Saturday, January 14, 2012

Researching on the Belgian Archives site

I find this article published in Belgian Laces Vol#30-116 still applicable and since FamilySearch was once again asked to remove the images from access on, at least here are some directions as to how to use the Belgian Archives site to do some research.  Good luck!

The Belgian Royal Archives have made available many names online also.
Go to:  and choose your language of preference: Dutch or French only for search formats, which is why I have taken the time to translate below to help take you through the steps of a Person Search on this site.
If you chose the English setting for the site, the search menu will be in Dutch.
(see Advanced Search)
Person Search
1. What can you find under “Person Search”?
A large number of researchers at the Archives facilities are interested in information about their ancestors, … Therefore a large part of the research in the reading room sis geared to genealogy.  In the past, analyses on often used documents have been done in collaboration with volunteers and that is what has produced the ‘analytical inventories’.
The results of these volunteer projects can be found under  Person Search.
We have chosen to set up one large database from which all information can be retrieved.

2. What information is available?
The information starting point is the archival record.  At the top of the screen, you have the information about the document and the link to the database where it is found in the archives, then, a description of the record.
Each record is linked to the names of persons found in it.  The roles these people play in the record are also explained. 
The availability of the records first depends on the source but also on the project definition.  The analysis provides the starting point that will require that the researcher view the original record for him/herself.  Here is a description of different projects:
- Marriage records from Eastern Flanders : 1,337,339 names
- Birth records from Western Flanders: 160,785 names
- Death Records from Eastern Flanders: 130,389 names
- Notarial records from Nivelles (Notaire Paradis): 41,076 names
- Marriage records from Flemish Brabant: 12,525 names (test)
- Notarial records from Antwerp: 290,888 (to validate)

3.Searching in “Person Search”
3.1. Simple Search

 the site in Dutch/French:
Gelijk aan/égale = exact match
Begint met/commence par = begins with
Eindigt op/termine par = ends with
Bevat/contient – contains

Type in a first name and/or surname and set a time frame for your search.
To be more efficient, you might choose specific documents to search in, or be more flexible with the name by changing from “exact match” to “starts with” or “ends with”, or “contains” specific letters.
For example :
« Comprend ‘Jan’ » will give Pieter Jan, Jan Pieter, …

For the date, you also have several choices. You can use an exact date, or choose a time frame between specific dates or years, or before or after a certain date or year.
And you can limit your search to a specific record: birth, death or marriage, assuming the records are available

3.2. Advanced Search - See first picture above
Allows you a wider variety of searches:

3.3. Search results

Results will be limited to 1,000 hits. If you receive this message, it is advised that you narrow down your search.

You will get a list containing the names matching what you were looking for.  In the 1st column you will find the type of record abbreviation.  By hovering over it with your mouse you should get a complete description of the record.
The 2nd column gives the record date, then the name, place and role played by the person whose you found in the record.
Click on a names to see all the information.

The information contains misspellings sue to the fact that it is transcribed AS IS. The researcher must be flexible enough in his/her research to look for all possible spellings of a name.

This information is online thanks to the efforts of the DemoGen indexers. For more information:
I did a search for a last name only "DROSSART"
The search resulted in 64 hits:

I clicked on the first name in the listed to obtain the following:

In this case, Servais DROSSART is the father of the deceased.  I know, no images but it's still a pretty awesome way to find your ancestors...  Happy Hunting!