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.