Researching Slave Trade in the Archives of the MCC

The archives of the Middelburg Commerce Company are a great resource for anyone who’s researching transatlantic slave trade in the 18th century. These archives are also an excellent source of information for other maritime research topics, such as shipbuilding, trading goods, shipping companies to European destinations, and international networks.

All archives of the Middelburg Commerce Company (MCC) have been fully digitized. You’ll find these scans beneath the descriptions in the archives inventory.

Archives of the MCC

Open the archives inventory and choose Inventaris (Inventary). Please note: the inventory is in Dutch.

www.zeeuwsarchief.nl

The inventory is structured as follows:

  1. Algemeen bestuur (General management) – includes minutes of meetings, correspondence
  2. Het bedrijf (Company) – includes travel administration of triangular voyages, etc.
  3. De boekhouding (Accountancy) – includes issued shares, accounting
  4. Kaarten  (Maps) – descriptions of nautical charts once owned by the MCC
  5. Overige (Other)

Not in the archives

What cannot be found in the archives? The archives of the MCC are basically financial records, which means they are primarily an account of incurred costs. As such, the voices of the enslaved Africans are lacking. Names and other personal details of enslaved Africans were not registered. Documented are the circumstances in which they were transported, the situation on board the ships and the details of the sales of the enslaved Africans, including the names of the buyers and/or the plantations.

About the MCC

The MCC was founded in 1720. In 1732 the first ship set sail for a triangular voyage. After 1755, the company focused nearly exclusively on the transatlantic slave trade. The last slave journey was equipped in 1802, but would not be completed. Due to the Fourth English War and the Napoleonic wars, trade was initially severely hampered, and finally made impossible. The abolitionists gained ground and in 1814 the Netherlands also abolished the slave trade. The MCC then focused on the construction of ships for third parties. The company was officially terminated in 1889.

Archives of the MCC

In the second half of the 18th century, the Middelburg Commerce Company (MCC) focused on the triangular trade between Middelburg, the coast of West Africa and the Caribbean. This form of human trafficking, where Africans were sold in the Caribbean, is referred to as triangular trade or transatlantic slave trade. The archives of the MCC have been preserved. As they form a unique source of information, they were placed on UNESCO’s world heritage list for documentary works, in the Memory of the World Register.