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In January, a group of 15 AUC students led by VU lecturer Dr. Edwina Hagen undertook a four-week exploration of the Holland Land Company Archives at the Amsterdam City Archives as part of the course History Lab. The goal was to provide students with practical experience in historical research methods and better understanding the colonial past of the City of Amsterdam.

Better understanding historical research

Coordinated by Dr. Edwina Hagen, History Lab is a course designed to familiarise students with methods used in historical study. Emphasising the importance of primary sources, the course covers archival documents, quantitative data, and a toolkit many historians use for documentation and interpretation.

Workshops on Transkribus and archival techniques

During the January 2024 edition of History Lab, students participated in workshops focused largely on archival techniques. These sessions primarily used Transkribus, a tool for converting manuscripts into typed text, and honing skills in working with archive inventories, personal indexes and historical maps.

Digitising and uncovering stories in Holland Land Company Archives

Students in the course used the archives of the Holland Land Company as their area of investigation. Founded in 1795, the Holland Land Company is well-known for facilitating land transactions in the United States by Amsterdam residents in the late 1700s and early 1800s (including the New York City area). The objective was to make the archive more accessible by uncovering unique stories and digitising key sections of important documents.

Presenting their findings at the Amsterdam City Archives

The course concluded with a presentation at the Amsterdam City Archives in early February where students shared their findings. The stories and digitised materials will be published on the Amsterdam City Archives website to help contribute to the broader accessibility of historical records.

Dr. Edwina Hagen would like to commend the students for their dedication and collaborative effort toward enhancing the accessibility of these archives. History Lab is an example of how courses at AUC can provide students with practical and immersive learning experiences in (historical) research.