André Lauwrensius van Assenderp and Carol Lee Johnson van Assenderp collection
Scope and Contents
This collection mostly consists of Dutch language civil and military administrative documents from the career of André Lauwrensius van Assenderp, who was a Dutch colonial administrator in the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) and Suriname from 1932-1946. Some documents date from WWII and its immediate aftermath 1) when André served in Suriname from November 1941 to November 1943 as the District Commissioner and Commissioner of Police in Paramaribo, the colony’s capital, and 2) when he served in the Netherlands East Indies from April 1944 to November 1946 as an assistant-resident and military administrator in the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) and the Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL). Photographs include: Netherlands Indies Government Information Service (NIGIS) photos of Merauke, Dutch New Guinea (1944-1945) and the Allied invasion of Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo (July 1945), as well as personal photos of André, his American wife Carol Johnson van Assenderp, and their children. Artifacts include André’s Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL) officer’s dress uniform with hat and ceremonial sword, a WWII Japanese sword, a sword machete, a British pith helmet, individual portrait paintings of André and Carol, and Carol’s hollow chain Javanese bracelets. The collection also has André’s KNIL military training booklets, Carol’s written recollections of their first years in the NEI, and personal letters from family members in Holland (1940 and 1947) and the US. There are also papers from André’s teaching career at the Florida State University (1949-1958).
Scope and contents written by Tulie Wheeler Taylor, November 21, 2020, Tallahassee, Florida
- Created: 1927-1945
- Other: Majority of material found within 1940-1943
- Other: Date acquired: 06/04/2014
Language of Materials
Dutch, English, and French
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open to all researchers.
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.
Biographical or Historical Information
André Lauwrensius van Assenderp was born in Semarang, Java, Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) on September 7, 1907. The oldest of six children, André grew up and attended schools in Java until 1925, when he moved to The Hague, Netherlands to attend his last year of lyceum. He earned a degree in Indology at Leiden University and entered the graduate program to continue his studies. In the summer of 1930, André attended a concert of the Simmons College Cowboy Band from Abilene, Texas. While socializing with the band afterwards, he paged through a copy of The Bronco, the Simmons College yearbook, and saw a small photo of sophomore Carol Lee Johnson. André wrote to Carol and they began corresponding. After finishing his doctorandus degree (master’s degree) in late 1931, he traveled to Texas and asked Carol to marry him. They were married in The Hague in April 1932 and moved to the Netherlands East Indies, where André had been appointed an Aspirant-Controleur, a colonial administrator, in Central Java. André was assigned to Pekalongen and then Salatiga, where he was promoted to Controleur in 1935. In May 1935, Carol gave birth to their first child, André Lawrence, whom they called Larry. André was transferred in February 1936, to Koedoes/Kudus. Ten months later, Larry contracted encephalitis at the age of nineteen months. He died on December 20, 1936 and was buried in the European Cemetery at Kobong in Semarang. In the spring of 1937, Carol left for an extended visit to her family in the US, while André continued his work in Koedoes. He was promoted to Controleur 1st Klasse in May 1938. When his appointment in Central Java ended in the summer, he traveled to the Netherlands to see his parents and reunite with Carol.
While on leave in the Netherlands, André was appointed to a position in the Dutch colonial government of Suriname. On their way to South America, he and Carol visited her family in the US for several months. They arrived in Suriname in April 1939 and, in the summer, he was appointed the District Commissioner in the District of Saramacca. In October 1939, he was reassigned as the District Commissioner in the District of Nickerie.
In May 1940, the Germans invaded the Netherlands and, until the end of the war, André was cut off from all contact with his parents, Henri and Joanna, and his two youngest siblings, Albertine and Hans. A Dutch government-in-exile was organized in London and continued to govern the colonies of Suriname, Aruba, and Curacao, which were crucial to the Allied war effort. Suriname supplied the US with bauxite, which was used in the production of aluminum, while oil refineries on Cuarcao and Aruba were major suppliers of petroleum. In September 1941, Carol gave birth to their son, Ken, in Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital and largest city. André was appointed Paramaribo’s District Commissioner and Police Commissioner in November 1941, shortly before US troops began to arrive to guard the colony’s bauxite mines.
André left Suriname for the United States in late 1943 and, in early 1944, he was ordered to Australia by the East Indies Commission on Australia and New Zealand. At that time, the East Indies Commission functioned as the Netherlands East Indies government-in-exile under the authority of the Dutch government in London. In early 1942, the Japanese had invaded the Netherlands East Indies and gained control over most of the colony. André’s two brothers, Matthieu and Arnold, his sister, Henriette, and their families were taken prisoner by the Japanese until the end of the war. Matthieu and Arnold were in the military and were sent to work on the Thai-Burma Railway. In mid-1944, Matthieu was moved to the Fukuoka prison camp complex in Japan. Henriette and her husband and children, and Matthieu’s wife and child were imprisoned in civilian internment camps.
To re-establish Dutch civil authority in the liberated areas of the NEI, the East Indies Commission created the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) in early 1944. NICA posted André as the Assistant-Resident in Merauke, Dutch New Guinea, which had an airstrip and was under Allied control. In this position, he also served as an infantry Reserve-Major in the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL) and acted as the NEI liaison officer to the Australian infantry and air squadron units in the Merauke Force. During Operation Oboe 2 in July 1945, André commanded a NICA unit that accompanied the Australian 7th Division in the Allied invasion of Balikpapan, Borneo. In Banjermasin, Borneo on September 17, 1945, André and his unit witnessed the surrender of Major General Uno and 2500 Japanese soldiers to the occupying Australian forces. André served as the NICA commander of Southeast Borneo until he left for Australia at the end of November 1945.
When André went to Australia, Carol stayed behind with her parents in Louisiana and gave birth to their daughter, Doreen, in September 1944. She and the children were reunited with André in Australia in late 1945. In early 1946, André was assigned as Assistant-Resident in Makassar, Celebes, NEI. His duties included serving as the liaison to the 80th British Indian Infantry Brigade and monitoring intelligence reports on Indonesian nationalists for the Netherlands East Indies Forces Intelligence Service (NEFIS).
During a visit to the US in 1947, André accepted a position teaching economics at Tulane University in New Orleans. He was hired as an associate professor of economics at the Florida State University in Tallahassee in 1949 and, in 1950, he became a naturalized American citizen. In 1951, Dr. Marian Irish, the head of FSU’s Political Science Department, hired André as an associate professor. He taught classes in international relations and East Asian and Latin American politics. In 1956, he was appointed the faculty advisor for FSU’s new area of study in international affairs.
As a political science professor, André emphasized the idea that a nation’s politics must be studied and understood within the contexts of its history, culture, and religious influences. This approach, he maintained, would aid the US in crafting a strong foreign policy that would build durable international relationships. Many of André’s public lectures on international relations were reported on in varying degrees of detail in The Tallahassee Democrat and The Florida Flambeau, FSU’s student newspaper. André was at work on a book about Indonesia at the time of his death in early 1958 at the age of 50.
After she married André, Carol Johnson van Assenderp accompanied him on his assignments in the Netherlands East Indies and Suriname. In her role as a colonial official’s wife, she hosted dinner parties, socialized with André’s colleagues and their spouses, and volunteered in various organizations and activities. Carol had grown up in rural Louisiana, where she learned to drive cars and trucks as a teenager. During WWII in Suriname, she taught women military recruits how to drive double clutch trucks. After she and André moved to Tallahassee, she taught English at Elizabeth Cobb Junior High School. She received her master’s degree in social studies education at FSU in early 1958 and later taught social studies and geography at Leon High School. Carol died in Tallahassee in May 1993 at the age of 82.
Biographical or Historical Information written by Tulie Wheeler Taylor, November 21, 2020, in Tallahassee, Florida
5 boxes (3 half boxes, 1 full-sized artifacts box, 1 oversized box, 2 oversized photo boxes)
Transferred from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience to FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives in July 2022.
Source of Acquisition
Ken van Assenderp and Doreen Cohen (van Assenderp)
Method of Acquisition
- Cohen (van Assenderp), Doreen
- Cooper, Gary, 1901-1961
- Dutch East Indies Subject Source: Lcnaf
- Florida State University--Faculty Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Infantry drill and tactics Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Infantry drill and tactics--Netherlands. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Netherlands--History, Military--20th century. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Netherlands--History. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Netherlands. Army. Colonial forces
- Paramaribo (Suriname) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Suriname--History--1814-1950. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- World War, 1939-1945 Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- World War, 1939-1945--Indonesia Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- World War, 1939-1945--Netherlands Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- van Assenderp, André Lauwrensius, 1907-1958
- André Lauwrensius van Assenderp and Carol Lee Johnson van Assenderp collection
- Beatrice Dain and Tulie Wheeler Taylor
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note