

University of Amsterdam & NICAS
Sanneke Stigter


number of interviews: 28

(growing collection)


  • Conservator Interviews
  • Curator Interviews
  • Artist Interviews



Interviews in Conservation Research is a growing collection of oral history records that can inform the preservation, conservation and presentation of works of art and cultural heritage in the Netherlands. Many professionals in museums and heritage institutions conduct interviews with artists, artist assistants and conservators, as well as with other stakeholders, such as curators, directors and collectors to learn more about the works they have in their collections. These interviews are rarely sustainably archived nor easily accessible for other researchers, as their existence as primary sources is relatively unknown. This thematic collection helps to overcome these problems and is one of the main results of the NWO funded KIEM project Interviews in Conservation Research, a partner project of the Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science (NICAS) as part of the Conservation Oral History Initiative. This is an ongoing initiative and additions to the thematic collection Interviews in Conservation Research are welcome to build a rich collection of unique source material that allows for cross-referencing and provides a unique view on the behind the scenes of the lives of works of art and cultural heritage in the Netherlands.



OH-SMArt – Oral History Stories at the Museum around Artworks

Funded by:





dr. Sanneke Stigter

Oral History – Stories at the Museum around Artworks’ (OH-SMArt) is a long term initiative to significantly improve the digital research chain around using Oral History and spoken narratives, with research into artworks and museums as a use case. Holding unique audiovisual recordings about artworks in their archives, museums have a severe backlog in disclosing and sharing this information, because of the laborious workflow of storing and transcribing, the sensitivity of some of the material, and the lack of tools to use and reflect upon the content. These are generic problems for all researchers engaging with spoken narratives. An improved and user friendly deposition workflow that automatically connects to an automatic speech transcription service will resolve a significant part of this problem.


Additionally, the improved workflow enables the development of new tools that especially aim at facilitating reflection by contextualizing the source material with layers of user interpretations, placing the researcher’s viewpoint into perspective. Opening up the behind the scenes of museums in a smart way, OH-SMArt advances research with spoken narratives around artworks and contributes to existing digital research infrastructures with domain-wide applications for knowledge development.