Colonial Statistics Excel

The Dutch colonial has an effective administration system. They like to collect data, and statistics of demography, tax, income, etc. are well documented.

In the era of manual data compilation and graphics, without Excel and Powerpoint, these are the early excel of data visualisation.

Here are some nice graphs from the Municipality of Medan.

Council Members

This graph is from the 1921 Report of the Municipality of Medan (Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1921). It shows the municipal council members from 1909 to 1921. The name on the left column is followed by the year they held the position. The Europeans dominated the council and coloured in red, Chinese in yellow, and Indigenous in brown. (Note skin colour scheme for the non-European!).

Medan council members 1909–1921. Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1921

The City Council of Medan was established in 1909 originally consisted of
15 members with 12 Europeans or equivalents, 2 Indigenous, and 1 Oriental.
In 1919, it was extended to 17, with 10 Europeans or equivalents, 5 Indigenous and 2 Orientals. Tjong A Fie, representing the Chinese and the Sultan of Deli Amaloedin held the most extended position.

Land grants

The land grant in Medan was quite complicated as initially lands were awarded through Sultan’s Grant. And they were later being sold through Controller’s Grant.

The Council started to map out the land grants from 1890 to 1920. There were two graphs. The first one describes the land parcel number (on the row) and the year (as the column) when a transaction occurs as a millimeter block. The smaller row number refers to areas near town centre and the larger number refers to areas away from the centre.

Land grants transaction in Medan from 1890 to 1920. The row (number) represents land number and the column is the year. Each transaction is marked as a dot. The smaller number is closer to city centre. Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1920.

Here are the explantion from Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1920 (Excuse the Google translation):

The result of the count is shown in two ways.

First is on millimeter paper in columns for every year the number of transfers-of-each-grant indicated by blackening one square millimeter for each transfer in the column.

The drawing gives a good idea of ​​the number of transfers during each year due to the more or less spread of these black dots, but mainly an impression of which grants are often and which are few or never transcribed.

The horizontal lines of grants are striking, which are transferred seven, eight, even nine times in one year. At the lot numbers 200 lot 250, the vertical lines indicate that a number of grants have been transferred at the same time.

Where also the older grants are almost all in the center of the city, the newer ones are in the suburbs, it turns out even at first glance, the land in the suburbs — where the most “money” was made — have changed hands the most times. The Kampong Keling section (Nos. 650 to 900) shows a questionable density of black dots. Remarkable is the part 920–950 (Kampong Dalam), which has never changed ownership.

Land grants number with time. Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1920

Three lines have been drawn on the second drawing. The upper indicates the number of grants present in each year. The strong ascension of this line is a result of the multiple parcellations due to more intensive construction and also of the ever-progressing deposition session of the Inlander (here Self-governing subject).

The slight decrease after 1916 is caused by the discontinuation of these grants (on which was then granted to non-Natives Right of Opstal) while some have expired after that time, and the increase in 1920 is due to the granting of Provisional Evidence for Parts of Auditor Grants.

The bottom line indicates the number of Transfers during each year. The course of this line means little because the number of transfers partly depends on the number of grants available. The dotted line, therefore, gives a more accurate picture because it indicates the ratio of the number of transfers to the number of grants expressed as a percentage.


The following graphs represent the distribution of population by ethnicity in 25 cities from 1920 census. From the top is European, the middle is Orientals (Chinese, Arabs, Indian, and others), and the bottom is Indigenous. This population trend still can be found today. Chinese population dominated many large cities. Medan poopulation which ranked 13, had a large percentage of Chinese.

Population by ethnicity from 1920 census. The number is in 1000 people. From the top: European, Orieentals and Indigenous. Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1922

Thus the next graph presents the population ethnic as percentage, it is clearer that Medan had the largest non-Indigenous population. Medan, Tanjung Balai, Siantar, and Pontianak had a large percentage of Chinese population.

Percentage of population by ethnicity from 1920 census. From the left: European, Orieentals and Indigenous. Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1922


The following sketch illustrates the education pathways in Medan. The Indigenous/Malay schools were sesparated from Dutch schools (right). The lowest level is the Frobel school (kindergarten). Next level is primary school. The Dutch schools have European schools, Holland Chinese and Holland Inlander School. The indigenous schools have Dutch and Malay schools. The next level is middle school. The Dutch school can go to 6 year of HBS, Hogere Burgerschool, or Higher Civic School. Alternatively, the can go to Middel School or MULO (Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs) or more advanced primary education” or Duitsche Cursus. The optional next level is AMS, Algemene Middelbare School (Higher level Middle School) or Handelsschool (vocational merchants training school).

For the Inlander, the middle level schools are vocational training: Handelsschool (trading), Landbouwschool (agriculture), Ambachtscgool (cradt and industry), Huishoudschool (household),

Scheme of Education in Medan. Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1920


Verslag der Gemeente Medan over het jaar 1920

Soil Scientist, interest in Colonial history.