Tag Archives: belgian archives

Getting copies of the alien files

In other articles I have explained a bit about the Antwerp alien files (immigrant files) and about the indexes through which you could find the file number of your relatives alien file (click here for the complete Table of contents). In this article it is my intention to explain how to get copies of the alien files you are looking for at the FelixArchief (Antwerp Archives).

Note: Since April 2015 much of the alien files are directly downloadable via the websites of the FelixArchief (see below). For other´s, you may still require to use the website of Familysearch.org which has part of the collection online on its website. Read more about this collection (which originally comes from the FelixArchief collection): 
https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Belgium,Antwerp,_Police_Immigration(FamilySearch_Historical_Records). The information in this article is thus only for the records which are not yet available online (through http://zoeken.felixarchief.be or https://familysearch.org/search): When you have found the file number of your relative’s alien file, you can continue to the next step which is finding out on which microfilm the file is and where to find that microfilm. This of course is on condition that the file was microfilmed since not all files were put on microfilm yet. For the files which were not microfilmed yet, there is another procedure but let’s start with finding the microfilmed files. Reminder: Before continuing, you’ll need first the file numbers, see for instructions and details on how to use the indexes in my other article: Using the indexes to the alien files at the FelixArchief. Let’s assume that we are looking for file number 163741 which we found in the indexes after searching for Abraham Timberg’s file number in the indexes. Now open in your web browser the following page: http://zoeken.felixarchief.be and click on the tab ‘Mijn mandje’ (translation: My basket): This will Continue reading Getting copies of the alien files

How to subscribe to the online services of the Antwerp Archives

Please note that I am not affiliated with the Antwerp Archives although I strongly support them. Therefore, don’t contact the archives for any question which relates specifically to my website. Only contact them for matters which are related to them and their services.

For some services on the website of the Antwerp Archives (the “Felix Archief”), you first need to sign up (for free) which can be done online. I suggest that you start working on the website without signing up. On accessing most of the objects, you’ll be required to sign in as a user. If you don’t have yet a login and password, then this is the moment to sign up. You can do this on the logon screen which will be presented to you when you try to access a page which is only accessible to registered users. Click then on the word ‘hier’ in the sentence:

Heeft u nog geen bezoekersnaam of wachtwoord? Klik dan hier

(translation” If you don’t have yet a login and password, click here):

In the next screen you can Continue reading How to subscribe to the online services of the Antwerp Archives

An introduction to the alien/immigrants files at the FelixArchief (Antwerp Archives)

Microfilms at the FelixArchief

Many of the Jews citizens living in Antwerp around the turn of the 20th century were immigrants. In addition, while it is impossible to arrive at precise statistics, of the 65-75,000 Jews living in Belgium on the eve of World War II, at least 85 percent had arrived in the country after 1918. It is for that reason that I want to focus in this article on the alien files which probably are the most interesting for people who have had Jewish relatives in Antwerp. I hope to write in the future about other collections held by the Antwerp Archives.

How and by whom were the files assembled?
All new immigrants (except for the immigrants who are in certain privileged categories) who wanted to stay in Belgium, did have to contact the municipality of the place where they resided in.

The city council was in charge of some tasks imposed on them by the Belgian government such as:

A history of the Antwerp Archives (FelixArchief) and getting there

History of the archives:
The archives of the city of Antwerp started with two charters from 1221 which the city kept in a huge chest which was longer then two meters and which was called the ‘privilegiekom’.

Of each lock the key was kept by another councilmember of the city. Therefore only when all councilmembers were together, the chest could be opened (the chest is currently on view in the reading room of the Antwerp archives).

Me standing in front of that chest (I am holding an archival item which is not related to the chest)

Thanks to the growth of the city, and of the growing stack of documents, the chest did not meet anymore the expectations of the city. Another reason why the chest did not fulfill the requirements anymore at that time, is that until the French Revolution all departments of the city archived their own files, which means that there was no (centralized) ‘city archive’ like we know today in Antwerp.

In 1796 a city archivist was appointed who was in charge of storing and managing the archives. Until the first half of the 20th century the archives were kept in the town hall (the beautiful town hall was built in Renaissance style between 1561 and 1565). Since then the archives moved a few times. During the Second World War the most important pieces of the archives were kept near a moated castle near Rochefort (in the south of Belgium). After the war the archives moved to the Venusstraat in a building which purpose was not meant (yet) for archives, therefore part of the archives were temporarily moved to a building in the Meirbrug. On 15 December 1956 the building in the Venusstraat was refurbished and the archives were kept there for almost 50 years. It closed it doors to the public on May 1st, 2006.

In November 2006 the city archives Continue reading A history of the Antwerp Archives (FelixArchief) and getting there

Preparing your research at the Belgian State Archives

Because archives are not always only one block away from you, or because their opening times don’t suit you always well, you most probably will need to do as much preparatory and research work as possible before and after your visit. In order to know how to plan your visit to the archives the best way possible, it is of utmost importance to know what you should and what you should not expect at the archives.

It is for that reason that I’ll try to share in this article some of my personal tips for doing research in the Belgian state archives while focusing on the alien files (click here for an overview of other articles with tips ont doing research at the Belgian archives on this website).

I’ve explained a bit about the numbers which were assigned to each newly opened file (see: “An introduction to the Belgian Statearchives and its immigration files”). When you are looking for a specific relative, you obviously need to get the number of that immigrant’s file. Now, the reading room at the state archives have three sets of indices to the files at your disposal. These indices are copies of the originals. The originals can obviously not be borrowed out to the visitors, what you’ll get instead are the copies in various formats. The format of each copy depends on the index you’ll need, see later).

The originals of the indices are papers in an A3 format with small cards pasted on it. Each card has on it the number of the person’s file and very basic information of the persons such as the first and last names. Additionally to that information, you may find sometimes the date of birth, the place where s/he was born, the occupation of that person, the partner, etc.

An example of how the top row (with tree cards) of one copied A3 page from the index looks like on the microfilms (it did not come out clearly with my digital camera therefore I had to note it down on a piece of paper). Note the details in this index. On the top we see the starting letters for this page (TIMBER).You see for some people the details of the partner (the name, the file number, etc). For most of the people you see also the DOB and the place where they were born. The file number is obviously still the most important piece of information on these cards.

This all means that Continue reading Preparing your research at the Belgian State Archives

The State Archives in Belgium: Getting there

(See also the links at the end of this article)

How to get there:
The State Archives of Belgium are on the following address:

rue de Ruysbroeck 2
1000 Brussels
phone: +32 2 513 76 80

View larger map

It is easy to get there by taxi or public transportation. The national airport of Belgium, which is situated in Zaventem near Brussels, is about 14.4 km (8.95 miles) away and it takes about 16 minutes to drive by car (without traffic).

The museum district “Kunstberg – Mont des Arts”:
The archives are near the Kunstberg which in French is called Mont des Arts (hill of Arts).

That area in fact serves as the Museum District of Brussels which was conceived by King Léopold II. King Léopold II decided to turn the whole district into what today is known as the Mont des Arts. The King dreamed of making Brussels a modern and cultural capital city and Mont des Arts the treasure of his country and witness to the history of Belgium.

A plate memorializing Belgian kings Leopold II for conceiving the Mont des Arts, king Leopold III for implementing it and king Baudouin/Boudewijn I for establishing it. The Mont des Arts was dedicated to the memory of king Albert I

The Mont des Arts is situated in about the same area which was known as the “Jewish Continue reading The State Archives in Belgium: Getting there

An introduction to the Belgian Statearchives and its immigration files

The Public Safety Organization:
In 1840 the Belgian state, which was founded in 1830, entrusted the Public Safety (in Dutch: Openbare Veiligheid, in French: Sûreté Publique, in German:Öffentlichen Sicherheit) which was an autonomous board under the Minister of Justice, to monitor the aliens on its territory.

Note: Both Dutch, French and German are spoken in specific parts of Belgium as can be seen on the following map:

In order to preserve public order, the Public Safety Organization had to remove undesired aliens from Belgium’s territory. In order to be able to implement this order, they had to rely on the support from the municipal authorities who had in their turn to report each registration of any alien in the register of the municipality as soon as possible to the Public Safety.

This Public Safety organization would then decide whether the person could remain in the country. If this was the case, the Public Safety organization would keep a close eye on the alien citizen during his or her stay in Belgium. All authorities, including the army and the judiciary, were supposed to forward any document about the foreigner to the Public Safety Organization.

How was the information collected:
Most information was obviously gathered from aliens who voluntarily went to the municipalities to register. In addition, information was directly obtained by the police who found foreigners on Belgian territory and of foreigners that had to resort to the use of public services such as hospitals, etc.

Some files were opened on aliens even though they never reached Belgian territory. The organization opened these files preventively for “subversive” and possible criminal foreigners in order to be prepared in case they would enter Belgian territory.

When the foreigner in question passed away or Continue reading An introduction to the Belgian Statearchives and its immigration files

Old, Older, Oldest Big,Bigger, Biggest at the Archives

I went recently to the archives from Antwerp where I do collect from time to time files and other information for my family research.

During my research I usually try to understand and focus on several topics which I do come across and about which I do tend to post from time to time some articles on this website.
One of the topics I am currently focussing on, and about which I hope to post in the near future, is the district distribution in the city of Antwerp.

As part of this research I did request to have a look in the file about the reconstruction of the sewers. This interesting file contains a few Continue reading Old, Older, Oldest Big,Bigger, Biggest at the Archives

The meaning of the acronym A.A.C.B. in the Belgian immigration files

During my research in the Belgian archives, I came across a few files in which a document had the following acronym “A.A.C.B.”:

Source: Antwerp Immigration File no.175159 (Dorf Wolf - Kapelna Frieda)

I, as curious as I am always, was wondering about the meaning of that acronym.

During genealogy research (and I assume that this is true for each research), each small part, can have a significant meaning with implications for the outcome of research. Therefore I try to understand as much as possible of each small element. Thanks to this approach I do learn quite a lot new things about history, culture, politics, etc.

To get back on topic; I did receive the explanation from the very helpful employees at the Antwerp archives (www.felixarchief.be).
They told me that A.A.C.B. stands for “Ambtelijke Afschrijving College Besluit” which roughly translated into English means cancelling the citizenship by official decision of the authorities and the file was closed for the person in question.

The reason for a A.A.C.B. can be one of the following:

Immigration files in Archives of Antwerp & State Archives of Belgium

In the courtyard of the Felixpakhuis complex

I posted a few times in a few newsgroups/forums with as subject Jewish Genealogy a short explanation on the files in the Belgian archives.
I hope to publish once an article on my blog with more details about my experience in the archives, for the moment being I think it could be useful for other researchers to read the following short explanation according to my view:

Usually all documents were kept in twofold. One copy stayed in the city/town and the other copy went to the state archives in Brussels.
In Antwerp you have a few boroughs which have separate administrations and were independent cities/towns . Nowadays these cities/towns are part of Antwerp, the most interesting boroughs for Jews researching their ancestors is: Borgerhout, Berchem and Antwerpen. The archives from the other boroughs besides, Antwerp, are not in the felixarchief (each city could choose whether to save the files or whether to throw them away). Continue reading Immigration files in Archives of Antwerp & State Archives of Belgium