Nationaal Archief. Search the collection of the Dutch National Archives

I’m looking for a resident of Curaçao

You can find a lot of information about the residents of Curaçao, such as the administrative archives, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Burgerlijke Stand) and the emancipation registers, in the Central Historical Archive in Willemstad. But you can also find out a great deal about the residents of this island at the Nationaal Archief. You can take a look at the archives of the Ministry of Colonies and the archive about the Dutch West Indies. Here you will find information about residents of Curaçao from roughly 1715 to 1863.

How do I proceed?

We recommend starting your research by taking a look at the population records.

  • Registry of baptisms, marriages and deaths (Doop-, Trouw- en Begraafboeken), c.1722-1835 (catalogue reference 1.05.12.01, inventory numbers 1454-1487). These archives originate from the Dutch Reformed Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Portuguese-Jewish Congregation and from the courts. Some of these archives can be searched using an index of names.
  • Lists of deceased persons in Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba, 1825-1828 (catalogue reference 2.10.01 number 3835). You will find the index of names in catalogue reference 2.10.04.
  • Petitions for permission to bury bodies with list of names of petitioners and deceased persons, 1823-1847 (catalogue reference 1.05.12.01 inventory number 302 and catalogue reference 1.05.12.02 inventory numbers 160-163) Some of these records can also be searched using an index.
  • List of houses in Willemstad, 1715, street by street, with names of occupants and owners (1.05.01.02 inventory number 206, pages 35-41).
  • Register of arriving and departing residents and passports issued 1833-1844, (catalogue reference 1.05.12.02 inventory numbers 313-315). Part of this archive can also be searched by name.
  • Population registers for the period 1838-1845. These also contain lists of names of plantations, gardens and their owners (catalogue reference 1.05.12.02 inventory number 172).
  • Birth registers of Portuguese-Jewish boys and girls 1722-1831. With records of marriages and deaths (catalogue reference 1.05.12.01 inventory numbers 1484 A and B).

Here you can find a complete list of archives containing information about people from Curaçao.

Specific population groups

Are you looking for a resident of Curaçao who belonged to a specific group of people, such as a slave, a serviceman or a civil servant? The links below will take you to instructions for further research.

Slaves and their liberation

Servicemen

Civil servants

Property, including slaves and plantations

Other sources

As well as the archives there are also many books and websites that you can use for your research. A list of these is given below.

Reference works

  • Dr. A.J.C. Krafft, Historie en oude families van de Nederlandse Antillen: het Antilliaanse patriciaat, The Hague 1951. Call number 196 C 29.
  • Yearbook of the Central Bureau for Genealogy (in Dutch) no. 20 (1966) p. 230-242 and no. 4 (1950) p. 160-204. Call number H 36 F.
  • Jan H. Kompagnie, POP-gids. Personen op papier. Overzicht van archief- en bibliotheekbestanden met gegevens over persoons- en beroepsgroepen in het Nationaal Archief, The Hague, n.d. This guide is available in the reading room.
  • S. Emmanuel, Precious stones of the Jews of Curaçao. Curaçaon Jewry 1656-1957, New York 1957. Call number 60 C 14.
  • I.S. en S.A. Emmanuel. History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles, Cincinnati 1970, 2 volumes. Call number 61 D 37.
  • Names of board members, civil servants and officers in the Herenboekjes van Amsterdam, in the Naamregister van de Heeren Leden der Regeering in de Vereenigde Provinciën, Amsterdam, 1750-1752. Call number 68 L 1.
  • T. van der Lee, Plantages op Curaçao en hun eigenaren (1705-1845), Leiden 1989. Call number 173 A 1; Reading room S 12 C 19. This book contains plantations, listed alphabetically by name, with the transportations related to each plantation, the names of the buyers and sellers and a list of sources.
  • J.A. Schiltkamp, De geschiedenis van het notariaat in het octrooigebied van de West-Indische Compagnie voor Suriname en de Nederlandse Antillen tot 1964, The Hague 1964. At the back of this book there is a list of civil servants tasked with notarial duties and professional notaries in Curaçao (1634-1953), along with surviving notarial protocols. Call number 59 D 9.
  • T. van der Lee. Curaçaose vrijbrieven 1722-1863, The Hague 1998. Reading room S 11 A 23.
    This book contains summaries of the deeds of release of slaves. At the back of the book there is a list of names of freed slaves and their former slave owners. This list is also available as a database on the internet; see below under Websites.

Websites

  • www.archief.nl/vrij-van-slavernij On this site you can search for the names of freed slaves and their owners in Curaçao and its dependencies, before slavery was abolished there in 1863.
  • www.slavernijverleden.nl This educational website has a page called Slavenreis(slave journey) which offers a virtual journey through the era of slavery. This site uses various documents held at the Nationaal Archief.

List of archives at the Nationaal Archief where you can find information about people from Curaçao, with catalogue references.

Since material in the Dutch West Indies archives is in poor physical condition, you can only view the old Curaçao archives on microfilm. These microfilms can be found in the self-service area of the reading room (stack D7a-b).

Sources at the Nationaal Archief on Curaçao residents

ArchivePeriodCatalogue reference
Disseminated records from the Dutch West Indiesc. 1614-18141.05.06
First West India Company1621-16741.05.01.01
Second West India Company1674-17911.05.01.02
Old archives of Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba1708-18281.05.12.01
Vice-regal government (Stadhouderlijke Secretarie)1747-17951.01.50
Council of the Colonies (Raad van Koloniën)1792-17951.05.02
Archive of the High Council of the Dutch West Indies possessions1828-18321.05.08.03
New archives of Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba1828-18451.05.12.02
Governor-general of the Dutch West Indies possessions1926-18451.05.08.01
Government secretary (Gouvernementssecretaris)1828-18481.05.08.02
Commissioner’s Office for Military Affairs in Suriname
(Commissariaat voor Militaire Zaken Suriname)
1828-18621.05.11.08
Ministry of Commerce and Colonies1806-18102.01.28.03
Ministry of Colonies: lists of deceased persons 1813-18492.10.04
Ministry of Colonies1814-18502.10.01
Ministry of Colonies1850-19002.10.02
Ministry of Colonies, sub-inventories1900-19632.10.34.04 and 2.10.36.011 to 2.10.36.012
Service book record of servicemen in the Dutch East and West Indies1814-19502.10.50
Service book record of civil servants in the Dutch West Indies1850-19152.10.36.015
Government commission for the emancipation of slaves
(Staatscommissie Slavenemancipatie)
1853-18562.10.32
Ministry of Colonies, pension payrolls1868-19252.10.31
Collection of Foreign Maps, Leupe16th -19th century4.VEL
Collection of Foreign Maps, supplement16th -19th century4.V

 

Slaves and their liberation

Slaves had virtually no rights. They were not allowed to marry and the births of slave children were not registered. The Catholic Church did concern itself with slave families, however, which is why the Catholic baptism registers from Curaçao include registrations of baptisms of slave children. But mothers and children are only mentioned by their first name. This is really too little to go on. It is therefore only possible to conduct reliable genealogical research into individual slaves or former slaves once they had been given an official surname. This was compulsory from 1833 onwards when a slave was released, and for all former slaves following their emancipation in 1863.

You can start your search in the Vrij van Slavernij database. Here you can search for the names of freed slaves and their owners in Curaçao. This concerns the period up until 1863, the year in which slavery was abolished in Curaçao.
The following records can also be found in the Nationaal Archief:

  • Petitions from ‘free negroes’ to marry free of charge, with rulings 1835-1840 (catalogue reference 1.05.12.02, inventory number 164)
  • Records on the abolition of slavery in the Dutch West Indies 1862-1868 (catalogue reference 2.02.09.09, inventory numbers 238-245). This archive also has an index of names of plantations, plantation owners and slave owners. It also includes information about the compensation paid by the Dutch government to each former slave owner.

Servicemen

Are you looking for someone who was a serviceman in Curacao? Below you will find a list of sources available at the Nationaal Archief.

Sources at the Nationaal Archief on servicemen in Curaçao

RecordsPeriodCatalogue referenceInventory numbersDetails
Pay ledgers, also of civil servants1675-17941.05.01.03226-232With index, some by first name
Pay ledgers, also of civil servants1675-18941.05.02121-121With index, some by first name
Muster rolls of sea voyagers WIC Guinea, St. Eustasius and Curaçao17661.01.501286 
Estates of servicemen and craftsmen who worked on the construction of the fortification1796-18281.05.12.01386See also catalogue reference 2.10.04, inventory number 4158
Muster rolls of non-commissioned officers and men1816-18492.10.013739-1778 
Muster rolls of non-commissioned officers and men1828-18371.05.11.0818-27 

 

Civil servants

Are you looking for someone who worked as a civil servant in Curaçao? Below you will find a list of sources available at the Nationaal Archief.

Sources at the Nationaal Archief on civil servants in Curaçao

RecordsPeriodCatalogue referenceInventory numbersDetails
Pay ledgers, also of servicemen1675-17941.05.01.02226-231With index, some by first name
Pay ledgers, also of servicemen1675-17941.05.02121-122With index, some by first name
Deeds of appointment and oath-taking1807-18361.05.12.01259-272With index
Records on appointments and dismissals1814-18202.10.013832 
Service books of civil servants in the Dutch West Indies1816, 18252.10.013314-3315With index
Service lists and register of service records1815-18172.10.013834 and 3834ASome with index
Payrolls1816-18251.05.12.011414-1419Some with index
Records of retired civil servants in the Dutch West Indies1818-18482.10.013265 

Monthly records of pay, pensions and bonuses

1826-18451.05.12.021093-1101 

Service books of civil servants in the Dutch West Indies

c. 1850-19182.10.36.015A891-A899Index in catalogue reference 2.10.2

 

Property

Are you looking for property in Curaçao? Below you will find a list of sources available at the Nationaal Archief.

Notarial and secretarial deeds

RecordsPeriodCatalogue referenceInventory numbersDetails
Protocols of notarial and secretarial deeds (including wills, estate inventories, prenuptial agreements and sometimes deeds of transfer)1707-18281.05.12.01794-1134,
1543-1563 and 1687
Some with index
Filed sealed deeds, including wills, deeds of protest and prenuptial agreements1762-18241.05.12.011225Index on page 107
Protocols of secretarial deeds, including deeds of transfer for immovable property and slaves1825-18451.05.12.02808-826 and 395 
Protocols of notarial deeds1829-18451.05.12.02749-799Index in inventory numbers 800-807

 

Orphans’, Ownerless and Insolvent Estates Chamber

RecordsPeriodCatalogue referenceInventory numbersDetails
Ledgers1709-18151.05.12.011240-1251With index
Estate accounts and estate papers1787-18271.05.12.011267-1302Some with index; In the archive inventory from page 114 onwards you can find a list of testators in the period 1787-1827
Ledgers1816-18761.05.12.02945-949Mainly with index
(Draft) estate account ledgers and estate accounts1818-18691.05.12.02950-968With index; In the archive inventory from page 47 onwards you can find a list of testators

 

Other sources

RecordsPeriodCatalogue referenceInventory numbersDetails
Registers of mortgages, mainly for immovable property and slaves1707, 1717, 1721-1724, 1729-18451.05.12.011135-1224, 1564-1568Some with index
Registers of mortgages, mainly for immovable property and slaves1707, 1717, 1721-1724, 1729-18451.05.12.02839-857Some with index; for 1828 onwards see inventory numbers 858-872
‘Vendu books’, also known as auction registers1779-18441.05.12.011436-1453 
‘Vendu books’, also known as auction registers1779-18441.05.12.021144-1154With an index of public auctions of movable and immovable property and slaves from 1816 onwards
Lists of poll tax (familiegelden) and head tax (hoofdgelden)1786-17891.05.01.02225 
Register of poll tax and head tax1820-18261.05.12.011399-1401, 1573-1574 
Tax assessments (kohieren) of 1% tax on property and possessions1827-18441.05.12.021065-1085 
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