We have had the pleasure of the acquaintance of the highly qualified genealogist, Marie Cappart, for a few years now and enjoy meeting with her when our paths cross at genealogy fairs, congregations and other extravaganzas. She embodies a happy combination of ebullience and expertise; she is also the author of the book we review here on Belgian genealogy, Le Guide de la Généalogie en Belgique.
This is a guide that is both thorough and succinct, both complete and clear. Unlike other guides to genealogy in French, it is not padded with an excessive number of attractive but useless photographs of dolls and documents; this guide is packed with useful information and advice.
Ms. Cappart covers the basics that one would expect to find. She explains the archives facilities and how to do genealogical research in their holdings, whether that search be on site or online. The specifics of the structure and wording of Belgian parish and civil registrations are described. The chapter entitled "Les archives coloniales : un sujet délicat" is a wonder of sensitive yet straightforward discussion of the archives of the Congo an d its years under Belgian rule, a period that is probably that darkest stain on Belgium's history.
The author shows greater patience than we have with the interminable pestering by some family historians to prove a connection with royalty. You think you have connections to Belgian nobility or are descended from Charlemagne? Ms. Cappart gives a pithy chapter to the research of each. From military records to corporate archives, all seem to have been covered in this guide. There is even a chapter explaining who the Mormons are and why they are so important to genealogy, the necessity of which we find utterly disarming.
Following the bibliography, which includes websites, the Appendices are no afterthought, but contain more useful information in list form rather than in prose. They cover:
- A sample of a letter you may need for archives access
- Lists of archives and research facilities, with their addresses and websites, in Belgium, France and The Netherlands, plus Great Britain and the United States
- A trilingual list of the most common forenames
- A lexicon to the most common terms to be found in parish and civil registrations
- A bilingual list, French and Dutch, of the most common of those terms
- A very useful guide showing what data may be found in each type of document or registration
You need no other book, guide or resource than this to begin your research in Belgian genealogy.
©2018 Anne Morddel