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Belgium’s digital archival treasures: a survey

Belgium’s digital archival treasures: a survey


Master of Arts in History (VUB - Free University of Brussels), January-February 2013.

By order of the Royal Historical Commission of Belgium (KCG – CRH)




1. Public archives (1-55)

1.1. Archives of the federal institutions (1-11)

1.2. Archives of the federated entities (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) (12-16)

1.2.1. Flanders (12)

1.2.2. Wallonia (13-16)

1.3. Archives of universities and collaborative projects of universities with other organisations (17-29)

1.3.1. Collaborative projects of different organisations (17-21)

1.3.2. Antwerp (UA) (22)

1.3.3. Ghent (UGent) (23-27)

1.3.4. Leuven (KUL) (28)

1.3.5. Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL) (29)

1.4. Archives of the provinces, the cities and the municipalities (30-55)

1.4.1. Aalst (East Flanders) (30)

1.4.2. Antwerp (Antwerpen, Antwerp [province]) (31-35)

1.4.3. Bruges (Brugge, West Flanders) (36)

1.4.4. Brussels (Brussel / Bruxelles) (37)

1.4.5. Ghent (Gent, East Flanders) (38-40)

1.4.6. Hoogstraten (Antwerp [province]) (41)

1.4.7. Ypres (Ieper, West Flanders) (42)

1.4.8. Leuven (Flemish Brabant) (43-44)

1.4.9. Mechelen (Antwerp [province]) (45-46)

1.4.10. Ostend (West Flanders) (47-50)

1.4.11. Tongeren (Limburg) (51-54)

1.4.12. Turnhout (Antwerp [province]) (55)

2. Private archives (56-65)

2.1. Archives of institutions pertaining to private law (56-61)

2.1.1. Institutions recognised by the Flemish government (56-58)

2.1.2. Institutions recognised by the “Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles” (59-61)

2.2. Archives of religious institutions and archives linked to Freemasonry (62-63)

2.3. Archives of local leisure or hobby associations and archives of individual collectors (64-65)

3. Websites under construction (66-70)



For historians, as for any other professional group, the impact of the internet is enormous. The way in which primary sources can be consulted has drastically changed.  Nonetheless, the path of digitalising these primary sources is not an easy one. Karel Velle, director general of the State Archives, stated that because of the technological developments in recent decades, several problems concerning digitalisation of historic archives in Belgium have to be recognised;[1]

So far, the digitalisation process hasn’t been implemented in a coordinated manner and there are many different digitalisation strategies. We haven’t got sufficient financial means for the creation of the infrastructure which is necessary for the long-term conservation of digital documents. There are many more problems concerning this issue. In her policy note (2009-2014), the Flemish minister for Environment, Nature and Culture, Joke Schauvlieghe, also stated that - on the Flemish level - “there is too little clustering and consistency [...] concerning the contentaggregation[2] [“contentaggregatie” – sic] of digital heritage.”[3]

The apparent lack of coherence in the creation of digital sources is truly an enormous problem and it has made my task quite difficult.  In this document, I have tried to draft a list of written primary sources concerning archives which can be procured via the internet, from Medieval times to modern day Belgium. The websites mentioned in this record are listed under the name of the archival institution. We have chosen to draft this list, using the distinction between “public” and “private” archives. In the “public archives”-section, I have listed those archives that have a direct link to the political system of governance in Belgium (local authorities of villages, towns, provinces, Communities/Regions and central/federal institutions) and the universities.

The institutions are mentioned in a hierarchical manner; the federal archives are  listed first, then come the archives of the Communities and the Regions, followed by the universities and the  provincial and local archives. Every website mentioned in this document has been given a number. This study is focused on written or printed material and our aim was mainly to draft a list of archival sources.

What exactly do we mean by “digitalised archival sources”? It is quite useful to remind ourselves of what the term archive actually means, following a textbook definition, cited in Archiefterminologie voor Nederland en Vlaanderen (2003): “An archive is the sum of archival pieces (“archiefbescheiden”), received or created by a person, a group of persons or an organisation.”[4] An archival piece (“archiefstuk”) is defined as “[a] document, regardless of its form, destined by its nature to remain in the keeping of the person, group of persons or organisation which has received it or drafted it as a result of the functioning or the tasks of that person/group/organisation, or to uphold the rights of said person/group/organisation.”[5] Similarly, the Project Group on Terminology of the International Council on Archives defines “archives” as “[t]he documents created or received and accumulated by a person or organization in the course of the conduct of affairs, and preserved because of their continuing value.”[6] In this sense, I haven’t included published primary sources, such as books, newspapers, etc. As a rule, only unpublished sources have been treated in this list. I have only included sources which have a historic perspective and value. It is nonsensical to include all the reports of the provincial and city Councils in Belgium; I have only included sites that publish reports and minutes which go back at least ten years.

Concerning the Middle Ages, I have been more lenient, in the sense that I have included documents that are not archival per se. I thought this was practical, as these sources are often unique and not-accessible in their original form. I have also included several sites which allow the reader to search through federal and regional legislation, such as Staatsblad, Juridat, Vlaamse Codex and Wallex. Literary material hasn’t been included in this list, because it isn’t archival. It should be noted that – mainly in Flanders - there are many interesting digitalised books. This would make a great topic for another list, which would include digitalised literary sources (e.g. Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren [Digital Library for Dutch Letters], DBNL, ;  Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience [Heritage Library Hendrik Conscience], ; Artesis Hogeschool [Artesis School of Higher Education],

It is also useful to make the distinction between documents that are born digital, and those that are born again digital ; in the first case, the information was created as a digital document.  In the second case, the archival piece is  “a copy [of the original document] in digital form.”[7] Mostly, we will deal with archives that are born again digital.

I want to stress the fact that digital archives are often difficult to find. If one cannot locate or consult a digital archive, one can assume that the digitalisation of that archive has been useless.[8] In 2009, Herman Coppens, archivist at the State Archives, stated that many archival institutions “make great efforts to digitize the often-consulted and most threatened documents and to make these available on the internet. We are only at the very beginning of this development, in which one can go from the description of the desired piece to an image of it.”[9] Since 2009, the importance of digitalised archival documents has only increased and some institutions, like the Belgian State Archives (infra), are in the process of putting thousands of pages online, while others (e.g. SOMA-CEGES, infra) already have an extensive online-archive.

While browsing through the “public archives” section of this list, the reader will probably be surprised about the fact  that the Communities of Belgium have undertaken so little apparent action on the terrain of digitalising primary sources. This would be a false supposition.  The federalisation of Belgium is a relatively recent process; the fist state reform – a step stone to the creation of a federal Belgian state – only dates from 1970. Many sites in the “private archives”-section of this document came about with the dedication, support and encouragement of the federated entities.

However, Joke Schauvlieghe stated firmly that “[in the coming years, Flanders] isn’t going to miss the digital train. [...]  Compared to other countries, Flanders falls behind on the issue of e-culture in general and digitalising cultural heritage in particular. [...] We need to catch up.”[10] This “catching up” manifests itself in the recent creation of websites such as Flandrica (infra).

I would also like to add a few words concerning the method of reference in this list. When the websites concerned are available in two or more languages, the reader will find references to the site in all these languages. When a website was ‘under construction’ at the time of consultation, I have also listed it in this document, with a special mention. I have personally translated the titles of the organizations and of the websites concerned (originally in French or Dutch) in English.

These translations are between brackets ‘[..]’ and they  are merely an indication to help the English-speaking reader of this document in his or her search for online primary sources; they are by no means ‘official’ translations of the titles of the organizations or websites and they should not be considered as such. The dates on which I have consulted the sites are styled in the “day – month – year”-format, as used in most European countries.

I have done my utmost to make this list as exhaustive as possible. Sadly, it is impossible to guarantee totality; the internet is such a vast universe, one can only aspire to be as thorough and rigorous as possible, knowing that one’s work is never fully completed, as there are new sources made available on a daily basis.

To end this short introduction, I would like to express the aspiration that my list can be of service to other historians, archivists and students, who want to find their way in the exciting and ever-expanding panoply of online primary sources in Belgium.

1. Public archives

1.1. Archives of the federal institutions

1. Algemeen Rijksarchief – Archives générales du Royaume – Generalstaatsarchiv [State Archives]. Archievenoverzicht [survey of the archives]. Last consultation 7/02/2013,

Fr.: Aperçu des fonds d’archives. Last consultation 7/02/2013,

En.: [No English title]. Last consultation 7/02/2013,

Remarks: The State Archives have a vast digital collection, which is permanently updated. The archives which are included cover several time periods. One has to register, in order to view the digitalised documents.  A login and a password are needed. Logging in is free and can be done by following these simple steps:

1. On the homepage, select the option “Search archives.”

2. Enter name, email address and password.

3. One will immediately receive an email, with a link. Once this link is opened, one is registered.

4. On the site, select the option “Alleen gedigitaliseerde bestanden”  [“Only digitalised records”].

This is a vast collection, which momentarily includes 53 different archival sources, often composed of hundreds of pages. There is an efficient tool, in order to search through the collection (selection based on depository, time period, category). The immense digital archival collection of the State Archives momentarily includes (situation of 12/02/2013):

-Parish registers (from all Belgian provinces); ca. 25 000 registers and being updated regularly.

-Civil registers (from all Belgian provinces); these registers are permanently being made available. Access at the moment is still partial. On the basis of these registers, the State Archives have also introduced a method of searching for the birth records of a particular person.

-Archives of local and central governments (Ancien Régime): departmental archives of Lille; reports of the bench of Aldermen of Vliermaal ; registers of Rekenkamers / Chambres des Comptes [Audit chambers] ; deeds and contracts of Kortrijk ; archival documents of the “Etats Belgiques unis” / “Verenigde Nederlanden” (1790-1794)

-Archives of local and central governments (19th-20th century): minutes of the Council of Ministers (1918-1982). These minutes are also available for consultation without registration: Online toegang tot de ‘notulen van de ministerraad’. Accès en ligne aux ‘procès verbaux du conseil des ministres. [Online access to the ‘minutes of the council of ministers]. Last consultation 18/02/2013,

-Archives of the  Raad van Vlaanderen [Council of Flanders, W.W. I]

-Archives of religious and private institutions and of universities: registers of the Abbey of Stavelot (Ancien Régime) ; Enrolment registers (“matrikels”) of the University of Leuven (15th-18th century).

-Official treaties: Grensverdrag [Border Treaty] of 1820.

-Archives pertaining to the Royal Family: Agenda of the aides-de-camp of king Albert I and queen Elisabeth (August 1914 – November 1918).

-Archives of political figures and those related to the government (contemporary Begium): documents of J.-B. Nothomb (1805-1881) ; O. Plisnier (1885-1952).

2. Belgica (KBR [Belgian Royal Library Albert I]). Belgica. Digitale bibliotheek van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België [Digital library of the Royal Library of Belgium]. Last consultation 2/01/2013,

Fr.: Bibliothèque numérique de la Bibliothèque royale de Belgique. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: This online-library contains a great number of “Belgicana.” These are documents relating to Belgian history, also before 1830 (manuscripts, precious works, newspapers, etc.).

It is especially useful for this list to include the collection of ca. 30 digitalised Medieval manuscripts and 9 valuable handwritten books of king Charles V of France (14th century).

3. Belgisch Staatsblad [Belgian Official Journal]. Opzoeking [Search]. Last consultation 2/01/2013,

Fr.: Moniteur belge. Recherche. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Ge.: Belgisches Staatsblatt. Suche. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

4. Belgische Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers – Chambre des Représentants de Belgique [Belgian Chamber of Representatives]. Parlementaire Handelingen [Parliamentary Proceedings]. Last consultation 15/02/2013,

Fr.: Annales parlementaires. Last consultation 15/02/2013,

Remarks: The proceedings (1844 – present) can also be found on (infra).

5. Belgische Senaat – Sénat de Belgique [Belgian Senate]. Handelingen [Proceedings]. Last consultation 8/02/2013,

Fr. Annales. Last consultation 8/02/2013,

Remarks: The proceedings of the Belgian Senate can be searched, from 1848 to the present day.

6. Carmen. Digitaal Archief van de Munt. Document. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Fr.: Carmen. Les Archives digitales de la Monnaie. Document. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

En.: Carmen. The Digital Archives of la Monnaie. Document. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Remarks: This archive contains letters, brochures and other documents relating to the history of la Monnaie.

These documents are mostly produced by composers, musicians and others in the cultural sector.

7. Carmentis - Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis – Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire [Royal Museums of Art and History] . Zoek. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

Fr.: Recherche. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

En.: Basic search. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: One can search through 20 000 objects and texts, relating to Belgian, European and World history. Although the database contains mostly objects, there are also archival documents, concerning art history, which have been digitalised.

These documents are mainly related to Belgian artists and the daily workings of their studios  (e.g. letters and accounts from the archive of the painter an engraver Jules De Bruycker).

8. Juridat. Loi – Wet [Law]. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

Fr.: Loi-Wet. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: Portal for Belgian legislation.

9. Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika – Musée royale de l’Afrique centrale [Royal Museum for Central Africa]. Collectiedatabank. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

Fr.: Base de données des collections. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

En.: Online Collection Database. Last consultation  4/01/2013,

Ge.: [No German title]. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: A small selection of the large collection of the museum is digitalised. There are only a few written documents which can be consulted.

This site also contains an online exhibition on Henry Morton Stanley, with several written archival sources.


Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika – Musée royale de l’Afrique centrale [Royal Museum for Central Africa]. Schatten uit de Stanley Archieven. Last consultation 9/01/2013,

Fr.: Les trésors des archives Stanley. Last consultation 9/01/2013,

En.: Stanley archives’ treasures. Last consultation 9/01/2013,

Ge.: [No German title]. Last consultation 9/01/2013,

10. Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis – Commision royale d’Histoire [Royal Historical Commission]– AMSAB.[11] Achter de schermen van de Belgische Werkliedenpartij. Online toegang tot de gedigitaliseerde BWP-verslagboeken 1892-1940 [Behind the scenes of the BWP - POB. Online access to the digital report books]. Last consultation 2/01/2013,

Fr.: Dans les coulisses du Parti Ouvrier Belge. Accès en ligne à la version numérisée des comptes rendus 1892-1940 du POB. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

11. SOMA – CEGES [Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society (CWS)].  S.t. Last consultation 30/12/2012, and Online catalogus Pallas. Last consultation 18/02/2013,

Fr.: S.t. Last consultation 4/01/2013, and Catalogue en ligne Pallas. Last consultation 18/02/2013,

En.: To consult the online catalogue Pallas. Last consultation 18/02/2013,

Remarks: This online archive contains over 18 000 pages. Most of the documents are letters or reports. They originate from the period just before, during and just after the Second World War (ca.1935 – ca. 1950). Some documents are even later (1950s to 1980s).

The online collection is permanently updated and this site is not to be skipped by anyone who is interested in Belgium’s W.W. II-history,  the developments during the entre-deux-guerres / Interbellum (the Interwar period) and the immediate aftermath of the War (the repression of the collaboration).

At the moment (18/02/2013) following archival pieces can be consulted:

-A part of the archive of Hendrik De Man (Socialist politician, 1885-1953).

-Correspondence of Todor Angeloff [sic] (Todor Angelov, Resistance leader, 1900-1943).

-Documents concerning the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), from the archives of Germaine Hannevart (Pacifist and important feminist leader, 1887-1977)[12] and of the antifascist fighters Fernand Stevens, Iossif Ghilman and Jean Van den Plas. There are also documents of the International Brigades.

-Reports of the Commission of Inquiry of the Secretary-generals (“Commission d'enquête des Secrétaires Généraux”, 1944-1948).

-Documents, mostly from the State Archives, pertaining to national and local official institutions during the war.

-Archives of collaborationist political parties and associations.

-Archives of the German occupants (reports and Verordnungsblatt of the Militärverwaltung, Zivilverwaltung).

-Personal documents (notes and memoirs) of Jean Rey (Liberal politician, 1902-1983).

1.2. Archives of the federated entities (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels)

1.2.1. Flanders

12. Vlaamse Overheid [Flemish Government]. Vlaamse Codex. Zoekcriteria [Flemish Codex. Search criteria]. Last consultation 7/02/2013,

Remarks: The Codex is a tool to search through the Flemish legislation (mainly decrees).

1.2.2. Wallonia

13. Académie royale (des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux Arts) de Belgique [Francophone Royal Academy (of Science, Letters and Arts) of Belgium].[13] Tous les documents [All documents]. Last consultation 2/03/2013,

Remarks: This site includes some 40 letters and other documents concerning many well-known francophone Belgian writers, politicians and scientists from the early Modern Period to the present day. There are also letters by prominent foreigners (e.g. Charles De Gaulle, Charles Darwin, etc.) addressed to Belgians. The letters are presented as original photographed documents, and they are also transcribed, to increase the legibility of the source texts.

14. Archives et Musée de la Littérature (AML) [Archives and Museum of French Literature]. Archives. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

Remarks: This archive contains documents – and literature - concerning Francophone literature in Belgium. Many of them can be viewed in the form of a PDF-file. A password is needed to view the digitalised files.

15. Le Gouvernement wallon [The Walloon Government]. Wallex. Recherche experte. [Wallex. Expert search]. Last consultation 7/02/2013,

Remarks: Wallex is a platform for searching Walloon legislation. In this sense, it can be compared to Juridat (supra) on the federal level and the Vlaamse Codex (infra) on the Flemish level.

16. Musée Royal de Mariemont [Royal Museum of Mariemont]. S.t. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

Nl.: S.t. Last consultation 4/01/2013, [14]

En.: S.t. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: The Musée Royal de Mariemont – an initiative of the “Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles” (the Francophone Community) - contains a number of pieces which can be digitally consulted. Noteworthy for this list are:

-The Livre d’Heures of the Queen mother of France (15th-16th century).

-The collection of manuscripts (and mainly letters) of prominent Belgians and foreigners of diverse nature and covering several centuries (e.g. Louis XIV, Victor Hugo, Frédéric Chopin, Maurice Béjart, Titian, Rembrandt, Huygens, etc.).

General remark:

Please note that the legislation of the Regions and the Communities of Belgium can also be found by searching Juridat and Staatsblad.

1.3. Archives of universities and collaborative projects of universities with other organisations[15]

1.3.1. Collaborative projects of different organisations

17. ARCHIves of Belgian Arts, Letters and Documents (ARCHIBALD; project of Fund Octave Maus, collaboration between ULB, UA and the federal government). Catalogus voor het Archief van Hedendaagse Kunst in België [Catalogue for the Archive of Contemporary Art in Belgium]. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

Fr.: Catalogue des Archives de l’Art contemporain en Belgique. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: ARCHIBALD has a digital collection of letters and other documents of Belgian and foreign contemporary artists, from the archives collected by Octave Maus, secretary of the artist’s associations “Les XX” and “La Libre Esthétique” (1884-1914).

More than 200 letters and other archival documents can be found, pertaining to artists like J. Ensor, A. Charpentier, A. W. Finch, A. Besnard, etc.

18. Flandrica. De collectie [The collection]. Last consultation 2/01/2013,*

Remarks: Flandrica has a digital collection from six Flemish heritage libraries  (Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience [Heritage Library Hendrik Conscience], Universiteitsbibliotheek Antwerpen [University Library Antwerp], Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge [Public Library Bruges], Universiteitsbibliotheek Gent [University Library Ghent], Provinciale Bibliotheek Limburg [Provincial Library Limburg] and Universiteitsbibliotheek Leuven [University Library Leuven]). When this site first started (November 2012) 425 miscellaneous documents were put online. Because Flandrica is the result of a cooperation between the six aforementioned libraries, it can be compared to the Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheek [Flemish Heritage Library], which focuses solely on 17th and 18th century books, but without references to archival sources.

Flandrica does contain archival sources:

-Private notes and letters of G. Gezelle (priest and poet, 1830-1899) and other Flemish literary figures.

-Documents (regulations, charters, etc.) of cities, villages and municipalities, mostly dating from the 18th and 19th century.

19. Guido Gezellearchief (Openbare Bibliotheek Brugge, Universiteit Antwerpen, Gezellecentrum, Max Wildersfonds, FWO) [Archives of G. Gezelle (Public Library Bruges, University of Antwerp, Centre Gezelle, Max Wilders Foundations, Flemish Fund for Scientific Research)].  Archivalia [Archives]. Last consultation 2/01/2013,

Remarks: This site includes miscellaneous archival documents concerning the life and work of  G. Gezelle (supra). This collection includes: letters, diplomas, notes, etc.

20. Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal-en Letterkunde [Royal Academy for Dutch Language –and text studies], Universiteit Antwerpen [University of Antwerp], FWO [Flemish Fund for Scientific Research] and Centrum voor Tekst –en Bronnenstudie [Centre for the Study of Texts and Sources]. Digitale bouwstoffen voor de geschiedenis van het Nederlands [Digital resources for the history of the Dutch language]. Last consulted 9/01/2013,

Remarks: This site contains the original and annotated text of a “Gothic Bible”, a corpus of 14th century non-literary Dutch texts, and Late-Medieval autobiographic ego-documents.

21. UGent [Ghent University] - Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis [Royal Historical Commission] – KUL [Catholic University of Leuven] - University of Groningen: The Narrative Sources from the Medieval Low Countries – De verhalende bronnen uit de middeleeuwse Nederlanden – Les Sources narratives des Pays-Bas médiévaux. Manuscripten zoeken. Last consultation 19/01/2013,

En.: Manuscript search. Last consultation 19/01/2013,

Remarks: Narrative Sources doesn’t contain primary sources, but it does reveal valuable information on the location of primary sources. If the site refers to online sources, a link is presented. These links often relate to foreign (non-Belgian) websites (e.g. Gallica – Bibliotheque nationale de France. Bibliotheque numérique. Last consultation 20/01/2013, and Bayerische StaatsBibliothek – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Suche [Search]. Last consultation 20/01/2013, Narrative Sources is a valuable website for those interested in Medieval studies!

1.3.2. Antwerp (UA)

22. (Universiteit Antwerpen [University of Antwerp], in cooperation with the Chamber of Representatives). Belgian Chamber of Representatives. Proceedings of the plenary sessions. Last consultation 8/02/2013,

Remarks: Plenum contains the proceedings of the Chamber of Representatives from 1844 to 1999. The main difference between this site and the site of the Chamber of Representatives (supra), is that in Plenum the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) has been implemented. This allows the user to search through the texts of the proceedings, which is not possible on the site of the Chamber.

1.3.3. Ghent (UGent)

23. Bib. UGent [Library of Ghent University]. Antifonarium Tsgrooten [Choir book, 1522]. Last consultation 28/12/2012,

24. Centrum voor teksteditie en bronnenstudie - Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal - en Letterkunde [Centre for text edition and the study of sources – Royal Academy for the Dutch Language and Literature]. In oorlogsnood. Virginie Lovelings dagboek 1914-1918. [The danger of war. The journal of Virginie Loveling]. Last consultation 21/12/2012,

Remarks: The original manuscript of the war journal of V. Loveling (Flemish author, 1836-1923) is in the collection of Ghent University. The integral diary, an exact transcription of the original text, can be consulted online. In 1999 the war journal was already published, so in that sense it should not be considered an archival source. But this online version includes previously unpublished material, which was found after the publication of In Oorlogsnood (1999). This makes it eligible for this list, since the integral version of the journal is unpublished.

25. FWO - UGent – CTB (dr. B. Van Raemdonck). Van Nu en Straks. De brieven [ “Van Nu en Straks.” The letters]. Last consultation 21/12/2012,

Remarks: This site – a part of dr. Van Raemdock’s dissertation - contains letters of the members of the Flemish literary movement that published the journal “Van Nu en Straks” (late 19th – early 20th century).

26. UGent [Ghent University]. Bloemlezing originele archiefteksten [Selection of original archival texts]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

Remarks: These archival documents are interesting and sometimes humorous texts concerning the history of the University of Ghent.  Although they are original archival sources, they are quite fragmentary texts.

27. Ibid. Collectie Universiteitsarchief Gent [Collection Ghent University Archives]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

Remarks: Not all documents are digitized. The digitized sources can only be viewed with a password, by members of the community of Ghent University.

1.3.4. Leuven (KUL)

28. LIAS - Archives Today. Zoeken [Search]. Last consultation 28/12/2012,

Remarks: LIAS contains many online archival documents, mainly relating to the collection of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL). Hundreds of pieces can be consulted, from Medieval times to the present day.

1.3.5. Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL)

29. Bibliotheca Classica Selecta (UCL). Accueil [Welcome]. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: This site, based on a project of em. prof. dr. J.-M. Hannick  and em. prof. dr. J. Poucet (UCL), contains literary texts of the Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The texts are presented  in Latin and there are French translations. These texts are listed per author: Itinera Electronica. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

1.4. Archives of the provinces, the cities and the municipalities[16]

1.4.1. Aalst (East Flanders)

30. Made in Aalst. Zoeken [search]. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Remarks: This site contains online versions of documents concerning the history of the city of Aalst. Many documents (accounts, letters, documents of the city’s aldermen, etc.) can be viewed online, by performing a simple search. A wide variety of sources can be consulted. The site is a portal of different heritage projects in Aalst and it contains thousands of documents.

1.4.2. Antwerp (Antwerpen, Antwerp [province])

31. Felixarchief [Felix Archive, Antwerp]. Ancien Régime archief van de stad Antwerpen [Ancien Régime archive of Antwerp]. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

Remarks: The Felix Archive has a digital collection, but the reader should be aware that only a fraction of the documents can be consulted digitally. The visitor must register on the site to consult these documents.

It’s  extremely difficult to make a list of those archival documents that are digitalised, because the search engine of the site doesn’t allow the user to consult only the digitalised documents (which can be done, for example, on the site of the State Archives “Alleen gedigitaliseerde bestanden” [“Only digitalised records”], supra) . We can assume that only a fraction of the documents are digitalised, since a random search of the online inventory didn’t generate digitalised documents. Nonetheless, it is stated on the site that “[i]f it [a document] is available digitally, you can select  the link to open the archival document”, which implies that there are digitalised documents.

32. Ibid., Archieven van de Stad Antwerpen [Archives of the city of Antwerp]. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

Remarks: Only a small part of the documents can be consulted digitally. Again, it is difficult to list these digitalised documents.

An important category of digitalised archival sources that are born digital, are the resolutions of the college of the Mayor and the Aldermen (“besluiten van het college van Burgemeester en Schepenen”), 30/08/2011 – present. Older resolutions can be found through the site of Notulus (infra).

33. Ibid., Private archieven [Private archives]. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

34. Musea en Erfgoed Antwerpen. S.t. Last consultation 14/01/2013,,com_memorix/task,result/searchplugin,categorie/Itemid,2/Categorie,boek/lang,nl/

Fr.: Banque d’images des Musées de la Ville d’Anvers. S.t. Last consultation 14/01/2013,,com_memorix/Itemid,2/task,result/cp,1/resultplugin,list/lang,fr/

En.: Antwerp City Museums Image Bank. S.t. Last consultation 14/01/2013,,com_memorix/Itemid,2/task,result/cp,1/resultplugin,list/lang,en/

Remarks: This collection contains almost 900 written sources, mainly printed books, but also letters and manuscripts. Not all pages can be seen online. These pieces come from the vast collections in Antwerp.

Noteworthy archival documents are:

-Letters concerning  P.P. Rubens. These documents come from the archives of the Rubenshuis [House of Rubens]. Some of them were written by Rubens himself (notes and designs), others were written by family members, friends and acquaintances of the painter.

-Letters concerning the Plantin archive, a family of book printers from Antwerp.

35. Notulus Besluitvorming [Notulus Decision Making] (City of Antwerp). Zoeken in Notulus [Search Notulus]. Last consultation 12/02/2013,

Remarks: This site contains the decisions of the college of the Mayor and the Aldermen (2001-2013). It can be accessed through the site of the Felixarchive (supra), therefore I have also placed it in this list.

1.4.3. Bruges (Brugge, West Flanders)

36. Archiefbank Brugge [Archival database Bruges]. S.t [Death certificates and birth certificates, 1796-1910] . Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Remarks: This database contains almost 200 000 (!) certificates of the civil registry. To consult this database, one has to register, which is free for all.

1.4.4. Brussels (Brussel / Bruxelles)

37. Stadsarchief Brussel [City Archive Brussels]. Online documenten. Last consultation 2/01/2013,

Fr.:  Documents en Ligne. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

En.: Online Documents. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: “Guestbooks”, “Almanachs of trade and industry”, the “Cahiers” and the “Municipal documents” can be consulted.

1.4.5. Ghent (Gent, East Flanders)

38. OCMW Gent. Vondeling zoeken [Search foundling, 1790-1922]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

Remarks: One can look up a foundling by entering the name of the individual concerned.

39. Stadsarchief Gent [City Archive Ghent]. Gentse trouwboeken (1584-1796) [Ghent marital books]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

40. Ibid., Begraafboeken Alexianen (17de-18de eeuw) [Burial places of the Alexians, 17th-18the century]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

1.4.6. Hoogstraten (Antwerp [province])

41. Erfgoedbank Hoogstraten [Heritage database Hoogstraten]. Genealogie [Genealogy]. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Remarks: This database contains 3000 death cards and the data of the civil registry (1798-1880).

1.4.7. Ypres (Ieper, West Flanders)

42. Stad Ieper [City of Ypres]. Deskundig zoeken. Last consultation 8/01/2013,

Fr.: Recherche expert. Last consultation 8/01/2013,

En.: Expert search. Last consultation 8/01/2013,

Ge.: Expertensuche. Last consultation 8/01/2013,

Remarks: The visitor can explore a vast collection of archival documents concerning the history of Ypres (West-Flanders). Letters, holy cards and other documents can be consulted online by carrying out an “expert search”.

1.4.8. Leuven (Flemish Brabant)

43. M Leuven [Museum of Leuven]. Bijbel van Anjou. Napels-1340. Een koninklijk handschrift ontsluierd. Last consultation 21/12/2012,

Fr.: Bible d’Anjou. Naples-1340. Un manuscript royal révélé. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

En.: The Anjou Bible. Naples-1340. A Royal Manuscript revealed. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

44. Stadarchief Leuven [City Archive Leuven] Itinera Nova.  Bladeren [Browse through the registers of the Bench of Aldermen] (1362-1590). Last consultation 21/12/2012,,,

Fr.: Navigation. Last consultation 4/01/2013,,,

En.: Browse. Last consultation 4/01/2013,,,

Remarks: Itinera Nova is an ambitious project to digitalize the reports of the Aldermen of Leuven (1362-1590). This is a vast digital collection, containing tens of thousands of pages.

1.4.9. Mechelen (Antwerp [province])

45. Stadsarchief Mechelen [City Archive Mechelen]. Stad Mechelen (Ancien Régime) [City of Mechelen (Ancien Régime)]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

Remarks: Only a small part of this archive can be consulted digitally. Most digital archival pieces are 19th century transcriptions of letters of the aldermen and the Magistrate, accounts (“rekeningen”) of the city and other reports concerning local government. These pieces date from the Ancien Régime-period.

46. Ibid., District, Ressort en Provincie Mechelen [District, County and Province of Mechelen]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

Remarks: The documents on this site are comparable to no. 44.

1.4.10. Ostend (West Flanders)

47. Beeldbank Oostende [Ostend Image database]. Collectieoverzicht [survey of the collection]. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Remarks: This image database contains not only images stricto sensu, but also photographs/scans of archival documents (printed archive) concerning the history of Ostend.

48. Oostende Archief [Archives of Ostend]. Genealogie en stamboom [Genealogy and family tree]. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Remarks: This database contains the birth –and death certificates of Ostend, Mariakerke, Stene and Zandvoorde (1795-1910).

49. Ibid., Gemeenteraad. Notulen [City Councel. Minutes]. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

50. Ibid., Jaarverslagen [Annual reports]. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Remarks: At the time of consultation, I wasn’t able to gain access to the site.

1.4.11. Tongeren (Limburg)

51. Stadsarchief Tongeren [City Archive Tongeren]. Gichten[17] [registers] (1468-1613). Last consultation 14/01/2013,

52. Ibid., Tongerse Begijnen [Nuns of Tongeren]. Last consultation 14/01/2013,

Remarks: This archive contains transcribed documents on 16th and 17th century nuns in Tongeren (names, dates, activities, last wills, etc.).

53. Ibid., Parochieregisters. Huwelijken en overlijdens. [Registers of the parish]. Last consultation 14/01/2013,

54. Ibid., Burgerlijke Stand. Geboortes, overlijdens, huwelijken [Civil Registry. Births, deaths, marriages, 19th-20th century]. Last consultation 14/01/2013,

1.4.12. Turnhout (Antwerp [province])

55. Stadsarchief Turnhout [City Archive Turnhout]. Digitale bronnen [Digital Sources]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

Remarks: This site contains reports of the city of Turnhout (1845-1875).

2. Private archives

2.1. Archives of institutions pertaining to private law

2.1.1. Institutions recognised by the Flemish government[18]

56. AMSAB. AMSAB, Instituut voor sociale geschiedenis. Digitale bronnen. [Institute for social History]. Last consultation 29/12/2012,


Fr.: Sources digitales. Last consultation 4/01/2013,


En.: Digital Sources. Last consultation 4/01/2013,


Remarks: Different sources can be consulted online:

-Reports on the activities of the ABVV [General Federation of Belgian Labour] (1945-1997).

-Minutes of the meetings of the National Bureau of the ABVV (1944-1986).

-Reports of the ACOD [Labour Union for Public Services] (1950-1987).

-BWP - reports of Ghent (1883-1922).

-TACB [Union of Textile labourers] –reports (1910-1934).

There is also a collaboration between the Royal Historical Commission and AMSAB, which is mentioned in this paper. This site ( contains reports books of the BWP-POB (1892-1940), as mentioned under no. 9 (supra).

57. AMVB (Archief en Museum voor het Vlaams leven te Brussel [Archives and Museum for Flemish life in Brussels]) Overzicht verenigingen [Overview of associations]. Last consultation 20/12/2012,

Remarks: This site contains several sources concerning the history of Flemish associations (e.g. Marnixring) in Brussels. The PDF-files mostly relate to minutes and reports of the associations. The online archival sources are sometimes only available at the AMVB, because of privacy –or copyright related issues.

58. Liberaal Archief [Liberal Archives]. Databestanden. Archief. [Database. Archives]. Last consultation 2/01/2013,

Remarks: The regulations (‘statuten’), the electoral programs and the text of the Oxford Manifesto (1917) can be consulted.

2.1.2. Institutions recognised by the “Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles”

59. ETOPIA (Centre d’Animation et de Recherche en Ecologie Politique [Centre for the study of Political Ecology]). Recherche fonds archive. [Search in Archives]. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: Most of the documents cannot be consulted digitally. The reports, parliamentary questions, and official communiqués of the Francophone “green” party Ecolo of the last two years can be consulted online.

60. Form’action André Renard – Histoire Sociale de l’Euregio [Social history of the Euregion].  Archives. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Nl.: Archieven. Last consulted 4/01/2013,

Remarks: Several relevant sources for this list are the manuscripts and the letters published on the site, which can be consulted by performing a search, in which one can select the option “Lettre” or “Manuscrit.”

61. Mundaneum. Versions digitalisées. Last consultation 2/01/2012,

Nl.: Gedigitaliseerde documenten. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

En.: Digitized documents. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: At the time of consultation, only 6 primary sources were available online. Only two of them are written sources (“Schéma de Paul Otlet” and “Avis de l’occupant allemand”.)

2.2. Archives of religious institutions and archives linked to Freemasonry

62. MADOC (Grootoosten van België) – Grand Orient de Belgique [Great Orient of Belgium - Freemasonry]. Nuttige schatten [Useful treasures]. Last consultation 21/12/2012,

Fr.: Des richesses utiles. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: The digital sources are – in principle – only to be consulted by students, researchers and Freemasons.

Those interested in consulting these archives have to send a written application to MADOC.

63. Zusters van Liefde van Jezus en Maria – Soeurs de la Charité de Jesus et de Marie [Sisters of Love for Jesus and Mary]. Archief [Archives]. Last consultation 3/01/2013,

Fr.: Archives. Last consultation 4/01/2013,

Remarks: Only a few documents are digitalized, by way of example.

2.3. Archives of local leisure or hobby associations and archives of individual collectors

64. Ars Moriendi. Ars Moriendi. Last consultation 29/12/2012,

Remarks: This is a site created by a collector of death-related items of important Belgians (1830-present). The author has scanned his collection, so it can be viewed online.

65. Harelbeke – Kunstarchieven [Art Archives].  Kunstarchieven bijgehouden door meester Callaert [Art archives collected by Mr. Callaert]. Last consultation 16/01/2013,

Remarks: This is an online collection of scanned documents concerning the history of a local art club in Harelbeke (“De Kunstvrienden van Harelbeke en de Leiestreek” [“Art-friends of Harelbeke and the area of the river Leie-Lys”]). This collection was collected by a local schoolteacher.

3. Websites under construction

66. Almire Foundation (Internationaal Centrum voor de Studie van de Muziek in de Lage Landen). Bronnen. Last consultation 14/01/2013,

En.: Almire Foundation (International Centre for the Study of Music in the Low Countries). Sources. Last consultation 14/01/2013,

Remarks: There will be direct online access to – presently unknown - sources concerning musical heritage.

67. Ibid. – KBR [Royal Library]. S.t. [Digitalized handwritings polyphone music (1470 – 1536)].

Remarks: More information on the project can be found online: Muzikaal Erfoed in Vlaanderen [Musical Heritage in Flanders]. Almire en KBR digitaliseren handschriften polyfone muziek [Almire and KBR are digitalizing manuscripts concerning polyphone music.] Last consultation, 14/01/2013,

68. Ibid., S.t. [Digitalized manuscripts of 14th-17th century].

Remarks: More information on the project can be found online: Muzikaal Erfgoed in Vlaanderen [Musical Heritage in Flanders]. Vaticaanse Polyfonie gedigitaliseerd [Vatican Polyphony digitalized]. Last consultation 14/01/2013,

69. Felixarchief [Felix Archive, Antwerp]. Archieven van het OCMW [Archives of the public welfare service]. Last consultation 30/12/2012,

70. University of Sheffield  (with cooperation of KBR [Royal Library]). Virtual Vellum Overview [Digitalisation of the  ‘Chroniques’ of Jean Froissart, concerning the one hundred year-war]. Last consultation 3/01/2012, and

Remarks: The‘Chroniques’ of Froissart (ca. 1337-1404) will be fully digitalized in the time to come. No date has been set for the completion of this project.



[1] VELLE (K.). ‘De modernisering van de Belgische archiefsector. Who’s paying the bill?’ In: Faro, 4, 2011, p. 28. (Dutch text).

[2] This word doesn’t seem to exist in Dutch or English, but in this context,  it should mean something to the effect of: “collecting the content of different sources on one place”.

[3] SCHAUVLIEGHE (J.). Beleidsnota Cultuur. S.l., 2009,  pp. 11-12. Last consultation 9/02/2013, (Dutch text, my own translation).

[4] DEN TEULING (A. J. M.). Archiefterminologie voor Nederland en Vlaanderen. The Hague, Stichting Archiefpublicaties, 2003, entry no. 10. (Dutch text, my own translation).

[5] Ibid., entry no. 8. (Dutch text, my own translation). I had to alter the text somewhat, in order to preserve its meaning and increase its legibility. The original quote is: “Document, ongeacht zijn vorm, naar zijn aard bestemd om te berusten onder de persoon, groep personen of organisatie die het heeft ontvangen of opgemaakt, uit hoofde van zijn of haar activiteiten, zijn of haar taken of ter handhaving van zijn of haar rechten.”

[6]BARNES (I.) and CARLIN (L. L.). DAT III: English list (draft). Last consultation 18/02/2013, (List compiled for the third edition of the Dictionnary on Archival Terminology)

[7] WEBB (C.). ‘The malleability of fire: preserving digital information.’ In: FEATHER (J.) (red.). Managing Preservation for Libraries and Archive. Current Practice and Further deveopments. Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004, p.28.

[8] VAN OOST (O.) en POPPE (J.). ‘Archipel. Een netwerkvisie voor digitale duurzaamheid.’ In: Ibid., p. 14. (Dutch text).

[9] COPPENS (H.). ‘Inleiding.’ In: VAN DEN EECKHOUT (P.) and VANTHEMSCHE (G.). Bronnen voor de studie van het hedendaagse België, 19de -21ste eeuw. Brussels, Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis – Commission royale d’Histoire, p. 11. (Dutch text, my own translation).

[10] SCHAUVLIEGHE, op.cit., p. 6.

[11] Please note that AMSAB is an organisation pertaining to private law (infra). But, because the Royal Historical Commission is a public institution, I have placed this site under “public archives”.

[12] GUBIN (E.) (Et al.). Dictionnaire des femmes belges: XIXe et XXe siècles. Brussels, Racine, pp. 307-308.

[13] The Flemish equivalent of the “Académie royale de Belgique” is the “Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten”, [Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts]. This site doesn’t contain primary sources.

[14] The Dutch and English sites are concise versions of the French site.

[15] The archives of the universities are listed alphabetically under the name of the city/municipality in which the university is based.

[16] The archives of the cities are listed alphabetically under the name of the city/municipality.

[17] The word “Gichten” is quite hard to translate and it is not our task to explain it in its full meaning. It could probably be described, quite broadly,  as ‘deeds of aldermen.’ See: DUMONT (A.). Verzameling van begrippen en trefwoorden voorkomend in doop – trouw – en begraafboeken en andere genealogische bronnen. 5e editie. Last consultation 8/02/2013, (Dutch text).

[18] These archial institutions are mentioned in: VAN DEN EECKHOUT and VANTHEMSCHE, op.cit., pp. 738-750. Please note that originally there were only four recognised Flemish archives pertaining to private law: AMSAB, Liberaal Archief, ADVN and Kadoc. In 2002, a decree recognised 8 other archives (DACOB, Karel Cuyperscentrum, AMVB and five “theme”-archives (In: Ibid., p. 738).