I’m looking for a plantation in Curaçao
There were no large plantations on the island of Curaçao such as those in Suriname, for example; that is why they are often referred to as ‘plantations and gardens’. Virtually none of the produce grown on the approximately 100 plantations was exported; most of it was used to feed the islanders themselves. In addition to the cattle kept for meat and dairy products, the islanders lived on what they called ‘kleine maïs’, or sorghum. Salt was also extracted in Curaçao and Bonaire. At the Nationaal Archief you will find a number of publications and two archives containing records which may help you in your research into plantations.
How do I proceed?
A good way to start your research into the plantations in Curaçao is with the book Plantages op Curaçao en hun eigenaren by T. van der Lee (in Dutch). This publication lists the plantations in alphabetical order, along with the dates on which they were sold, their sellers and their buyers. The book also has an index listed alphabetically by plantation owner and has a map of Curaçao showing all the plantations.
In our archives you can search the records of Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba. The notarial archives and the archives of the financial administration are the most useful. You can fill in any gaps by consulting other archives such as that of theWees-, onbeheerde- en desolate boedelkamer(the Orphans’, Ownerless and Insolvent Estates Chamber). Bear in mind that this kind of research is not straightforward. In addition, many of the original records are in poor physical condition and you will have to consult them on microfilm and microfiche.
Archives of Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba 1707-1828 (catalogue reference 1.05.12.01)
- Notarial and secretarial deeds from Curaçao 1708-1828, some indexed according to the type of deed or with a chronological list of deeds per year. Among these you will find deeds of division of property (boedelscheidingen) and deeds of transfer (transportakten) (inventory numbers 794-1134 and 1687)
- Curaçao mortgage deeds 1724-1828, some with a chronological list by year (inventory numbers 1135-1224 and 1698)
- Estate accounts of the Orphans’, Ownerless and Insolvent Estates Chamber, 1787-1828. In the inventory you will also find the names of the estate account holders (numbers 1271-1302)
- Administration of Finances, containing the poll tax and head tax registers for 1820, 1823 and 1826 (inventory numbers 1573, 1574, 1375-1382)
Archives of Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba 1828-1845 (catalogue reference 1.05.12.02)
- Notarial deeds of Curaçao 1828-1845. These include prenuptial agreements and deeds of division. You will find chronological lists of these deeds under inventory numbers 800-807 (inventory numbers 749-799).
- Secretarial deeds 1828-1845 including deeds of transfer, some with a table of contents by year (inventory numbers 808-813 and 826).
- Register of real estate sold, in connection with transfer tax in 1834-1845, some with a table of contents by year (inventory numbers 827-838).
- Mortgage deeds 1828-1845 with corresponding indexes and chronological lists (inventory numbers 839-872)
- Estate accounts of the Orphans’, Ownerless and Insolvent Estates Chamber, 1828-1869. In this inventory you will also find the names of the estate account holders (inventory numbers 953-968)
- Administration of Finances, registers of tax assessments of properties and possessions 1827-1844. This also contains the tax assessments of plantations (inventory numbers 1065-1085).
Van der Lee, T., Plantages op Curaçao en hun eigenaren 1708-1845 (Leiden, 1989). Reading room call number: S 12 C 19
Renkema, W.E., Het Curaçaose plantagebedrijf in de negentiende eeuw (Zutphen, 1981). Library call number 199 A 14
Emmanuel, Isaac S. and Suzanne A., History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles (Cincinnati, 1970). Library call number 61 D 37
Almanak voor de Nederlandsche West-Indische bezittingen (The Hague and Paramaribo, years 1856, 1859 and 1860), library call number 53 A 12.
Map of some plantations on the island of Curaçao, c. 1720 (catalogue reference 4.VEL inventory numbers 1486 and 1487)
Map of Curaçao showing all plantations, 1836 (catalogue reference 4.TOPO inventory number 19.9.5).