Tag Archives: state archives

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

Jewish Records of Fürth (and its area)

The Fürht Jewish Museum (by: wikimedia commons - Magnus Gertkemper)

Recently someone asked via the gersig newsgroup (on Wed, 27 Jul 2011 03:43:05 -0400) about the availability of Jewish birth records from 1862 in Fürth (Bavaria). Another member’s reply was that there are dozens of postage stamp sized books for Fuerth vital registers at the Central Archives of the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem (CAHJP).

She continued to explain that

[…]”The books are painful to research and can only be read with a magnifying glass, and even then sometimes they are illegible because their sewn binding gets into the actual record and because much of the writing is very sloppy.”[…]

and

[…]”It is my understanding that in Germany, they have blown up these miniatures and have more legible records available.
If I am not mistaken, they are located at Detmold, or perhaps that is the place where they enlarged the miniatures. I am sure someone else will chime in with the proper details.”[…]

Which Fürth:
I checked with some Detmold archives but they did not know about microfilmed Jewish Vital Records and secondly, Detmold is in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and not in the state of Bavaria.

The city of Grevenbroich has a district called Fürth (Postal Code 41515). Grevenbroich is in the government district (Regierungsbezirk) of Düsseldorf, which is also the capital city of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Detmold itself is another government district of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Jewish vital records at the Nürnberg state archives:
The Nürnberg Staatarchiv told me that the Third Reich, more precisely the Reichssippenamt, attempted to seize and collect vital records (births, marriages and deaths) from all Jewish communities.

These Jewish vital records were Continue reading Jewish Records of Fürth (and its area)

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

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:

Hi,
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