Datasets – Waterboards – The Netherlands

Van Tielhof revised part of the database, wrote texts on sources, research topics and debates, created a glossary and expanded the bibliography. The bibliography now holds not only archive inventories but also a selection of books and articles on Dutch waterboards relevant for the theme of corporate collective action.

The database itself was revised and expanded in three ways. Firstly, those records have been identified and marked that did not indicate a waterboard, but rather a community, or that were simply a double entry. Certain communities and double entries were removed. Communities were, and are still, included in the database when they were the legal predecessor or successor of a waterboard. An important goal of the original database was to highlight the affiliations of waterboards and thus create a kind of family tree. For the same reason some waterboards have been entered two or even more times: e.g. when one was a forerunner of more than one waterboard. The communities and the double entries have been marked as such, to enable users to remove them easily, if they so desire. In the Giebels-Streefkerk-database alternative names were also often entered as separate records with their own ID, but those records have been removed permanently. Name variants have been added to the correct waterboard in a new field: ‘also known as’.

Secondly, information about the size and accessibility of archives has been removed. The size of many archives of waterboards is determined by documents from the twentieth century, when the waterboards were public organisations. From the perspective of Corporate Collective Action the size of most archives is therefore irrelevant. The same applies to accessibility. Almost all archives of waterboards are freely accessible, with the lone exception of very recent documents.

Thirdly, the data of a selection of the waterboards have been checked and expanded. The selection consisted of three regions for which it was known that waterboards functioned relatively early. The regions are located in different parts of the low-lying half of the Netherlands, in the provinces Zeeland, South Holland and Utrecht. They are the isles in Zeeland, the territory of the hoogheemraadschap (regional waterboard) van Delfland and the territory of the regional waterboard Waterschap Vallei & Eem.

Most of the variables have been checked and corrected if needed. These were: name of the waterboard; postal code; location; year the waterboard was founded or first mentioned in the sources; year the waterboard was dissolved or last mentioned in the sources; period for which archival documents are available; name and location of the archive where the documents are kept; availability of an inventory; and the title, author and year of publication of the inventory. In dozens of cases a foundation year could be added, where the original database did not have one. The location was often changed as well. In the original database it was frequently a global indication (a big town nearby) while we decided to localise as precisely as possible by naming villages or small towns. The data on archives had to be changed often. Between 1990 and 2010 many new inventories had been made. Also, nearly all inventories of the three regions were accessible online, something that was not the case around 1990. Many archives have been relocated during the last 20 years as a result of mergers or because waterboards chose to relocate their archives to public archives.

Some new variables were added: region (Delfland, Vallei & Eem or one of the isles in Zeeland), type of waterboard (land reclamation, polder, regional waterboard etc.), cadastral surface (in hectares and in other measure), taxable surface (in hectares and in other measure), remarks on begin and end years, and availability of two kinds of serial sources (accounts and resolutions). The last two variables have been added to find out more about the institutional development of the waterboard. Since when were expenses regularly made? Since when did the waterboard hold meetings regularly? All variables are further clarified in the Description of the database.

Neglected was the variable ‘number’. This was an important variable in the Giebels-Streefkerk database, because the numbers revealed how the old waterboards had merged into larger entities. The legal precursors and successors were numerically related showing the affiliation of waterboards. The assignment of numeric character sets was a labour intensive task. We maintained the numbers in the database but did not update them. The many mergers after 1990 would have necessitated a complete revision of the numeration system, which would have taken much time and was irrelevant for our research programme. So the original data have remained unaltered in the field: ‘number: situation 1990’.

Thanks to recent archive inventories dozens of new waterboards were found, which had never been included in the Giebels-Streefkerk database. Most of them were waterboards that had not left behind their own archives, but were mentioned in the archive inventories of other waterboards as their forerunners.

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