Archief ANA
Archief ANA

History of slavery on Aruba and St. Eustasius online

Island communities such as Aruba and St. Eustasius were hit hard by slavery. This is apparent from the databases Aruba: slavernij en emancipatie, 1840–1863 (Aruba: slavery and emancipation, 1840–1863) and Sint Eustatius. Borderellen en emancipatieregister, 1862–1863 (St. Eustasius. Slave owner registers and emancipation register, 1862–1863), as published on the websites of the Archivo Nacional Aruba (ANA) and the Dutch National Archives in The Hague on 29 June. Using the databases, citizens can now conduct their own research into slavery on Aruba and St. Eustasius, for instance by searching for the surnames given to their ancestors after the Dutch Abolition of Slavery in 1863.

Aruba: slavery and emancipation, 18401863

In the database Aruba: slavery and emancipation, 1840–1863, the enslaved population of Aruba can be traced over the final 25 years of slavery on the island, until the Dutch Abolition of Slavery in 1863. This population amounted to around 1,000 people, of whom 450 were liberated in 1863 (one fifth of the Aruban population). To create the database, a broad range of archival sources were used, including the emancipation register from 1863, slave owner registers, registers of the births and deaths of enslaved people, petitions and notarial instruments featuring information on the purchase, sale and manumissions of enslaved people.

Database Aruba
Database Aruba

St. Eustasius. Slave owner registers and emancipation register, 1862–1863

The database St. Eustasius. Slave owner registers and emancipation register, 1862–1863 is an overview of every person who lived under and was liberated from slavery in its final year on the island. The database includes around 1,200 people; over two-thirds of the population of St. Eustasius at that time. The information that can be found in the database includes first names, the surnames given in 1863, family trees, professions, religions and the names of slave owners and plantations. The database is based on the slave owner registers (lists of people per slave owner) and the emancipation register of St. Eustasius.

Background of both databases

The publication of the dataset on Aruba was an initiative of ANA Director Raymond Hernandez and Coen van Galen of Radboud University/Historical Database Suriname Curaçao (HDSC). The execution of the project lay in the hands of Rosa M. Arends (ANA) and Wouter Raaijmakers and Matthias Rosenbaum-Feldbrügge (HDSC), with advice from Edric Croes and Johny van Eerden (ANA) and Peter Scholing (Biblioteca Nacional Aruba). The publication of the dataset on St. Eustasius was a joint initiative of Nadine Busby-De Graf (Census Office, Oranjestad), Johan van Langen (Dutch National Archives) and Coen van Galen, and was executed by Wouter Raaijmakers and Coen van Galen (HDSC). The Historical Database Suriname Curaçao previously published the slave registers of Suriname (in 2018-19), the slave and emancipation registers of Curaçao (in 2020) and the Suriname Civil Registry (as from 2023).

The databases can be found on:

Website Nationaal Archief: Index St. Eustatius

Website Nationaal Archief: Index Aruba

Archivo Nacional Aruba

More information on the Historical Database Suriname and the Caribbean:

Contact information

For more information, please contact Coen van Galen via coen.vangalen [at] (coen[dot]vangalen[at]ru[dot]nl) or Team Science Communication via 024 361 6000 or media [at] (media[at]ru[dot]nl)