Explanation of the fields on the index

Field name (Dutch) Field name (translated) Explanatory note
Contractnummer Contract number Contract numbers are the official identification codes of immigrants in Suriname. They are recorded as such in the registers of Civil Registration. The code consists of one or two letters and a number. The letter refers to the year in which the ship with the immigrant in question arrived in Suriname. The numbering starts in the year 1872. In that year a treaty with England took effect, regulating the emigration of free workers from the British East Indies to Suriname.  According to colonial legislation of that year, immigrants of a certain nationality must be listed under a consecutive serial number. Each year is given a letter, ascending from A to Z and then from Aa to Ss. The immigrants of 1873 are numbered B/1 through B/2541; those of 1874 are numbered C/1 through C/1413, etc. Since immigration from India occurred during the period 1873-1916, the letters for the Hindu immigrants run from B (1873) to Ss (1916). However, Hindustani immigrants arrived in Suriname before 1873. From May 1868 to 1873, more than one hundred British-Indian immigrants were brought in from Barbados, St. Lucia, Demerara, and Berbice for work on the plantations. These immigrants are also included in the index. They can be distinguished by the letter W by the contract number (example: W/123). Finally, the index also includes free immigrants from the British East Indies. They arrived as passengers on the immigration ships and received no contract number. The free immigrants from British Guiana, who are not yet included in the index, received a contract number starting with the letters VR. For a list of the existing contract numbers and the gaps in them, please consult the ship list. There you will also find  the arrival date for each ship.
Achternaam Name In fact, this was originally a first name, at least for men. Later, when the immigrants were allowed to list a family name or surname, the first name was recorded as the family name by default. This name was often spelled differently from the way it was originally recorded in the immigration register. Hosenkhan later chose the family name Hassankhan, Babu Ram became Baboeram. Female immigrants sometimes listed their father's or husband's name as their family name.
Voornamen First names The name of the immigrant's father. Later the field was used to register the first name (for men).
Geslacht Gender Male or female.
Godsdienst of kaste Religion or caste For religion, initially 'hindoe' (Hindu) or mohammedaan/muzelman/mosulman (Muslim) was listed. Later, Hindus began to report caste instead of religion. Sometimes Muslims also reported 'shaik' as caste, which is not correct.
Leeftijd Age This indicates the age on arrival in Suriname. This was usually expressed in years. For babies the age was also given in months. When entering the index the age in months was sometimes converted to the age in years, for example: 1 year and six months = 1.5 years.
Huidskleur Skin colour Skin colour.
Lengte Height Often indicated in milimeters.
Herkenningstekens Distinguishing marks Scars or other physical specifics
Geboren Born In addition to immigrants born in the British Indies, there are those born in Jamaica, Natal or Fiji.
District District To indicate the last place of residence of the immigrant three designations are used: district (zilla), police station (thana) and village (gaun). Before April 1, 1886, instead of the term thana, the term pergunnah (= pargana, part of a district) is used.
Politiepost Police station To indicate the last place of residence of the immigrant three designations are used: district (zilla), police station (thana) and village (gaun). Before April 1, 1886, instead of the term thana, the term pergunnah (= pargana, part of a district) is used.
Dorp Village To indicate the last place of residence of the immigrant three designations are used: district (zilla), police station (thana) and village (gaun). Before April 1, 1886, instead of the term thana, the term pergunnah (= pargana, part of a district) is used.
Beroep Occupation Until 1882, field or factory worker was always listed under occupation. Thereafter, occupation was not listed probably because all immigrants from the British East Indies were recruited for field or factory work
Kinderen Children Indicates with Yes or No whether the memo field mentions children born in Suriname.
Scheepsnaam Ship name The ship with which the immigrants arrived in Suriname
Monsternummer Muster number This was the number with which an immigrant was registered on the muster-roll of the ship, on which he or she departed from India. This number was an identification number, given by the emigration agent in Calcutta. The muster number differs from the contract number because immigrants were not registered in Suriname in the same order as they had departed from India. The muster number is important if you would like to search for data in Indian archives. In that case you need the muster number and the name of the ship (plus year of departure).
Wervingsinstantie Recruiting authority The entity that commissioned the contractor and entered into the contract with the worker.
Afreisplaats Departure place This was Calcutta.
Afreisdatum Departure date Date of departure from India.
Aankomstplaats Arrival place In all instances this was Paramaribo, although legally Nickerie was also a potential place of arrival.
Aankomstdatum Arrival date Date of arrival in Suriname.
Planter Planter The name of the planter where the contracter was employed.
Plantage Plantation The name (and location) of the plantation on which the contractor was employed.
Begindatum Start date of contract Start date of the (first) contract. The contract started on the day of arrival in Suriname. Some contractors renewed their contract. The duration of the re-contracts varied from one to five years. The re-contracts were listed in the register. The index includes the dates of up to three re-contracts. There were cases of four re-contractions. In that case, the information has been included in the memo field.
Einddatum contract Contract end date End date of the (first) contract.
Vertrokken of overleden Departed or deceased The registers indicate whether the contractor had died or departed. When nothing was listed, it means that the immigrant was still alive during the period the register was kept.
Familierelatie Family relation If a contractor was related to another contractor, the type of relationship and the contract number of the family member were listed. The family relationships listed were: father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, nephew, niece, and uncle.
Verzetsactiviteiten Resistance activity Remarks about resistance activitities during their time as contract laborers.
Memo-veld Memo field Here various details were noted about the immigrant's fate after arrival in the colony: marriage, death, re-contract, return, date of the certificate of discharge, absenteeism, crimes and punishments. In many cases, especially among women, notes were also made of children and even grandchildren born in Suriname. We also find data on surnames and name changes. Finally, important is the information on the plots of land that came in the possession of immigrants.
The data on absenteeism from work and matters relating to violations and punishments are sometimes also included in the 'resistance activity' field. The information in this field is not standardized and is far from complete. Information on marriages and births can be found at the Centraal Bureau voor Burgerzaken, the civil registry.

List of abbreviations used in the index

Abbreviation Dutch term Translation
A.G. akte van - Agent Generaal Record of the Agent General
afg. / ag. Afgestaan relinquished
B.G. / Br. G. Brits Guyana British Guiana
Ben. Beneden Lower
Ben. Para. Beneden Para (een district) Lower Para (a district)
besch. Beschikking Decree
besch. gouv. beschikking van de Gouverneur decree of the Governor
c. Contract Contract
C.V.O. / CVO Certificaat van ontslag Certificate of discharge
cert. Certificaat Certificate
Comm. Comm.; Commissaris of Commewijne Comm.: either ‘commissioner’ or ‘Commewijne’ district.
CV Contractverlenging Contract renewal
(D.) Dochter daughter
d/v dochter van daughter of
DC District Commissaris District Commission
dupl. duplicaat/afschrift (van certificaat van ontslag) duplicate/copy (of certificate of discharge)
echte echtgenote Wife
fol. folio (blad) folio (sheet)
G.B. Gouvernements Blad Government Gazette
G.R. / GR Gouvernementsresolutie Government Resolution
geb. geboren Born
gebr. gebruik Use
gec. werkv. geconstateerd werkverzuim observed absenteeism
geh. gehuwd Married
gen. genaamd Named
gerec. / gerecon gerecontracteerd re-contracted
gesl. gesloten Closed
gesl. naam geslachtsnaam Surname
gev. str. gevangenisstraf imprisonment
Gouv. / Gr Gouverneur/Gouvernement Governor/Government
gr. grond Ground
herc. hercontract re-contract
HvJ Hof van Justitie Court of Justice
Ifonds / im. fonds Immigratiefonds Immigration Fund
ingetr. ingetrokken Withdrawn
j jongen Boy
kol. kas / Kolkas koloniale kas colonial cash
m meisje Girl
M.H. militair hospital millitary hospital
m/v moeder van mother of
mnl. mannelijk Male
Nw. Nieuw New
overgen. overgenomen Acquired
Par'bo / parbo Paramaribo Paramaribo
perc. perceel parcel/plot
pl. perceel Plantation
Pr. fonds Premie uit Immigratiefonds Premium from Immigration Fund
Re resolutie Resolution
reg. register Register
reg.n.v. / N.V. register van naamsverandering register of name change
Res. / res resolutie Resolution
SS stoomschip Steamship
tripl. triplicaat (tweede afschrift) triplicate (second copy)
voorn. voornaam first name
vw.c. voorwaardelijk contract conditional contract
(Z.) zoon Son
z/v zoon van son of


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