Our History

Early Beginnings (1992)

The Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) grew from an idea suggested by a group of Shell wives living in the Netherlands in 1992, when the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company was preparing to commemorate its centenary. They wanted to recognise the contributions and worth of expatriate families. Certain issues of a lifetime on the move were common to many expatriates, such as leaving friends and family, schooling, medical care, learning new languages, adjusting to new cultures, dual careers and much more – a rich mosaic of life centred around an increasingly interconnected global community.

Two Expat Anthologies (1990s)

Under the guidance of Judy Moody-Stuart and other members of the Shell Ladies Project, hundreds of handwritten stories and reminiscences came pouring in from around the world in different languages, the earliest dated 1928. Volunteers translated, catalogued and edited these contributions into two anthologies published in 1993 and 1996: Life on the Move and Life Now.

Outpost Family Archive (2003)

By 2001 the original contributions had been carefully filed, but – just like the lives of the families contained within the files – remained in limbo. The writings were not Shell company property, nor were they possible to return to the authors, who had moved on. Judy Moody-Stuart was introduced by Glenda Lewin, to American professor of social history Dewey White. She recognised their unique value as source material. It was this valuable collection of original writings which was the inspiration for these three women to create the Outpost Family Archive Centre in 2003, originally as part of the Shell support organisation Outpost in The Hague.
When the foundation Outpost went through structural changes and morphed into Shell’s Global Outpost Services, it became clear that the archive should become separate. The original foundation was revised, reduced and renamed to deal solely with the preservation and expansion of the growing collection of expatriate writings.

Independent Foundation (2007-2008)

The collection was still without a permanent home. Judy Moody-Stuart and her husband donated premises in the historic Archipel district of The Hague in March 2007. Shell also provided a generous endowment to the foundation. The Expatriate Archive Centre, now freely independent from Shell, was formally launched by the Mayor of The Hague in April 2008.

Source Book (2008)

In 2008, a new book was published – The Source Book, An Expatriate Social History, 1927-2007, Shell Lives Unshelved. Containing material from over 250 contributors, this anthology was intended as a way to share excerpts from the growing collection of the EAC.

Growth (Since 2008)

Since 2008, the EAC has gone from strength to strength. The collection has broadened and diversified to include a wide range of writings, diaries, letters, memoirs, photographs, videos, blogs, and oral history recordings about the lives of people living and working abroad. The EAC aims to become a hub for the research of expatriation within migration history.

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