gahetNA in the National Archives

I’m looking for an ancestor who was a slave in Curaçao

Slavery was abolished in Curaçao in 1863. The many freed slaves were officially given both a first name and a surname then. The lack of surnames up to that point makes it very difficult to search for ancestors. It is almost impossible to track down ancestors before 1828.

How do I proceed?

When carrying out genealogical research, it is important to start from the present and work backwards into the past. Gather as much information as you can at home, such as names and places.


Throughout the period in which slavery existed, slave owners would occasionally release one or more slaves – as a reward for faithful service, for example. Some freed slaves also attempted to buy the freedom of their relatives. In the Vrij van Slavernij (Free from Slavery) index (in Dutch) you can search by the slave name of the freed slave and by the name of the owner.


When slavery was abolished it was determined that slave owners should receive 300 guilders for each emancipated slave from the Dutch government. These payments are reported in the Netherlands Court of Audit archive. In the relevant index of names you will find the names of all the people who were slaves prior to 1863. You can view this index of names in the Nationaal Archief reading room. You will find the index in the inventory cabinet under number 2.02.10.

The accounts for the payments can be found in folders organised by region. You will find these under inventory numbers 238-243 in the Netherlands Court of Audit archives. Request the inventory number you are looking for in catalogue reference on the computer.

Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Burgerlijke Stand)

After 1863 you can use the archives of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. These are kept at the Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands Antilles. Some of the information is now available on the Genlias website. If you cannot find what you are looking for, you can contact the Netherlands Antilles national archives at is a website of the National Archives of The Netherlands in cooperation with the Society for the National Archives and Spaarnestad Photo.
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