Friday, August 12, 2011

How to Help with The “Belgians in the US Census” Project

By Guy Gallez

The idea to develop a census template came to me after a member of TBR volunteered to help retrieve the Belgians who lived in Michigan in 1930, using the microfilm images available for free at

A quick look at the number of microfilms to view (106 total), each approximately 1,100 pages long, convinced me not only of the enormity but also of the impracticability of the task at hand. So I suggested creating lists of persons using’s index and see if it was possible to link this information with the microfilms available at Internet Archive.

After much stumbling I found a system which, although far from perfect, makes it realistically possible for someone with internet access to help move this project forward.

I added the link to the microfilm # and to the corresponding page within the microfilm. However, although the link to the microfilm causes no problem, the link to the page number is something else. I kept the Ancestry page # but there is a discrepancy in matching with Internet Archive. The matching page for a particular entry is usually not too far from the given number, at most 5 pages ahead or behind the number.

What I did for the 1930 Census for the state of Michigan, I applied to the other states and the other census that we have not done yet, as well. That is how the list of Belgians found in the complete 1880 census is now available on our TBR website. Each web page contains one State/County, the ones with a lot of names are divided further into State/County/Township. Some, particularly in Wisconsin, even covered several web pages.

In the first column, you find the microfilm#
In the second, the (approximate) page where to pull the information for the listed name.
This list covers, not only the people born in Belgium but also those for whom at least one parent was born there.

For those who would like to try themselves at this and help us finish the 1880 census, here is how to proceed:

To transcribe a county or part of one, go to our webpage at and pick the census page you want to help with. Copy and Paste into your own Spreadsheet software (Excel, MicrosoftWorks or other)

Note: if it’s easier for you, just contact me and I will send you the county of your choice, already in a spreadsheet format.

Important: before beginning, contact me at
It is possible another person has chosen to work on the same county or that the work has already been done.

Here is what Mobile County, Alabama looks like in Excel2003.
Only two townships: Mobile and Spring Hill.
The first column gives the reel number and the second the approximate page on which to find the information.

Go to the Internet Archives site (

In the “Search” box, type
- the census year
- the word “census”
- the name of the state
- the reel number in 4 digits – so if it’s 25, enter it 0025
So here you would type: 1880 census Alabama 0025
And click “Go”
Your results should show as follows

Click on the link to obtain the next image.

At this point you will be able to choose to:
- Read Online or
- Save as a PDF file
Unless you want to save the file to your computer, the “Read Online” option is fine.

You are now on the roll’s first page.

Make sure you choose the ONE page mode rather than 2 (as set as default) so you can better manage the cursor on the page you are looking for. In this case we are looking for.
Here we are looking for page 234
Slide the hand to the right to advance faster to page 234
Zoom in to see better

After looking through the page you should find Leonard Dirke on page 232. As mentioned earlier, usually you will find the name you are looking for within a 10 pages range of the number given (5 ahead, 5 behind). That’s the big drawback in this method as the numbering system used by Ancestry is not exactly the same as the one used by Internet Archives. However once you have found the discrepancy, the difference seem to remain the same all through the reel.

If you need help with this, contact me - We can look at it together.

All you need to do after that is to type in the additional information found on the page (and correcting the page number if necessary).
- sex = M ou F
- S = single, M = Married W = Widowed, D = Divorced
- complete the spaces for occupation and birth places
- add the other family members
- possibly correct the spelling of the Name in parenthesis
- add notes if you need to
- insert a blank line to separate each family
- re-order the families as the Ancestry index does not take the order the census was taken in into consideration.

This should give you the end result that follows:

Then all you have left is "Spring Hill" on reel 24.
Go back to Internet Archives.
Search for 1880 census Alabama 0024 and follow the same procedure.

When you are finished, email me the spreadsheet to be uploaded on the website.
If you run into any trouble, just let me know and we will check it out together.
Thank You for your help!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Are you Looking for the History of Courcelles?

Some researchers dismiss the value of mailing lists and forums.
I have found true pearls on these networks. One such pearl was shared today by Pat on
A complete book on the town of Courcelles, in pdf format, searchable!
It is in French but don't be afraid to try Google Translate to get a fairly decent translation.
It is wonderful to see how researchers enthusiastically share the tools they find as they research online, thus keeping all from 'reinventing the wheel'!
Thank You Pat and Thank You to the person who posted this book!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New strategies to give online access to more records: part 2

Thank You to Hubert Barnich for giving the opportunity to look at the site at
Here is the list of the localities being digitized for this site:
Aye, Champlon, Grimbiemont, Hargimont, Hollogne, Humain, Lignieres, Marche, Marloie, On, Roy, Verdenne, Waha
There are already 48,020 TIF files

Here is a sample of what you can expect.
"How do I access these?", you ask...
First things first... You will need a username and password to log in.
This comes with membership in Wallonia ASBL

Once you have the login, you can search for the record using a variety of filters.
- By "Commune" (locality)
- By "Doc" (register or index)
- By "Type" (birth, marriage, death)
- By "Patronyme" (surname)
- By "Date"
or even by extension, which will give you ALL 48,020 images (=
Once you have located the file you want, just download it (telecharger)

The entity of Marche is joining forces with the genealogical society Wallonia ASBL in offering access to 1900-1910 digitized birth records at as a prelude to a special fair to be held on August 15th, 2011.
They invite the public to come to the fair and present a downloaded/printed copy of a birth record found on the site and exchange it for a researched pedigree chart retracing that person's ancestry back to the French Revolution - as long as you can explain how this person fits into your family tree, of course, and that it pertains to the old locality of Marche.

So, just click on the town that interests you to find an index of births linked to digital images.
Print this image and take it to the fair.
Here is the list of towns for which these are available - slightly different from the one listed above: Aye, Hargimont (+ Jemeppe), Humain (+ Havrenne), Marche, Marenne ( + Verdenne), On, Waha ( + Marloie, Champlon/Famenne, Hollogne), Roy

Of course Wallonia is also involved with ExpoActes.
Access to these indexes are reserved to members of Wallonia or those who participate in their indexing project.
You can find their subscription page here in English.

Their indexes on ExpoActes cover towns in the Namur and Luxembourg provinces area.

As of 7/21/2011 there were 204,553 records:
- 105,485 Births/Christenings
- 31,261 Marriages
- 65,701 Deaths/Burials
- 2,106 various records
which are progressively linked to digital records.

Of course, it is a work in progress, so help is always welcomed of course, and could save you some money too.

There is a link to a manual to use the search functions - in French - or you can refer back to one of our previous articles on another ExpoActes index sponsored by GeneDinant and Netradyle.

Hope you can get some use out of this information, and HAVE FUN!

Défilé du 21 juillet en live | RTBF

Défilé du 21 juillet en live | RTBF
Watch LIVE !

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New strategies to give online access to more records: part 1

Several organizations in Belgium have been plugging along indexing civil registers and parish registers and making the indexes available online for free and even giving access to the electronic copies of the original records.

How do they do this?

Simple. The Royal Archives don't have a true monopoly on these records as each locality retained a copy and has the right to make them available on their own.

One of the reasoning is that if more localities followed the example of the ones here, the Royal Archives would have to relinquish their grip and make the records available to all online. Civil Registry of the Campine, Antwerp Province
As of July 1, 2011, their indexes contained entries for 226,480 records from the Civil Registry and 35,514 records from various parish registers. The number of scanned records requested was 25,385.
Access the indexes by going to their home page at
Here are the available locations:
Endhout, Geel, Herentals, Herselt, Houtvenne, Hulshout, Morkhoven, Noorderwijk, Oevel, Olen, Tongerlo, Varendonk, Veerle, Vorst, Westerlo, Westmeerbeek, Zoerle Parwijs

EINDHOUT (Laakdal) Civil Registry 1797-1910 (6454 records)
Transcription of the tables of the parish registry 1659-1791
GEEL Civil Registry 1797-1907 (74.504 records)
Registry parish Zammel 1754 -1776 (694 records)
HERENTALS Civil Registry 1798 -1910 (33.389 records)
Parish registry 1775-1805 (4510 records) and 1584 -1796 (baptisms, 20.475 records)
HERSELT Civil Registry 1800 - 1881 (18.037 records)
HOUTVENNE (Hulshout) Civil Registry 1800 - 1910 (3335 records)
HULSHOUT Civil Registry 1813 - 1910 (in progress, 5926 records)
MORKHOVEN (Herentals) Civil Registry 1792 -1910 (3433 records)
NOORDERWIJK (Herentals) Civil Registry 1797 -1910 (7733 records)
Parish Registry 1605-1797 (baptisms 5545 records, marriages 1476 records, deaths 2814 records)
OEVEL (Westerlo) Civil Registry 1792 -1900 (5705 records)
OLEN Civil Registry 1802 -1910 (12.188 records)
Census 1867 -1880
TONGERLO (Westerlo) Civil Registry 1799 -1900 (10.496 records)
VARENDONK (Laakdal) Civil Registry 1801 - 1910 (1094 records)
VEERLE (Laakdal) Civil Registry 1803 - 1910 (in progress, 8336 records)
VORST (Laakdal) Civil Registry 1792 -1910 (13.943 records)
Parish registry 1598-1800 (baptisms and funerals)
WESTERLO Civil Registry 1802 -1900 (15.104 records)
WESTMEERBEEK (Hulshout) Civil Registry 1813 - 1910 (3697 records)
Conscription list 1851-1880
ZOERLE PARWIJS (Westerlo) Civil Registry 1802 - 1900 (3107 records)

Click on the coat of arms of the town in which you are researching and you will find a link to a zipped file containing spreadsheets of Births, Marriages and Deaths for that locality.
I don't think you will need a special program to unzip the file. It seemed to use IE to do this by itself.

If you want a look at the original record, go back to the page where you found the zipped file and click on "Scans" at the top of the page to request a copy.

There is no cost to you whatsoever.
If the file is small enough to email to you, you will find it in your mailbox. If not, they will upload it to their website with instructions on how to retrieve it. All they ask is that you let them know when you have downloaded it because they want to make sure they are not short on cyber space.

If you have time, you might consider giving some of it to help with this special project.
The site is tri-lingual so you should not have too much trouble using it.

This system is used by other groups and in fact I wanted to develop this article about 6 months ago already but got caught up in daily living.
I am waiting for the latest on this other group which offers records from the Marche-en-Famennes area and will share the additional information with you as soon as I get it.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Brussels City Archives Online

The news this morning is the RTBF announcement that the Brussels City Archives are now accessible online.
Check out this link
The article is in French so I will endeavor to expound in English.

Only a portion of the records is online as of yet: the City's "Livres d’Or" (golden Books), some Commerce and Industry Almanacs, and "Cahiers bruxellois".

The Golden Books

Since 1843 official dignitaries visiting the Hôtel de Ville in Brussels have been invited to sign the Golden Book.
These dignitaries were, for the most part, heads of state and foreign officials, invited by the burgomaster, but also included honored guests such as prominent artists or sports personalities. This signing usually takes place in the burgomaster's office at the start of the meeting and is often accompanied by a photo session.

These golden books are leather-bound and bear the city's symbol on the cover page: St Michael. These books are kept by the Protocol service and later kept in the city Archives.

Three of them are accessible online. The first one covers the period of 1843 to 1967. The second one covers the years between 1967 and 1999. The pages of the third one have been scanned up to November 2010.

The online viewing enables easy access to the history of the City of Brussels.
Click on your choice of Book 1, 2 or 3. Another page will open from which you will be able to navigate by thumbing through the book, that is, simply turning the page. Zoom in if the picture is not clear, pan it to move it around, print it if you like.
Note that due to a problem with the binding of the first book, the first 10 pages are off center.


These almanacs are the equivalent to old phone books. They contain alphabetical lists of residents (including their address and sometimes even their social status, and eventually their telephone number), residents by profession, by street, and repertories of services and state officers.
They make it possible to put together lists of building renters or owners, to locate the movement of someone within the city or in the suburbs and even note the eventual job promotions or changes. When used in combination with the population registers these lists can be very useful for the researcher as personal circumstances could change very rapidly.
These books can no longer be handled manually due to the paper deterioration. The digital collection is accessible online and goes from 1820 to 1969 (with a few hiccups). Yearly phone books are available at the City Archives building only, for the period after 1969.

This series was completed by the online addition of other almanacs (pocket Almanacs, royal Almanacs, Court Almanacs) which also contain much detail on public life in Belgium and in Brussels during the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as later periods, more specifically the second half of the 18th century: very important sources that identify public figures, military men along with public or private institutions.
Pick the type of almanac and keep clicking until you reach the beginning of the book you want to look at.
Click the magnifying glass at the top left of the page to clarify the image, then roll the mouse back to resize it so as to better fit your screen.

Cahiers Bruxellois

The scientific newsletter "Cahiers Bruxellois" contributes to promoting and furthering the study of the History of Brussels at the same time as urban and general history in general, for any given period. All issues of the publication published by the City of Brussels Archives between 1956 and 2005, are freely available online. Later volumes can be purchased or viewed at the City Archives building.
The search engine enable the searcher to retrieve articles by volume (tome), by year of publication, by author and by word contained in the article title.

Not everything that has been digitized is available online however and requires a trip to the City Archives building. Many unpublished manuscripts are also available by using the Pallas Catalogue, namely a large part of the registers of the Collection of historical Archives like the old cartuaries, the rules and jurisprudence of the city of Brussels from the Middle Ages until the end of the Old Regime.
To access the PALLAS catalog more easily, click "browse the archives" then open all the "+" signs in front of the different subjects. This will give you an idea of what is available and how to locate it - NOT online.

So if you have the opportunity to visit the Archives... let me know... I would love to hear a personal experience with these records, and I may have a question or two about a long gone bike racer who is dear to me.
Here is the address:
Archives de la Ville de Bruxelles
Rue des Tanneurs, 65
1000 Bruxelles
Tél. : 02 279 53 20
Fax : 02 279 53 29

Happy Hunting!