NEW: Museum De Proefkolonie (The Trial Colony Museum)
It’s 1818 and the Netherlands ‘is on fire’. Napoleon left our country like the ‘Kingdom of the Poor’. The socially engaged General Johannes van den Bosch came along as our saviour and had an ambitious plan to combat poverty in our country through the foundation of agricultural colonies.
This was the start of the influential history of the Maatschappij van Weldadigheid (Society of Humanitarianism). The Frederiksoord Trial Colony was the first to be established. Here in South West Drenthe, a total of 52 farms were ready to welcome the poor city dwellers. They could count on work and shelter here. The children attended compulsory school and people had their own health insurance fund. They built churches, shops, schools and even a number of retreats. These social provisions actually meant the Maatschappij van Weldadigheid was around 80 years ahead of the rest of the Netherlands and is therefore regarded as the birthplace of our welfare state.