I’m looking for a plantation in Suriname
Plantations in Suriname were capital-intensive agricultural businesses that grew products for the world market. Their main motive was profit. The plantations usually specialised in one product in order to make as much money as possible. They were generally financed by Dutch trading houses. These trading houses sold the produce to consumers in the Netherlands or elsewhere. If you want to find out more about plantations in Suriname, there are various records you can consult on the subject. There is also a lot of information available on the internet, in almanacs and in the archives of the Nationaal Archief.
How do I proceed?
You can start by searching the internet. There are now many sites with information on Surinamese plantations. Click here for a list of reliable sites about Surinamese plantations.
You can also start with the almanacs that were published annually in Suriname between 1793 and 1928. These almanacs have gone by different names over the years, such as the Surinaamsche Staatkundige Almanach, the Surinaamsche Almanak and De Vraagbaak. Click here for a list of the almanacs at the Nationaal Archief.
The main archives to focus on are the notarial archives and the archives of the financial authorities that taxed the plantations. Bear in mind that many of the original records are in poor physical condition. Many are available on microfilm, but even these microfilms are not always clearly legible. It is therefore a good idea to find out as much information as you can from websites, publications and alphabetical indexes before you embark on your archive research. Below is a list of all the records you can search:
- Surinamese notarial archives 1699-1828 (catalogue reference 1.05.11.14). These records contain several series with information on plantations, such as in wills, prenuptial agreements and the series containing inventories and valuations (prisaties) from 1699-1828. You will find these series under inventory numbers 152-301, 832-842, 686-709 and 899. Some parts of these series are indexed. More information on the period 1713-1742 can be found in the Bijlsma lists at www.surinaamsegenealogie.nl. During the period 1742-1782, paper indexes were made of the names of plantation owners, names of owners and testators of moveable and immovable property and slaves in Paramaribo, and names of plantations and street names in Paramaribo. You will find these indexes here (link to the indexes on the site) and under numbers S 12 B and C in the reference library in the reading room.
- Surinamese notarial archives 1828-1845 (catalogue reference 1.05.11.15). These records contain several series with information on plantations, such as in wills, prenuptial agreements and the series containing inventories andprisaties (valuations) from 1826-1841. You will find the latter under inventory number 108. The whole archive is available on microfilm and can be consulted in the microfilm repository in the reading room.
- Administration of Finances 1751-1828 (catalogue reference 1.05.10.07). Here you will find information in the administration of the so-called Head Tax, the tax imposed on slave-keeping. You will find these in inventory number 274 onwards. From there you can search further in the records relating to plantations. The assessment registers provide the most information.
- Controller-General of Finances 1828-1903 (catalogue reference 1.05.11.07). In this archive you will find most information in the head tax records; these can be found in inventory numbers 74, 75, 92-94 and 146-148. This archive also contains information on individual plantations, particularly Hasard and Broederschap.
- New Orphans’, Ownerless and Insolvent Estates Chamber (De Nieuwe Wees-, Curatele- en Onbeheerde Boedelkamer) 1788-1828 (catalogue reference 1.05.11.12). In this archive you can find information on estates to which slaves and plantations belong. But bear in mind that this archive is far from complete and is also difficult to access.
- Committee on the Affairs of the New Orphans’, Ownerless and Insolvent Estates Chamber 1828-1876 (catalogue reference 1.05.11.13) This archive contains two series on ownerless estates and orphans and the plantations or woodlands pertaining to them. Inventory number 754-3025 is organised more or less alphabetically by first name. Inventory numbers 3026-3050 are organised by plantation name.
Besides these archives, you can also find more information on specific plantations at the Nationaal Archief. Some plantations’ own archives have even survived.
- Spieringshoek aan de Commewijne Plantation 1819-1955 (catalogue reference 2.20.80)
- La Prospérité Plantation 1823-1909 (catalogue reference 2.01.37.05)
- Particuliere West Indische Bank 1829-1870 (catalogue reference 1.05.11.07). Here you will find records from the following plantations: Catharina Sophia 1846-1864, Mijn Vermaak 1846-1850, Rustenburg 1844-1862, Sporksgift 1850-1851 and Lodewijksburg 1850-1851.
- Aanwinsten van de Eerste Afdeling (Individual acquisitions filed in the former first section of the Nationaal Archief) (catalogue reference 1.11.01.01). This archive contains records from the Aurora plantation in inventory number 1716.
- Verspreide Westindische stukken (Diverse records from the Dutch West Indies) 1624-1875 (catalogue reference 1.05.06). In inventory number 1153 you will find information on the Misgunst plantation on the Mot Creek, and in inventory number 1388 you will find information on the Corneliasburg plantation on Warappa Creek.
The Dutch Economic History Archive (Nederlandse Economische Historisch Archief,NEHA), held by the International Institute for Social History, consists of a number of business archives from Surinamese plantations such as Vossenburg, Wayampibo and Vredesteyn.
- Beeldsnijder, Ruud, Om werk van jullie te hebben; Plantageslaven in Suriname1730-1750 (Utrecht 1994). Call number V 1021.14
- Ten Hove, Okke, Surinaamse emancipatie 1863; familienamen en plantages, Bronnen voor de studie van Suriname,volume 24 (Amsterdam and Utrecht 2003). Reading room call number: S 12 C 22
- Oostindië, Gerrit Jan, Roosenburg en Mon Bijou:twee Surinaamse plantages 1720-1870, KITLV Caribbean series no. 11. Call number V 763.11.
- Ten Hove, Okke and Janssen, René ed., Historisch-geografisch woordenboek van Suriname naar A.J. van der Aa 1839-1851, Bronnen voor de studie van Afro-Surinaamse samenlevingen, volume 14 (Utrecht 1993). Call number V 1021.14
- In the map reference library in the reading room you will find a facsimile atlas of Suriname: Bubberman, F.C. and C. Koeman, Schakels met het verleden: de geschiedenis van de kartografie van Suriname 1500-1971 (Amsterdam, 1973).
- The following maps are on microfilm and can be viewed in the reading room:
- www.surinaamsegenealogie.nl You will find a link to plantations under ‘Genealogisch Zoeken’ (Genealogical Search). This page contains references to many maps, theSurinaamsche Almanakand the Bijlsma plantation lists for the period 1713-1742. The notarial deeds used to compile these lists are all held at the Nationaal Archief.
- www.surinamistiek.nl Here you will find an index of plantation names in 1863, the year in which slaves were emancipated, and an index of the surnames that were given to former slaves that year on each plantation.
- You can also find a number of traced genealogies on the internet which also provide information on the plantations where these families lived and worked. You will find an example of this at www.pinasroots.nl/plantages (in Dutch).
- The Surinaamsche Staatkundige Almanach for the years 1793 and 1795 can be requested via call number 53 A. This includes: name book of the plantations and estates of this colony, with plantations in alphabetical order, including the river/creek on which the plantation was located, the owners, the administrators or tenants, the directors and the product grown there.
- Surinaamsche Almanak for the year… Published in the years 1820-1913. This includes: a list of names of plantations and estates showing the size of the concession and its product, along with the names of the owners, directors and administrators. These plantations are summarised by river. You can request the volumes for 1820, 1825, 1827, 1830, 1831, 1834-1837 and 1841-1846 via call number 53 A 10.
- Almanak voor de Nederlandsche West-Indische bezittingen (Almanac for Dutch West-Indies Possessions). This almanac for 1856 contains an alphabetical list of plantations in Suriname, along with the location, the slaves’ name for the plantation where applicable, and a reference to a page with detailed information about the plantation, in the section entitled Staat der Plantaadjen (Plantation Register). The information on the plantations is organised by division or province. For each plantation, you will find the number of slaves, how many are fit and unfit for work, the size of the plantation, what products are grown on it, how many free people work there and who the owners, managers and directors are. You can request the years 1856, 1859 and 1860 via call number 53 A 12.
- De Vraagbaak – Almanak voor Suriname 1912-1928. This publication includes a list of agricultural companies (Lijst van produceerde Grote Landbouwondernemingen) with an alphabetical list of plantations, their district, size, products, yields, names of the owners and where they live, the managers, the overseer and the number of workers, subdivided into immigrants and free persons.