A Short History of the Gathering of Dutch-Indonesian Genealogy.

by Jan A. Krancher

The "repatriation" of the Dutch-Indonesian to the Netherlands has had numerous repercussions. As a result of this migration, these people became separated from their sources of information; from data pertaining to their ancestry, in essence, they were ripped from their roots.

The official registry containing certificates and documents are still housed in Indonesia. But that is not all. Due to the Japanese occupation of the islands in the early 40s and the subsequent Indonesian revolution, many registries have been destroyed or were lost. What currently remains of these records can therefore be considered incomplete. So if someone wants to find information about their family or in-laws, that person will encounter difficulties. There certainly are data available in the Netherlands, but these are incomplete. Besides, searching the archives is after all not everybody's cup of tea. The first few years this was not so obvious yet.

The repatriates had other matters to worry about such as acclimating to different weather and other circumstances, starting a new career, child care, etc. In other words, genealogical research was definitely not one of their top priorities.

In the mean time during the first few years, something else took place in the Netherlands which was very serious: massive Dutch-Indonesian (Indisch) information was being lost. It happened in this manner: the oldest generation lived in small apartments or in retirement homes and they had with them pictures, papers and their mementoes. When someone passed away their descendants proceeded with a thorough, radical clean up. Of primarily interest to them was money and jewelry but everything else was being discarded. This was especially true when children lived far away in Australia and California. So who cared? If something would be kept, it would be a wedding picture of someone whom they did not even recognize that of an unknown bride or groom. Or it could be an album containing a picture of Marietje (Marie) standing underneath a palm tree or Pietje (Peter) with the maid, almost invariably nameless. Oh well, nobody ever wrote names in a picture album at that time anyway. They did not even write something as an introduction such as "This is a picture album of the Blauwoog (Blue eye) family from Djocja." I wish they would have done that.

Saving family data was only started in the 1960s by Tjalie Robinson, using his magazine, the MOESSON (formerly called Tong- Tong). He managed to find the historian Jurriaan van Toll ready and willing to write about the Dutch-Indonesian families. He started a collection and more than 100 articles, a very valuable piece of literature indeed. But after his untimely death, his collection of books, papers and index was summarily discarded by his widow. This was hard to believe. The collection was thrown in the trash and put on the curb. The van Toll archives was lost forever but fortunately his publications have been preserved for posterity.

There are still other older publications from the period before the war. Mr. Bloys van Treslong Prins and a few other "Indisch" genealogists have published data about Indisch families. These too have been preserved and now constitute an inheritance for which we ought to be grateful. Credit goes to these early workers that we now do not have to start from scratch.

However, this does not take away the fact that we now have inherited the task. We have to preserve everything which still can and should be safeguarded.

Such an endeavor is beyond the capacity of one person to perform. The assistance of all Indisch families is required. Within each family one individual ought to be willing to take charge of this responsibility. Everyone knows something even if it were only their own data and those of brothers, sisters and other close relatives. Other concerns are also valid such as the preservation of documents, certificates, pictures, stories, letters, etc. Taken together this activity would capture a picture of the Indisch families.

A short explanation is in order at this time. The IFA (Indisch Familie Archief) does not possess data on the West Indies nor about Indonesians. To be sure, there are many connecting points but generally speaking, the IFA is not geared towards doing research.

On February 15, 1973, two years after the death of Jurriaan van Toll, the IFA was established. Primarily intended as a rescue mission, it now also serves as a source of information for the Indisch descendants. So what has been done thus far?

The result of all these efforts has been published in the booklet "Indisch Family Names." In 1977 it accounted for 900 families each having dossier established. In 1983 the number grew to 6,500. By 1988 the total was already 12,000 and as of 1992, there are 14,000 family dossiers. We now own a collection which consists of approximately 90 percent of all Indisch family names. With the aid of these books anybody can determine beforehand if there is a dossier available for a certain family and what this dossier contains.

The content of these dossiers is often quiet varied. More is known about one family than about another. One of the reason for this is that people are not as sharing as others. And one family may be more extended that another. Data is daily still being added to these dossiers. Some people send us overviews, documents, pictures, stories, memoirs and all of this is welcomes and useful for the building up of this repository. But unfortunately there are still families who do not respond at all so their dossiers are virtually empty.

In the event that there is an interest expressed by a certain family, we then can pay more attention to that particular dossier. However, we have to be convinced that this is indeed the case. It should not merely be a telephone call or that of writing a few lines. It should be done by submitting a significant "own submittal." Otherwise we could devote a lot of time on a dossier for which there probably would never be a further request.

At the time of its 20th anniversary, the IFA published a small booklet containing an overview of the various IFA collections. Anybody who intends to use this archive, can determine what its capabilities are.

The IFA is a private collection. There is a good reason for this - all superfluous work is avoided. There is no administration, no meetings are held, no monthly reports are published, there are no discussions, no contributions are required, there are no dead-beats and there is no monthly publication but all efforts are concentrated on the primary objective, that of attempting to rescue of as much information as possible which would otherwise be lost forever. The IFA does not have a salaried staff. All the work is done by volunteers. We are not accountable to anybody but are happy to assist. All those who are interested and want to make use of our archives, do not pay a cent. However, you cannot come empty handed! We require that those who visit us, leave at least their "own submittal" This stringent rule has been instituted in order to guarantee a smooth operation of the archives.

This "own submittal" has to comply with a specific format. No line drawing is to be submitted because you cannot get too far with this approach. Genealogy should be something which should read like a book. Those who want to start are advised to request a folder beforehand. In it the method and example for such a composition of own data is provided. This "own submittal" you need yourself anyway. It is the beginning, the foundation on which you continue to build in the future.

In 1982, Mr. Visker invited the Utah Genealogical Society (Mormon Church) to come in and start filming the content of the IFA, resulting in 21 rolls of 16 mm microfilms, each 40 meters in length and containing 3,000 pictures each. In 1994 another effort was made to film the new additions which resulted in a total of 36 rolls, containing approximately 14,000 typical Indisch family names.

IFA has been relinquished by Mr. Visker in 1995 due to advanced age and it is now operated by a non-profit organization, called the "Stichting IFA." (SIFA) It is currently headquartered at Stadhouderslaan 2, 2517 HW, Den Haag, the Netherlands. They are in dire need of contributions since they are an all-volunteer institute. They can be visited at sifa.nl. The same policy was adopted by SIFA since it was working so well.

Those who are unable to visit their office in the Netherlands now have an opportunity to access an Email address or postal address in the United States. Send inquiries to Jan A. Krancher at indojank1@sbcglobal.net. His URL is http://krancher.org/.

(The original manuscript was written in Dutch by Mr. Visker and with his permission was translated and adapted for Internet format by Jan A. Krancher)

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