De Armen-Inrigting "Toevlugt voor Behoeftigen" te Amsterdam, ca. 1850, Stadsarchief Amsterdam
De Armen-Inrigting "Toevlugt voor Behoeftigen" te Amsterdam, ca. 1850, Stadsarchief Amsterdam

The 1845–1848 Famine in Flanders and the Netherlands

Educational Legacies and Strategies
2020 until 2025
Project member(s)
Prof. L.E. Jensen (Lotte)
Project type

When the potato blight that affected Europe in 1845 is mentioned, most people automatically think of Ireland’s catastrophe. However, the disease affected other European areas as well, including the Netherlands and Flanders. The loss of 75 per cent of the potato crops in the Netherlands, and successive failures of rye harvests in the two following years, led to widespread destitution and a mortality rate of around 53,000 deaths. Bread riots took place in famine-afflicted provinces such as Groningen in 1847.

Even if the vulnerability of rural communities in Flanders was lower than in Ireland, it constituted one of the most severely affected areas on the European continent as it lost between 20 and 30 per cent of its population (Ó Gráda, Paping & Vanhaute 2007). Famine crisis management through locally organised relief operations was high on the agenda (Vanhaute & Lambrecht 2011).

While the 1845 famines had serious demographic effects in both the Netherlands and Flanders, these heritages of hunger feature less prominently than their Irish or Scottish counterparts. Why is that the case? This project, conducted by Prof. Lotte Jensen, investigates this question, as well as how these famine legacies have been transmitted by museums, school curricula, and commemorative practices in the past and present. Specific attention will be paid to the interaction between regional and (trans)national educational practices.

This research project is one of seven subprojects of Heritages of Hunger



The project is supported by a board of hunger experts and partners from the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Ireland, UK, Ukraine, Russian & Canada. These are: Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam; Museum Rotterdam; Red Star Line Museum, Antwerpen; EUROCLIO; Irish Heritage Trust, Dublin; Nerve Centre Derry; Kuopio Cultural History Museum; Werstas Labour Museum; Universiteit van Granada; Centro Documental de la Memoria Historica, Salamanca; Nederlands Instituut in Sint-Petersburg; Holodomor Research and Education Centre, Kiev; Ireland Park Foundation, Toronto; Holodomor Research and Education Consortium, Toronto.

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