About this project




This project offers a database with information concerning the circulation of commodities as found in the administration of the Bookkeeper-General (Boekhouder-Generaal) of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, for short VOC) in Batavia.

During the two centuries of its existence, 1602-1799, the VOC carried a bewildering array of commodities on its large fleet of ships, varying from Asian luxuries, spices and textiles for Europe to bullion, money and necessities for its army and other services in Asia and South Africa. In Batavia, the capital in Asia, the Bookkeeper-General and his clerks produced financial overviews of the exchange of goods between the Dutch Republic and the VOC’s empire around the Indian Ocean and in East Asia, as well as of the exchange between the different regional possessions and trading factories of the empire. The Bookkeeper-General sent annual copies of his administration to the Chambers Amsterdam and Zeeland, back home in the Netherlands. (Click here for an overview of all Bookkeepers-General in the 17th and 18th century)

Both the originals and the copies of the Bookkeeper-General’s books have mostly been lost. Fortunately, there still remains a sizable body of records covering 55 years of the eighteenth century, which is kept in the Nationaal Archief in The Hague. It is from these ledgers, and in particular from the invoices of over 18,000 voyages found in the general accounts (generaal journaal), that the information of this database has been retrieved. This information  provides a uniquely detailed and extensive insight into the dealings of one of the main players in the world trade of the eighteenth century.

An elaborate explanation and introduction to the database is written by Judith Schooneveld-Oosterling and Gerrit Knaap.  An explanatory overview of particular VOC terms can be found in the VOC-Glossarium. Other quantitative databases which might be of interest to users of the Bookkeeper-General Batavia are Dutch Asiatic Shipping and VOC-Opvarenden.

The project was carried out between 2008 and 2013 by

Judith Schooneveld-Oosterling (project leader), Gerrit Knaap (planning, coordination), Nicolien Karskens, Dorine Smit-Maarschalkerweerd, Sander Tetteroo, Joris van den Tol, Herman Nijhuis, Koen van Wijk, Anna Kunst, Jolanda Buijs, Maarten Jongma and Remco Boer.  The database application and the web research tool was developed by Jelle Gerbrandy for Huygens ING. Your feedback is welcome at webmaster@huygens.knaw.nl.

The project was made possible by generous grants from

  • Stichting VOC Fonds (main sponsor)
  • Vaderlands Fonds ter Aanmoediging van ’s Lands Zeedienst
  • Directie Oostersche Handel en Reederijen
  • Stichting Admiraal Van Kinsbergenfonds
  • Dr Hendrik Muller’s Vaderlandsch Fonds
  • M.A.O.C. Gravin van Bylandt Stichting.