Using the indexes to the alien files at the FelixArchief

If you know about a relative who immigrated via Antwerp to Belgium, you can find his alien file at the Antwerp Archives (FelixArchief).

In an earlier article on the Antwerp Archives (FelixArchief), I summarized which files are already in the archives (see An introduction to the alien/immigrants files at the Antwerp Archives). But before you can take a look at the files, you need its file number. In this article I will show how to find the file number via the indexes (there are other ways to find out the file number like police reports, censuses, deportation orders, etc).

The indexes which are in the possession of the FelixArchief (Antwerp Archives) cover the following range of years:

  • 1840-1874
  • 1875-1885
  • 1886-1900
  • 1901-1915
  • 1916-1930
  • 1931-1950
  • 1951-1961
  • 1962-1970
  • 1971-1990’s

Here are a few examples of how these indexes look like. As you can see, each row contains the file number, the names, and the place and date of birth.
This example is from the index of 1886-1900 with some people whose surnames were Timberg:

Here is another example with a part of two subsequent pages from the index of 1916 – 1930 with more people whose surnames were Timberg :

Getting the indexes:
There are different ways to get to the information of the indexes which is relevant for your research:

  • The Antwerp archives (via their website)
  • The “B&F browser interface”
  • The “FamilySearch” website

Getting the information via the Antwerp archives:
You can get the indexes which are open to the public in a digital format via their website. In the overview below you can see the list of indexes they have with the respective links to get to the indexes on the website of the Antwerp archives (note: you need to sign in before you can access the files with the indexes on their website, see for instructions the following link : How to subscribe to the online services of the Antwerp Archives):

1840-1874 http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=23
1875-1885 http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=24
1886-1900 http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=25
1901-1915 http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=26
1916-1930 http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=27
1931-1950 http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=205241
– not yet open to the public
1951-1961 http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=205242
– not yet open to the public
1962-1970 http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=205243
– not yet open to the public
1971-1990’s http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/Home.aspx?id_isad=215859
– not yet open to the public

First you click on one of the links from the list above to get to its corresponding index. Here is a screenshot of the website of the FelixArchief with a link to the index for the years 01/01/1840 – 31/12/1874. Click now on the tab “Digitaal Beschikbaar” (digitally accessbile).:

This will open the following tab:

You can now click on one of the plus symbols and work your way through until you get to the image you need. Click on the image you are interested in:

You can alternatively mark all or part of the letters in the tree. Then scroll down and click on “Zip aanvragen” (request a compressed file):

You should then see a message in green letters stating that your request was sent (the green colored number tells you the size of the file ). You will soon thereafter receive an automatic e-mail with a link to the file you requested and then you can view it offline on your pc:

The e-mail with the link:

Advantages vs. disadvantages of this system:

  • The advantage is that you can download all indexes on your local pc
  • The disadvantage of working like this is that you will have to go through all years if you don’t know the exact year of your ancestor’s arrival in Antwerp. But in case you know the exact year of your ancestor’s arrival, you can just go to the correct range of years and find the ancestor on the correct page in the index.
  • Another disadvantage is that the files to download are huge.

Getting the information via the “B&F browser interface”
An easier way (in my opinion) is a private website of someone who has already downloaded all files from the Antwerp archives which he then put on his website. He calls that part of his website the “B&F browser interface”. The url is http://trauring.net/antwerp/:

The B&F interface at http://trauring.net/antwerp/:

The usage of that website is straightforward. It also has a short explanation and introduction. Therefore I will not delve too much into this.

Advantages vs. disadvantages of this system:

  • One disadvantage which we had when we used the website of the FelixArchief is solved because you don’t have to download the huge files anymore.
  • The main advantage is that it is very easy to browse through the different indexes while the size of the files is much lower than on the website of the Antwerp archives.
  • The disadvantage of working like this is that you will have to go through all years if you don’t know the exact year of when your ancestor arrived in Antwerp. But in case you know the exact year of your ancestor’s arrival, you can just go to the correct range of years and find the ancestor on the correct page in the index.

Getting the information via FamilySearch.org/search
FamilySearch.org/search is provided by the Mormons. There has been some discussion on the goal of the Mormons and why they are trying to collect as many as possible records from archives all over the world. Not everyone is happy about the fact that they try to baptize people posthumously. Some take no offence at it all. You can read more about this issue which lately has been gaining more and more attention on some of the links below:

This all means that you never know if they’ll be able to provide the same service( an online, free and automatic index to the alien files) in the future as they do now. I hope that they will because it is easy to use, it is free, and working via their website and tools is attractive.

To start searching the indexes you go to the main website which is www.familysearch.org/search:

At the bottom you will find the list with areas. Click your way through to Europe which will bring you to another page with a list. Click on the link which is called Belgium, Antwerp Police Immigration Index, 1840-1930:

This will bring you the following page:

Enter the first name and/or last name. In my case I entered Timberg as the last name for which I received 20 results:

You can now click on the arrow next to each name on the right site, or on the name. Here is an example:

Within the red square (added by me in the screenshot) you will find the file number. Following is the same information:

We found the same file number (in this case 163741) information already via the website of the Antwerp Archives (see earlier in this text).
The information on FamilySearch comes from the original indexes, but it was transcribed by volunteers, therefore there are some mistakes which means that it can be useful to visually validate that the information on FamilySearch is correct before you head to the Antwerp Archives. You can do this when you click on the name of the person, which will bring you the following screen:

On this page you can now click on “View image” which will show you the same image as on the website of the Antwerp Archives and the “B&F browser interface”:

You can download the image, zoom in, zoom out, rotate it, etc.

Advantages vs. disadvantages of this system:

  • It is the easiest way : no need to manually browse all images, no need to download any files, etc.
  • One disadvantage is the error rate in their transcriptions. Therefore you may want to recheck the file number before getting the actual alien files from the Antwerp Archives. Also the names can be transcribed with errors but that is in my opinion less of an issue if you are using these indexes to find out which files you need to get from the archives and you can anyway recheck a copy of the microfilm online via the website of FamilySearch from the convenience of your home.

In another article I will explain how to prepare best to get the files for viewing at the Antwerp Archives.

Note:In this article I discussed ways how to use the advantages of It and Internet to get the file numbers. There are of course also indexes on paper which you can download on the website of the Felix Archief (see here: http://zoeken.felixarchief.be/zHome/HomeDocumentumFolder.aspx?document_id=09041acf80038b3b&format=pdf ), but in my opinion it would be a detour in contrast to the different ways described in this article.
Thank you: I want to thank Mrs. T. Sjenitzer for proofreading this article

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