09/20/2023, 18.10
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Church archives in Indonesia and the Netherlands to be digitised to help historical studies

by Mathias Hariyadi

Semarang’s Catholic university hosts a workshop dedicated to preserving bits of Indonesia’s history, locked up in the archives of Dutch missionary institutes and local Catholic organisations.


Semarang (AsiaNews) – Soegijapranata Catholic University in Semarang (Central Java) hosted a two-day workshop on Church archives, their digitisation, and their use as historical sources.

In cooperation with Radboud University in Nijmegen (Netherlands), the seminar focused on “preserving the legacy of Catholic documentation in Indonesia”. The Dutch establishment is currently working on the archives of Dutch missionary congregations engaged in the apostolate in Indonesia.

Prof Marit Monteiro, of Radboud University, highlighted the archives’ great potential for historical research, stressing the urgency of preserving the documents of religious institutes in Indonesia.

This work is already underway through digitisation, Dr Maaike Derksen explained. Once completed, it will have mapped, preserved, and made accessible Catholic collections currently scattered in different places.

“Accessible means that inventories (and documents) can be shared by owners, individuals, as well as made available for international research and education,” Dr Derksen said.

Working with Indonesian partners, the digitisation of thousands of documents involves four religious institutes: the Indonesian Jesuit province, the Karangpanas orphanage in Semarang, the Vincentius orphanage in Jakarta, and the Brothers of the Immaculate Conception in Semarang.

Opening the seminar, Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang said that under Canon Law, the Church has two different types of archives: those open to the public and the secret archive, which can be consulted if authorised by bishops.

Fr Budi Subanar SJ hopes the Department of History at Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta will be able to make the best use of the archives. Thousands of documents in Indonesia and in the Netherlands are still “untouched” and could provide material to research and publications.

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