Dutch Slavery Tax Suriname website live – 11-4-2019

At the end of 2018 researcher and publicist Nizaar Makdoembaks announced the launch of a new public database on the slavery history of Suriname in the spring of 2019. As of April 11th 2019 this database is available online on the Dutch Slavery Tax Suriname website.

The project concerns the digital processing of the Generale Lijsten der Hoofdgelden (plantation tax per capita) for 1693 to 1733. These are annual tax records providing the number of enslaved people for each plantation owner. Through meticulous research as many plantations as possible were linked to these owners.

The database comprises 40 years of Suriname’s early slavery history. In the announcement a possible 50 years was mentioned but some years of the additional period 1734-1743 could not (yet) be found in the archives.

Because this tax record is known among scholars for its unreliability, the database comes with a number of corrections and additional (imputed) numbers. Amongst others these are the estimates for death rate (which include a factor for the enslaved that fled the plantations each year) and for erroneous declaration or recording. These imputed data are provided alongside the primary data from the tax records, so as to not meddle with the latter and provide every interested party with the option to make its own calculations and estimates.

This website also provides a set of finding aids, as well as information about the tax record and the choices and calculations made as the database was being created.

At first the database is provided as a download on a Dutch language website. Later this spring a search engine will be added to the website and at that time it will also be fully available in English.

With the launch of this website and database researchers and scholars around the world have gained a valuable source for new entry points on the history of early slavery in Suriname.