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