Datasets – Guilds – The Netherlands – Journeymen’s Boxes

Sandra Bos collected the data for the ‘Boxes’-database. Two sources form the main foundation: the results of H.G. Schuddebeurs, ‘Documentatiecollectie betreffende het verzekeringswezen’ (Nederlands Economisch Historisch Archief, Amsterdam (NEHA) Bijzondere collecties, 404) and the 1812 questionnaire ‘Caisses de secours et de prévoyance’. Final additions to these data were made through archive and literature research.

In collecting the data, Bos received help from Nico Slokker, who wrote his MA thesis on sickness benefitboxes in the Netherlands between 1812 and 1930 (see Slokker, 1992). The ‘Boxes’-dataset counts 698 organizations, including guild boxes, town worker journeymen’s boxes, bootsgezellenbeurzen, professional but non-guild-boxes and general boxes. Mutual aid funds established after 1820 were categorized into the data files ‘Arbver’ and ‘Algver’ made by Joost van Genabeek (for these files see his dissertation, van Genabeek, 1999).

The original database has been altered in a few significant ways. First of all, the database is now an Access file, but was originally composed in dBase IV. It has been restructured and subdivided into the four different tables discussed above. Several columns which were previously encoded have all been substituted by text, making the database more transparent. A very minor loss of information occurred in this translation, because not all details of the original codes were found.

Secondly, and slightly more problematic, is that not all sources could be recovered. The great majority of the boxes have references in the source field of the ‘Main Table’ or the ‘Analyzed remarks’ table, but for some this information could not be found (Bos did not originally compose this database for public use. For Bos some sources may be evident, or she received box information from other scholars who were more knowledgeable about a certain source (such as Slokker or Van Genabeek). The large time gap between publishing the dissertation and publicizing the dataset caused problems for retracing these seemingly evident and collaboratory sources).

Thirdly, for good reason some records were removed, either because they were registered in twofold or because they did not fit within our definition of a mutual aid fund established between 1500 and 1820. An example: we have removed a box from Brielle called ‘Onderlinge assurantie’. This box provided transport insurance for cargo, not people. This makes it fall outside our definition of a mutual aid fund. The 706 organizations have thus been brought back to 698.

Lastly, the dissertation ‘”Uyt Liefde tot Malcander”‘ was published in 1998, and the data collection took place in the four preceding years. We have made no structural additions on the basis of recent literature, leaving room for the dataset to be updated. Only some small additions were made, resolving a few ambiguities in the data, but minor uncertainties can still be found in the dataset. Question marks and the use of the term ‘mogelijk’ (possibly) indicate that this information should be used with caution. However, source references provide the possibility for the scholar to go back the sources and find out for themselves if the uncertainty can be solved.

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