Robin Haast, stagiaire bij het Nationaal Archief Suriname

Suriname: Memory of Suriname returns home

After more than 100 years of being stored in the Netherlands, 40 archives will be returned to Suriname

‘The memory of Suriname is returning home,’ stated the former Minister of Internal Affairs of Suriname, Maurits Hassankhan. In mid-January the last box was symbolically transferred to Suriname. Rita Tjien-Fooh, director of the National Archives Suriname, received the box from Jet Bussemaker, Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science. Juliette Kasmin Redman, Chargé d’Affaires of Suriname, was also present during the ceremony, together with Marens Engelhard, the National Archivist of the Netherlands.

Available online
The collections cover the colonial period, which extended from the end of the seventeenth century until Suriname’s independence in 1975. The archives were ‘temporarily’ stored in the Netherlands because of the lack of a suitable storage facility in Suriname. Now the country has a new archival building (erected in 2010) in which the collection can be stored under ideal circumstances. The collections that will go back to Suriname vary from Doop- Trouw- en Begraafregisters (baptismal, marriage and burial records) (1662- 1818) to the population censuses of 1921 and 1950 – interesting sources of information for genealogists and historians!

Before the archives return to Suriname, all of the records have been digitised and made available for online research. During the digitisation project, more than 5.5 million scans were made of the Surinamese records. Now these documents can be found on the website of the National Archives of the Netherlands.   

The symbolic transfer was accompanied by a symposium. Historians gave an in-depth analysis of what can be found in these particular archives. Their lectures  can be found on the website of the National Archives of the Netherlands.