Archives Battle Royal Update
More on Franco-Belgian Genealogy - with a success story

A Toe Over the Border into Belgium

Brabant Chronicles

Image courtesy of BibliOdyssey

Not very long ago, we had the opportunity to witness a tri-lingual wedding in the stunningly gilt cathedral of Ghent in Belgium. We offer here a clip of a gifted young actor delivering a speech in English in which you can see some of the choir and altar in the background. (The video seems not to appear in the subscribers' e-mails, but it is on the blog post's page.)


We are often asked to do genealogical research in Belgium, for the borders between that country and France were not always as they now are. Flanders and Hainault, provinces in the north of France, were not part of the country until annexed by Louis XIV.  Many families have members living on both sides and a few, as a speaker at a conference claimed, have engaged in happy-go-lucky smuggling across the border. Belgian genealogy is not really our territory, but for those coming from such a cross-border family, we hope that these suggestions will be of use.

Within France:

  • In Flanders and Hainault, duplicates of the parish registers for the region prior to 1737 are not in the Departmental Archives of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. The only copies are in the parishes (except for some early ones for the city of Lille.) Writing to the local parish archives could be more useful for earlier records than struggling with the Departmental Archives.
  • The local genealogy association for both Nord and Pas-de-Calais, GenNPdC, has a very useful website.

Within Belgium:

  •  For Brussels - the city archives have parish registrations going back to 1482. The staff will respond to letters in English and can be written to at this address: Archives de la Ville de Bruxelles. 65 rue des Tanneurs. 1000 Bruxelles. Belgium.
  • For the Belgian province of Hainaut - the local  genealogy and history association, the AGHB,  is very active. It can be contacted by writing  to: AGHB - section du Hainaut occidental. Rue de Marvais 82. 7500 Tournai. Belgium.
  • For the region around Dinant, try the association, Génédinant, who have a site with plenty of information.
  • For the city of Comines-Warneton and many of its surrounding villages, both Flemish-speaking and Francophone, you have the website of the Société d'Histoire de Comines-Warneton et de la Région. It has a surname search facility that could be helpful.
  • An excellent website that is full of links to sites for genealogy on Flemish Belgium and the Netherlands is geneaknowhow.

Belgian archives, also, it seems, have been the target of efforts to commercialize their holdings. The Archives Publiques Libres folks are up in arms about this, as it looks as if Belgium may join the Battle Royal.

Best of Luck!

©2011 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy