Translated from Dutch NOS TV:
Surinamese slave registers now accessible to everyone
For those looking for more information about his or her Surinamese ancestors, doing research on Surinamese slavery or preparing lessons on slavery, the search from today will be easier. The Surinamese slave registers are now available online from today on.
The slave registers consist of 43 big books with a total of almost 30,000 pages. They are classified by the names of the slave owners or plantations. The name of the enslaved person is registered, just like the date of birth, the sex and the name of the mother (the father was not registered). Information about sales, contagious diseases, release and other information that was important for the status and monetary value of people in slavery can also be found in the register. Approximately 80,000 people are registered who lived in slavery in Suriname from 1830 to 1863.
“The slave registers are unique, it is the only source with detailed information that gives the possibility to follow all people in slavery over 35 years”, says initiator Coen van Galen.
Coen van Galen of the Radboud University in Nijmegen and Maurits Hassankhan of the Anton de Kom University of Suriname are the initiators of the project ‘Make the Surinamese slave registers public’. Together they have recruited 1500 volunteers who have contributed to digitizing the registers. The volunteers have put the information of all scans in a database within four months. With a crowdfunding campaign and donors, the initiators have raised money for the project.
“The slave registers in the National Archive of Suriname were not easily accessible, for example there was no index, so you could not search easily”, says Hassankhan. That has changed now. “It is now easily accessible to everyone worldwide.”
The fact that the registers are now digitally accessible is important both for the public and for science. “People need to know where they come from and learn more about their ancestors”, says Hassankhan. “This is important for your identity as an individual and as a group.” This source is also important for science. According to Van Galen, it gives scientists the opportunity to understand what slavery was and meant for people. …
The slave registers are from today on online and accessible to everyone via the website of the National Archives in The Hague and the Nationaal Archief Suriname. The symbolic launch date of the slave registers is July 1st during Keti Koti. …