Between 1595 and 1795 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and its predecessors before 1602 equipped more than 4,700 ships to sail from the shores of the Netherlands bound for Asia. More than 3,400 ships made the return voyage home. The reference work Dutch-Asiatic Shipping has classified these voyages on which Dutch trade between Europe and Asia was founded in a systematic survey.
Records were kept of the key aspects of every voyage: ship's name; captain's name; ship's tonnage; year and shipyard in which the ship was built; the VOC chamber on behalf of which the ship was transporting merchandise; departure dates, any stopovers the ship made on the journey (on the Cape of Good Hope) and its arrival date; crew (divided into different categories); value of the return load and any unusual incidents that occurred during the voyage, such as a mutiny or shipwreck; and, the name of the commander of the homeward bound fleet.
This material was on of the most difficult data conversion projects we have done. The only available source material consisted of 2 volumes containing tabular data that was printed over two different pages. OCR software gave some results, but they needed a lot of re-interpretation, that could only partially be done automatically. In the end, we managed to create a clean and usable database that is one of the most popular parts of the site of the Institute of Dutch History.
The website is here