Migration History

The IISH houses important collections on the history of (labour) migration in many countries of the world. IISH staff members have published on almost every single migrant group in the Netherlands and are playing a prominent role in the development of global migration history. Over the past decade a third category of activities has been developed, the so-called meta sources of large digital datasets.

A 'Hand' Drawing for Daddy

A "Hand" Drawing for Daddy

The engagement of the IISH with Global Migration History therefore falls into the three broad categories of
1. Collections;
2. Research;
3. Metasources.

The IISH is one of the co-founders of the Netherlands Centre for History of Migrants (CGM) and its migration actitivies are taking place within the context of this Centre. The CGM stimulates research on the arrival and settlement of immigrants by tracing sources related to their history. It publishes a series of working papers. The CGM-website www.vijfeeuwenmigratie.nl is hosted by the IISH. This website aims to expose Dutch migration history to a wide range of visitors; migrants, descendants of migrants, school teachers, journalists and students. The website contains articles, audiovisual material, film strips, migrant stories, selected collections of archives and museums and links to relevant (regional) projects.

1. Collections

Collections at the IISH, including those from long ago, offer many directions for further research, which can be found in the specific archives of migrants and their organizations, as well as in more general archives such as the Labour and Socialist International and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which also include files about migrants of various nationalities. The oldest collection that is completely devoted to the migration theme is the archive of the Duchobory, Russian peace activists who emigrated to Canada at the end of the 19th century.

Migration to South Africa, Collection IISH/AHF - call nr BG B29/969
The majority of the migrant organization archives deals with the Netherlands, and the text materials are mainly in Dutch. The archives of Turkish organizations in the Netherlands are the largest, which accord with the large and impressive Turkish and Kurdish collections acquired by the Turkey Desk.

• A list of all collections available at the IISH (archives, sound material, photo collections, web presentations) originating from immigrants and their organizations outside the Netherlands is presented here. They can be found by searching under the nationality of the migrants concerned:
Supranational | Afghans | Egyptians | Germans | Indonesians | Iranians | Russians | Turcs

• Collections of immigrants organizations based in the Netherlands have been listed (in Dutch):
Supranational | Austrian | Belgians | Chileans | Chinese | Germans | Greeks | Indonesians | Iranians | Italians | Kurdish | Moroccans | Polish | Slovenes | Spanish | Surinamese | Turcs

• Additional information is to be found in Survey of the Archival Sources concerning Migration and Settlement held at the IISH (.pdf, 580 Kb) / Sander Vis, Research Paper IISH 16, 1995

For information on accessing the collections see Frequently Asked Questions and Services.

2. Research

Migration history is both a prominent part of Global Labour History as well as crucial element of Global Economic History. The study of Global Labour History would be unthinkable without the unfree migration (slavery, indentured labour, forced migration, military migration), seasonal migration and so on. In the study of Global Economic History migration movements play an important role alongside other demographic factors.
To fully understand the causes and effects of migration and settlement processes in the current globalising world, a long timeframe and a global perspective are essential. Historical migration studies have long focused primarily on the European and Atlantic worlds. Since 2005 in a programmatic and long term project, the IISH aims to broaden the perspective to include the full migration experience of the non-Western world while proposing both a short and long term series of studies to further this goal. To this end the IISH in collaboration with the history department of the University of Leiden has launched the Global Migration History Programme

IISH members of the research department involved in migration history are:
Ulbe Bosma
Annemarie Cottaar
Gijs Kessler
Jan Lucassen

3. Metasources

For datasets on migration history within the IISH the following categories can be discerned: a. Migrant organisations; b. Migratory data and trajectories of individuals; c. Visual sources or images, d. Migration digital documents, e. Migration Figures and Statistics, and f. The IISH hosts a number of portals. Under these headings the following databases are accessible at present or will be available in the near future:

a. Migrant organisations
The CGM database Migrant Organizations in the Netherlands (text in Dutch) contains more than 7000 organizations'. They can be searched on line.

b. Migratory data and trajectories of individuals
• Data and publications on seasonal brickmakers from the German principality of Lippe-Detmold from the late seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. See 'Lippische Ziegler', a web presentation of archival documents, data derived from these documents and background information.
• European Migration to the Netherlands East Indies (text in Dutch). Data on immigration and settlement of European immigrants from 1819 to 1875.

c. Visual sources and Images
The Historical Migrants Imagery (Historisch Beeldarchief Archief Migranten) collects and digitizes images from private collections belonging to immigrants who come to the Netherlands over the past hundred years.

d. Migration digital documents
Hollandgang im Spiegel der Reiseberichte evangelischer Geistlicher. Quellen zur saisonalen Arbeidswanderung in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Geschichtliche Arbeiten zur westfälischen Landesforschung. Wirtschafts- und sozialgeschichtliche Gruppe 17. Herausgegeben von Albin Gladen, Antje Kraus, Piet Lourens, Jan Lucassen, Peter Schram, Helmut Talazko, Gerda van Asselt. 2 Teilen (Münster: Aschendorff, 2007).
This source contains 129 journey reports by travelling ministers of the German Protestant Church, who provided spiritual care and assistance to parishioners from their home regions who worked in the Netherlands as seasonal migrant labourers. The letters cover the period 1849-1893.
Hollandgang im Spiegel... Teil I, 594 pp. (.pdf, 3 Mb)
Hollandgang im Spiegel... Teil II, 665 pp. (.pdf, 7.3 Mb)

e. Migration Figures and Statistics
Jan Lucassen and Leo Lucassen, The mobility transition in Europe revisited, 1500-1900: Sources and methods (2010, IISH Research paper no. 46, PDF file, 129pp., 1020Kb), belonging to the article, 'Mobility Transition Revisited, 1500-1900. What the Case of Europe Can Offer to Global History'. (Journal of Global Labour History, 2009,4)

f. Portals
See the Collaboratories in Social and Economic History, hosted by the IISH