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

Migration History

Sloveense migrantenMigration history is both a prominent part of Global Labour History as well as crucial element of Global Economic History. The study of Global Labour History would be unthinkable without the unfree migration (slavery, indentured labour, forced migration, military migration), seasonal migration and so on. In the study of Global Economic History migration movements play an important role alongside other demographic factors.

To fully understand the causes and effects of migration and settlement processes in the current globalising world, a long timeframe and a global perspective are essential. Historical migration studies have long focused primarily on the European and Atlantic worlds. Since 2005 in a programmatic and long term project, the IISH aims to broaden the perspective to include the full migration experience of the non-Western world while proposing both a short and long term series of studies to further this goal. To this end the IISH in collaboration with the history department of the University of Leiden has launched the Global Migration History Programme. See also the current Global Migration History projects.

IISH members of the research department involved in migration history are:


For collections on migration and migrants, go to Migration History Collections Guide.

For datasets on migration history within the IISH the following categories can be discerned: a. Migrant organisations; b. Migratory data and trajectories of individuals; c. Visual sources or images, d. Migration digital documents, e. Migration Figures and Statistics, and f.  The IISH hosts a number of portals. Under these headings the following databases are accessible at present or will be available in the near future:

a. Migrant organisations
The CGM database Migrant Organizations in the Netherlands (text in Dutch) contains more than 7000 organizations'. They can be searched on line.

b. Migratory data and trajectories of individuals

c. Visual sources and Images
The Historical Migrants Imagery (Historisch Beeldarchief Archief Migranten) collects and digitizes images from private collections belonging to immigrants who come to the Netherlands over the past hundred years.

d. Migration digital documents
Hollandgang im Spiegel der Reiseberichte evangelischer Geistlicher. Quellen zur saisonalen Arbeidswanderung in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Geschichtliche Arbeiten zur westfälischen Landesforschung. Wirtschafts- und sozialgeschichtliche Gruppe 17. Herausgegeben von Albin Gladen, Antje Kraus, Piet Lourens, Jan Lucassen, Peter Schram, Helmut Talazko, Gerda van Asselt. 2 Teilen (Münster: Aschendorff, 2007).
This source contains 129 journey reports by travelling ministers of the German Protestant Church, who provided spiritual care and assistance to parishioners from their home regions who worked in the Netherlands as seasonal migrant labourers. The letters cover the period 1849-1893.

e. Migration Figures and Statistics
Jan Lucassen and Leo Lucassen, The mobility transition in Europe revisited, 1500-1900: Sources and methods (2010, IISH Research paper no. 46, PDF file, 129pp., 1020Kb), belonging to the article 'Mobility transition Revisited. 1500-1900' (Journal of Global Labour History, 2009, 4)
Leo Lucassen, Jan Lucassen, Rick de Jong & Mark van de Water, Cross-cultural migration in Western Europe 1901-2000: A preliminary estimate (2014, IISH-Research Paper 52)

f. Digital portals
Collaboratories in Social and Economic History are hosted by IISH.