The history of migrants and their organizations and the history of labor migration have recently become a major research theme at the IISH. There is a lot of common ground with IISH's 'core business', Global Labour History. For instance, most people migrate because they hope to find work elsewhere, or because they are sent to another part of the world by their employer (from soldiers to expats). Furthermore, all these migrants have all sorts of relations: from slave to diplomat and all gradations in between.
How those relations, and the closely related social inequality, develop, depends heavily on the type of migration. IISH is developingh a Cross Cultural Migration Rates (CCMR) method, which enables us to measure global migrations in a systematic and uniform way and we currently aim to think more systematically about the relationship between labour relations and migration.
Collections at the Institute, including those from long ago, offer many directions for further research, which can be found in the specific archives of migrants and their organizations. But also in more general archives such as the Labour and Socialist International and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which also include files about migrants of various nationalities. The oldest collection that is completely devoted to the migration theme is the archive of the Duchobory, Russian peace activists who emigrated to Canada at the end of the 19th century.
The majority of the migrant organization archives deals with the Netherlands, and the text materials are mainly in Dutch. The archives of Turkish organizations in the Netherlands are the largest.
In addition to this, the IISH houses various initiatives in the field of Dutch migration history:
- The Historisch Beeldarchief Migranten [Historical Image Archive of Migrants] collects and digitizes images from private collections belonging to immigrants who have come to the Netherlands in the past hundred years.
- The Centrum voor de Geschiedenis van Migranten [Center for the History of Migrants] stimulates research on the arrival and settlement of immigrants by tracing sources related to their history and making them accessible via a portal website www.vijfeeuwenmigratie.nl.
- The database Postkoloniale Migrantenorganisaties in Nederland [Organizations of Post-colonial Migrants in the Netherlands] includes 2600 organizations established by immigrants from the former colonies of the Netherlands. They can be searched on line.
A list of collections from immigrants and their organizations outside the Netherlands is presented here (2008). A list of collections of immigrants based in the Netherlands (in Dutch) is available as well.
Additional information is to be found in Survey of the Archival Sources concerning Migration and Settlement held at the IISH (.pdf, 580 Kb) / Sander Vis, Research Paper IISH 16, 1995