Transvaal in Leiden
Who makes history?
Leiden University, Faculty of Humanities
History is out in the streets. You just have to see it. An overgrown bunker. A flat called ‘Bloemlust’. A tin can of green beans. Colonial street names. A railroad cutting the neighborhood in two. In the project entitled Who Makes History in Transvaal?, students and residents, together with historians Ariadne Schmidt and Alicia Schrikker, went on a search for traces of history in the neighborhood, going through the stories told by residents and the archives of Erfgoed Leiden.
A lot has changed in the past 150 years. A part of Oegstgeest joined the city of Leiden. Country estates changed into swimming pools, factories or student clubs. Horticultural land had to make way for worker’s houses. Factories changed into social housing projects. The beans and candy that used to bring along ‘the flavor of home’ to the Dutch Indies, disappeared from the neighborhood. Shops came and went. This project captures the transformations of this diverse neighborhood, showing that it is constantly changing. The participating students have unraveled remarkable stories about local and colonial history and show how these histories are intertwined. The Transvaal neighborhood in Leiden thus proves to be a miniature laboratory for historians, offering insights in both the larger and smaller historical processes that keep on creating new possibilities and challenges for our society.