Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Libramont: Funeral Card Albums and Record Index Online

Busy week for new discoveries!
Here is an amazing site full of images of funeral cards for the town of Libramont in Belgium.  Libramont  is well known for its annual agricultural fair. This year it will take place July 27-30.  Follow this link to find out more on the Fair.
As interesting as the Libramont Fair may be, it is not what brings me here this morning.
A friend shared a link to a site sponsored by the Cercle Art et Histoire de Libramont-Chevigny.
It contains a series of albums of funeral cards that can be browsed through with the help of indexes.

At the top of the page, on the left you will see a + sign next to "Menu de la galerie"
It will pull down into three choices:

- Classement par Nom = Index by Surname
The pull down menu gives you an alphabetical listing

It looks like there is no other way but to open each image to see if there is one for you. Click on the image and get the full size one

 - Classement par Lieu = Index by Location (Naissance: birth and/or Deces: death)
works pretty much the same way, except you can pick between birth and death place

- Classement par  Date = Index by Date

Back to the Main "Home" page (Page d'Accueil)
Hover over "Généalogie" and look at the pull down menu

If you lose the link to the cards, they are found at the bottom of this menu under the bottom option
"Souvenirs mortuaires - GeneLibramont"

Notice also the other options:
1. Tables decennales de l'ardenne centrale: Libramont

 Ten-year tables are indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths spanning a decade, in this case 12 years: 1900-1912

Libramont > Naissances – 1900 1912 (births)
Libramont > Mariage – 1900 1912 (marriages)
Libramont > Décès – 1900 1912 (deaths)

Your 2nd option under the "Genealogie" heading:
2. Expo-Actes- GeneLibramont
will redirect you to an index of names that you can search in the same way that you would the Netradyle indexes but I could go no further than a listing and was redirected to GenWalBru, so something to check out further...

To become a member of the Cercle Art et Histoire de Libramont, visit this link:
You might consider simply emailing the contact person to see what procedures to follow for US citizens.  You will likely be provided a username and password necessary to access the ExpoActes search detail.

Under "L'entite", you will find a list of towns/villages that you can pick from and get a brief history on the location:

Under "Publications" you will find Books (Livres) and Revues (Newsletters)

that can be purchased

The "Bibliotheque" (Library) can only be accessed with a login.

You can become a member of a discussion group by clicking on "Forum" but you will need to send an email request to  forum@cercle-art-histoire-libramont-chevigny.be 
A good place to announce the additions made to the ExpoActes site.

In the meantime, have fun with the funeral cards and the tables at least!

Till next time!


Was one of your Belgian family members a soldier during WW1?

Then you should check this site: 

"The Golden Book of Firecard" aka “Guldenboek der Vuurkaart” in Dutch or "Livre d'Or des Cartes du Feu" in French is a compilation of cards issued to soldiers who fought during World War I published between 1933 and 1940: 8 in Dutch and 8 in French.

These books were indexed a few years ago and are now available online.

Not every soldier who fought during WWI is listed in these books as not everyone was interested in filling out the form required to have their card published.
For that reason, if you do not find your family member listed in the index, you can have his name added and his story told by contacting Marc Verlinden

You can browse thru the books but it might be more productive to first check the index.

Say you are looking for
Felicien ABSIL
You will need to look in book 33-34 p449 (image 449)

There are symbols under the pictures. A link enables you to download a 2 page-pdf file containing a legend for these and other abbreviations.

In the case of Felicien ABSIL:

he was from Namur, a soldier who received the Ordre de Leopold II medal, the Croix de Guerre, the Medaille de la Victoire and the Medaille Commemorative de la Guerre 1914-1918.  Not sure I understand the other numbers and letter "7 ch. fr" or "1 ch. bl" but you can always inquire on their forum:

Regimental histories are also available if you know the regiment in which your family member served.  I have only one complaint: the content of those pages are yellow print on white background.

Using Felicien ABSIL as an example again, the index shows he served in the 1 Grenadier.
I highlighted the page to see what I was looking at and found that the 1st and 2nd Grenadier histories were grouped.  The history is in Dutch so you might want to highlight, copy and paste it into a translation software if you don't read Dutch.  It might not be perfect but will give you the gist of things.  For a better translation you might want to request someone's help on a forum.

The site is available in three languages: Dutch, English and French.

Happy Hunting!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Long live Belgium! Long live King Phillip!

Meet King Phillip and Queen Mathilde!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Special: King Albert II Abdicates

At Noon EST, 18:00 Belgian time, Albert II, King of the Belgians, who celebrated his 79th birthday last month, announced that he could no longer continue to maintain the standard he had set to carry his duties as King of the Belgians and so he felt it was time to pass the torch to the next generation. His son Prince Philippe will follow his father and will be sworn in on July 21st.
RTBF has prepared a very nice video presentation recounting the story of Albert's life.
This is a first in Belgian history and it is not bad. King Albert II was a good king and it is nice to know we can celebrate his reign and not be lost in mourning his life.
King Philippe should be a good king too. He has been preparing for this for a long time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tapping Local Knowledge: Yahoogroups

This morning I received an email from th Verviers_bonne-ville Yahoogoup announce the upload of yet another treasure provided by the dedication of Christine Smolders.  A few years ago she set out to make available indexes to Belgian Civil Registers for the Verviers area of Belgium.

She has had some help but has done most of the work on her own.
Here is a list of the towns for which you will find indexes in their Files folder online:
- Basse Bodeux
- Dison
- Ensival
- Heusy
- Hodimont
- Jalhay
- LaGleize
- Lambermont
- Malmedy
- Montzen
- Moresnet
- Neufchateau (Dalhem)
- Nockin
- Olne
- Polleur
- Petit-Rechain
- Rahier
- Sart-lez-Spa
- Spa
- Stembert
- Stoumont
- Theux
There are also other files uploaded among which images of area registers submitted by Marie-Josee Deroanne and maps by Pierre Nisin.

This morning the message announced the upload of a file on births recorded between 1813 and 1822 in Sart-lez-Spa.  The message is in French as it is the main language used by that group but as we have talked about before, don't let that deter you from checking it out.  Google Translate  will give you a basic understanding of the message even though it is not likely going to be perfect.  There are other translating sites online such as World Lingo, Free Translation, Yahoo Babel Fish, not necessarily in this order.  Of late I have used Google Translate more but I want to make sure to reiterate that if you plan to use these translation programs, you need to make sure the person you are trying to communicate with  knows how you are doing so.

Anyway, back to this morning's email.
Because I subscribe to the Verviers_bonne_ville Yahoogroup, and have linked my email address to a Yahoo ID, all I need to do is click on the link in the message below to access the file.

From: Verviers_bonne_ville@yahoogroupes.fr
Subject: [Verviers_bonne_ville] Nouveau fichier sur Verviers_bonne_ville
To: Verviers_bonne_ville@yahoogroupes.fr
Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 12:04 AM
Veuillez noter qu'un fichier a été envoyé au groupe Verviers_bonne_ville.
En voici les caractéristiques :
Fichier : /SART-lez-SPA Naissances 1813-1822.pdf
Envoyé par : chsmolders <fachg-hurlet@scarlet.be>
Description :
Pour accéder à ce fichier, allez sur :

Linking your email address to a Yahoo ID is common to ALL Yahoogroups.
It works the same way to access our group's files or photo albums or archived messages.
It is easy and safe, and very much self-explanatory but requires your following their steps nonetheless.
Most if all it is usually well worth your trouble.  This Verviers_bonne_ville group has a lot of information available to their group members and it is the case with most groups.

Sometimes it is not easy to find the groups however so we have begun a list under LINKS on our webpage: 

You will find that there are groups for every Province of Belgium but also some for specific professions and interests such as the following: 

Plagues and Daily Life of our Ancestors:  


About POWs and otherwise deported people:

About Military History and records:

About Traveling people like Circus people, singers, and all sorts of other professions:

Remember that these groups offer free help or at least an opportunity for free advice.
Although there is always a chance you will find a professional genealogist that may give you his price, most of the help offered here is offered in good will and although nobody ever requires thanks, these are always welcomed and usually ensure that other researchers who follow you will also be helped.
Because of this, offering your help in return is appreciated all the more.
You might not be able to render service to group where you found help but you would definitely be able to help with a group local to you.

Till next time!  Have fun!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

French Archives: Civil Registers Images Online

 Emigration is nothing new.  As long as people have been trying to better their circumstances, or been adventurous, there has population movement across continents and across oceans.  Belgians have left their mark all across Europe and the World at large.
At the end of the 19th century, the movement between France and Belgium was also a relatively common one. 
Miners, farmers, glass workers commonly moved across the borders back and forth, so you might very well find births, marriages and deaths in the French Archives that are online today.
The following map shows you what Departements have already uploaded their registers.

Migrating back and forth was common along the borders and Belgians have been found in the registers of border counties in France, Germany, Holland and Luxemburg.
Today I would like to talk about those who moved to Northern France.  
Miners, glass and steel workers have been found in the NORD Department (59) (Aniche, Berlaimont,...)
Thanks to a discussion group "Ancêtres en Avesnois" and Daniel Blondel, we have been able to find answers for researchers or direct them to the right place anyway.
The Cercle Historique et Généalogique de Berlaimont hosts a site similar to that of GeneDinant and NetraDyle where record index can be accessed up to the date: http://www.chgb.org/

Membership in their Genealogical Society is required to access the details.
There you will find information on people living in the "Arrondissement" of  Avesnes Sur Helpe and its neighboring town, also called the "Avesnois": Avesnes-Sur-Helpe Nord, Avesnes-Sur –Helpe Sud, Bavay, Berlaimont, Hautmont, Landrecies, Maubeuge Nord, Maubeuge Sud, Le Quesnoy Est, le Quesnoy Ouest, Solre-Le-Château, Trélon.

If you click on "connexion" or "Conditions d'Acces" at the bottom of the Research Block on the left side of the page you will be directed to this page, containing a direct link to the archives of  the Departement du Nord site

which will bring you here:

In the Orange box on the Left side of the page, you will see:
Etat Civil = Civil Register
Cadastre = Land Record Office
Recensements = Census
Matricules Militaires = Military registrations
Iconographie = Images

The Civil Register contains two groups of records:
- ten-year tables (tables decennales)
- records (actes)
It might be helpful - especially if you don't know when the person you are looking for might be found - to use the ten-year tables first as they contain alphabetical listings that will also list a date.  You can then go back to the 'Actes" and look for the date.
Hopefully you know the name of the town because you will need to pick one from the menu before having a choice of registers to look at.  The earlier indexes may be very helpful for this purpose.

I recently looked for a Belgian named HOYAUX in "Berlaimont" and since many Belgians emigrated there, it might be a great example to use. I left it on "Tous" for "All types of records", and clicked on the orange "Rechercher" (Search) button.

Click on the name of the town "Berlaimont" for the Tables available and find
You will not see the results as above as I clicked on the + button next to each type of record.
Naissances = Births
Mariages = Marriages
Deces = Deaths

Click on one of the new + buttons next to one set of records and see the digital images available

Click on the image to view the table images.  You will have to either thumb through the images or guess according to the alphabet where to find the letter - in my case H, for HOYAUX.

You will also be able to zoom in and out. Just try the different buttons above and below to see how they work.  You won't hurt anything.

Once you have found your date, go back to the "Archives en Ligne" page and click on "Etat Civil" again, and choose "Actes" for "Berlaimont", and add the type of record you are looking for.

and find

Click on the time frame you want and access the images.

You will get to the first page so be prepared to thumb through to the date you are looking for.

Let's go back to the beginning...
Under Cadastre you will find two sets of maps.
- the land register called du "Consulat"
- the land register "napoléonien"
These first maps cover the beginning of the 19th century while the second maps cover a larger time frame going into the beginning of the20th century for certain towns.
If you speak French (if not try, google translate to get the main idea) - go to this page for detailed explanation of what the differences between them are.
Just remember to click in the left column to access the maps

Under Recensements, you will find the 1906 census as it is the most thorough.  Lille was not submitted so it is missing at this time.

Under Matricules Militaires:

You will have two choices again: 
- Tables des matricules: this option will help you find information about young men who registered for military duty when 20 years old, in one of the Conscription offices of the Departement du Nord.
Here you will find the tools you need to access the correct registration papers:  the volume number and the registration number (Matricule)

- Fiches matricules (registration cards): or military file are organized:
     - by age group (ie the year during which a conscripted individual turned 20y old, the legal age for military service),
     - by registration office  (5 or 6 depending on the year),
     - then by registration number. Each register counts about 500 cards, in numerical order.

This really is an awesome tool.
There are rules and regulations of course but as long as you do not use these for any other purpose than personal use, you will have no problem.

If you are interested in other departements you may find slight differences in the formatting and you might even find some other types of records.  Don't be afraid to try.  You can't hurt anything!
Have fun!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bibliotheca Andana

On March 28, 2012, a new site was officially announced which enables researchers to access at present about 75,000 beautifully digitized records for the most part presented for the fist time, from private collections, from the Museum, the Library or the Archives of the city of Andenne.

The site is the product of many years of hard work supported by the Echevinat de la Culture and the city of Andenne, Belgium.  I introduce to you Bibliotheca Andana

Among the images you will find
post cards,  books, old local newspapers, funeral cards and notices, and last but by far not least, the images of Civil Registers for the towns of
Andenne, Bonneville, Coutisse, Landenne, Maizeret, Namêche, Sclayn, Seilles (work still in progress), Thon-Samson, Vezin

Also Passports of two kinds: some used for travel within the country, some used to travel abroad.  These  also provide a physical description of the bearer, like the WWI Draft Registration Cards in the US.

I will attempt to translate pertinent information here below:

Civil Register Records
Today the Civil Registry is now made up of records of birth, marriage and death kept pursuant to the "Civil Code".
It is into the hands of the College of Aldermen that section 125 of the New Law expressly commends the duty of keeping such records.  The Mayor acts as the officer of the Civil Register and is "specifically instructed to observe all that concerns the records and record keeping."
The New Municipal Act succeeded the Municipal Law of March 30, 1836, from which Article 93 derived similar provisions.  Article 131 ordered the city council to account annually for the cost of maintaining the Civil Registry, as outlined in Article L 01/01/1321 ° of the code of local democracy and decentralization.
The Municipal Law of 30 March 1836 confirmed, with respect to the registrar of civil status, a principle enshrined in Article 109 of the Belgian Constitution of February 7, 1831 as currently in section 164 of the revised Constitution February 17, 1994: "The drafting of civil register records and record keeping are exclusively within the competence of municipal authorities."
The Belgian Constitution and Municipal Law of 30 March 1836 thus secularized the Civil Registry born out of the French decree of 20 September 1792, applied in Belgium by the Executive Directory decree of 29 Prairial, Year IV (17 June 1796), Belgium having been annexed to France by the decree of 9 Vendémiaire IV (October 1, 1795).
This marks the moment when local secular authorities really began to take charge of the Civil Registry.
The decree of September 20, 1792 is basic: it determines the mode of recognition of the civil status of citizens, mode of observation which was previously in the hands of ecclesiastics.
The separation of Belgium from France, brought by the treaty of May 31, 1814, did not significantly change things except for changing the words for Mayor to Burgmeister and the Deputy Mayor became known as the alderman or the assessor.  The matter was settled, during the short lived Dutch period, by Article 59 of Regulation of 19 January 1824 for the administration of cities and by Articles 77 and 95 of the Regulation of 23 July 1825 for the administration of "low country" (rural municipalities).

To access the images of the available registers, go to  http://www.bibliotheca-andana.be/
In the black Menu Bar, hover over "Etat Civil" then choose a town among those available:

Click on the town's name of your choice. I picked Maizeret:

Choose between the type of record you want to examine:
Naissances = Births
Mariages = Marriages
Décès = Deaths
Tables annuelles = annual indexes
Tables décennales = 10y tables = indexes of names

Let's say I want to look at the births
I click on "Naissances" and a list of years available comes up on the next page, like this:
Click on the year of your choice and you will come to the record images which you will have to open one at a time.  They are in pdf format so make sure your computer has Adobe Reader.  If you need to download it, go to www.adobe.com and download the free Adobe Reader.

 To view the record image, click on the red link "Telechargez ..."

At the bottom of the page the zoom in and out option that come in pdf format will enable you to better look at the record and save it too.

Under the other headings you will find local postcards, photos as the titles indicate.
Under "Documents" you will find
- posters of different types, advertisements, etc
- business cards, and other business letterhead items
- bills issued from a variety of businesses for various items
- promotional items, catalogs
- maps and blueprints
- envelopes
- funeral announcements/cards

Under "Livres" you will find a variety of local history books in review.  They are not downloadable unfortunately.

Under "Journaux" you will find 9 old local newspapers that you can read online or save.

Under "Registres" hides a series of decisions and minutes from local authorities' meetings.

Under "Dossiers" expect an amalgam of papers pertaining to a particular topic.

More explanations on how records were kept:

Parish Registers
The decree of September 20, 1792 provides that "municipalities will receive and retain from here on, records intended to witness births, marriages and deaths"; it treats, under Title VI, the fate of the old parish registers:
"... Within a week after the publication of this decree, the mayor or a municipal officer ... shall be required ... to go to clerks of the Parish churches, presbyteries and deposit records of all religions, where they will develop an inventory of all existing records in the hands of priests and other stakeholders. Current records will be closed and approved by the mayor or municipal officer ";
    under Article 2, "all books, both old and new, will be taken to and deposited at the town hall";
    Finally, under section 4: "... Within two months from the publication of this decree, an inventory of all registers of baptisms, marriages and burials existing in the court registries will be created.  Within one month after that, records and inventory will be entrusted to the  attorney generals ...for transport and deposit in the department’s archives "
While the Civil Registry (Births, Marriages, Deaths) has been kept by the secular administration since 1792, Parish Registers were kept by clergymen who recorded baptisms, marriages and burials. These church records, at the time, carried as much legal weight as the Civil Registry, which is no longer the case.
The keeping of these church records originated with legislation in part secular and in part religious in origin, which can easily be traced back to the Ordinance of Villers-Coterets, and is actually older.
The order, which was enacted by Francois I, King of France, on August 25, 1539, is the work of Chancellor William POYET, hence the name of Guillelmine or Guillemine that it was sometimes given. it covers the registrers of burials (Article 50) and baptisms (Article 51). Section 53 requires the Chapters, convents and cures to file annually with the registry records of the headquarters of "bailiff" or "royal seneschal" for preservation and to use it when needed.

Other texts of interest
-    The proceedings of the Council of Trent (24th session of November 11, 1563), by which Parish priests were ordered to record the names of godparents in the baptismal register. These annotations were based on purely religious grounds, indeed, at the time, the spiritual relationship created at baptism, translated into marriage impediments.  The Council of Trent circumscribed it so as to avoid the disadvantages arising from the multiplicity of spiritual alliances, contracted only by godparents.
-    The order called "of Blois", work of Chancellor Hurault Cheverny, which dated back to May 1579. Under Article 40, we can not marry without "prior proclamations made by three different holidays, with appropriate intervals" and, in order to show that proper form was observed for these weddings, at least four trustworthy people will, attend, which will be written into the record.
 -   The order called "Saint-Germain-en-Laye" also called "Code Louis," of April 1667. This ordinance standardizes the preparation of records. It requires signature of the godparents on baptismal records; of spouses and witnesses on marriage records; of both parents, or friends present on burial records, confirming what was already done in many areas.
-    A royal decree of Louis XV dated April 9, 1736: there will be kept in every Parish in the kingdom two copies of registers, both considered authentic before the courts, to record baptisms, marriages and burials which would be used through the course of year.  These registers would be provided at the expense of the Fabrique. All records of baptism, marriage and burial would be kept in these registers, chronologically with no blanks, and would be signed by those who must.  Both registers would have to be signed by the officiator, contracting parties and witnesses.
-    The order and perpetual edict of sovereign princes and archdukes of July 12, 1611: given the frequent difficulty in proving one’s age "when getting married or at someone’s death, magistrates and other legal representatives, for towns as well as villages, are directed to collect an authentic copy of the registers of baptism, marriages, and burials that every priest has held in his parish. This duplicate register should be sent to the clerks of the City Registry… for preservation.

What a wonderful site for  us to use!
If you have a minute, click on "remerciements" to discover those who made the site possible for us!
And share with your friends on Facebook!  And at the bottom right of the page, sign up for updates. ("S'inscrire au flux RSS")

Have fun!


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