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

Doing Sums

30 November 1694

An ambitious student named Hendrick Swaen started a new arithmetic exercise book on 30 November 1694. On the front page Hendrick drew childlike sketches of swans around his name. His sums are meticulously noted down.
Hendrick worked according to the instructions of Willem Bartjens, published in The New Arithmetic that appeared in 1607. 'Doing sums according to Bartjens' is still apocryphal in Holland. After addition and subtraction, division and multiplication came numerical problems. In February 1695 the exercise book was complete and Hendricks self esteem was raised to the square. On the last page of the exercise book little Hendrick signed in an adult fashion as 'Hendricus'.