Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Provo and chronicler of the Sixties Movement in Amsterdam

The IISH owns a large collection on the sixties and seventies in Amsterdam: Provo, Roel van Duijn, Robert Jasper Grootveld, various riots and confrontations with the police during the marriage of Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus (1966), the demolition of houses because of the underground (1975) and the coronation of Queen Beatrix (1980). Much information can be found in the archives of Provo and Roel van Duijn and in the Documentation of Social Movements (CSD) collection.

Recently the IISH received a substantial supplement to the papers of the former Provo Peter Bronkhorst.  Bronkhorst, born in 1946 in Amsterdam, the city where he also died in 2007, was a typographer and active in the Amsterdam section of the PSJW, a youth organization closely related to the Pacifist Socialist Party (PSP). But Bronkhorst really blossomed when the Provo phenomenon started.
The Bronkhorst papers consist largely of photos and scrapbooks he and his father made. Bronkhorst probably photographed on his own, and he covered the center of Amsterdam. The albums contain many small snapshots (9 by 9 cm.). There are many pictures of well-known happenings near the statue Het Lieverdje on the Spui and the corner of the U.S. Consulate on the Museumplein, as well as of less famous events including a meeting on the barge Roma, headquarters of the Provo movement, where the decision was made to paint some dark benches white. Most pictures are in black and white.

A small series of color pictures of the facade of a row of houses with party flags shows how Provo Bronkhorst, living with his parents on the Derde Kostverlorenkade, in the run up to the municipal elections competed with his neighbour upstairs who made propaganda for the Dutch Communist Party (CPN). Provo won one seat in the town council.

Apart from the pictures, the papers also contain correspondence. Remarkable is that this correspondence in many cases was written by H. Bronkhorst, the father of Provo Peter. Bronkhorst senior complained to the mayor of Amsterdam about the actions of the police in the Vondelpark on Sunday,  October 15, 1967. According to Bronkhorst, the head inspector of police said “Beat them out of the park.” Mayor Ivo Samkalden answered Bronkhorst in a personal letter and tried to refute his arguments one by one.
Later on the father had supervision of his son’s papers. Most documents got a nice pink-red stamp “Bronkhorst Kollektie – Provo Archief.” The pictures and other documents from the period 1966-1968, now acquired by the IISH, were a long time in possession of Bronkhorst senior, who transferred them to the Amsterdam typographer, printer, activist and collector Steef Davidson (1943-2010).

After his Provo years, Peter Bronkhorst led a difficult life. He had a family and started a small window cleaning company, and at the same time struggled with addictions. On the Saturday before his death, he was photographed together with Simon Vinkenoog during a Save the Mushrooms demonstration on the Dam in Amsterdam.

26 November 2013