Slave trade in the archives of the MCC

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The Middelburg Commerce Compagnie (MCC), a trading company from Middelburg in the Netherlands, traded many enslaved Africans in the 18th century. From 1732 till 1807 the company bought 31.095 enslaved Africans with the purpose to sell them in the West-Indies. UNESCO inscribed the archives of the MCC in the Memory of the World Register. The archives are administered by the Zeeland Archives (“Zeeuws Archief”) in Middelburg.

World heritage

The documents from the archives of the MCC provide a detailed picture of the slave trade. The detailed information in addition to the completeness and good condition of the archives resulted in the inscription in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. Since May 2011 the archives of the MCC are listed as international documentary heritage.

Transatlantic slave trade or triangle trade

How should we imagine the practices of slave trade? The MCC traded goods against enslaved Africans. The slaves were then shipped across the Atlantic Ocean and sold in the West Indies to traders and plantation owners. Finally, the MCC ships sailed back to the Netherlands (Zeeland) with the plantation products, mostly sugar, tobacco and cacao. This type of slave trade is called transatlantic slave trade or triangle trade.

A unique and crucial collection

The MCC kept a detailed administration of each of the slave journeys. In the archives of the MCC, the administration, such as accountancy, ship journals and correspondences, can be found virtually complete and intact. From a global perspective the archives are both a unique and a crucial collection of documentary heritage.

Digitization has started

The Zeeland Archives strives for an overall digitization of the archives of the MCC archive and public access through the internet. Thanks to the support of Metamorfoze (the Dutch National Program for the Conservation of Paper Heritage), the digitization of the first part started in June 2012. The first digitized documents were accessible in 2014. Digitization will be completed by the autumn of 2015.

Dutch national commemoration

In 2014 the national commemoration of the 200 years Dutch abolishment of the slave trade took place in Middelburg.

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