Genealogy Research in Belgium

E. Wade Hone, 2004

The town of origin is the most important piece of information needed to begin research in Belgium. Often, determining the town of origin is more difficult than adding four or five new generations to the family tree. If the town of origin is not known, research requirements will vary. There are currently no indexed sources for Belgium that would permit complete country-wide searches for inhabitants or surnames. Although emigration resources and a variety of records from families living in Belgium today can aid the researcher, interviews with family members and a careful search of all home sources are often the greatest help in finding clues to a more precise locality in Belgium. U.S. sources such as immigration records, naturalization, and even culturally-oriented church records will also be of tremendous value.

Despite the generality of the statement above, the information that follows applies specifically to the country of Belgium. It is only a start, based on research data gathered a year or two ago for an unrelated project. This material is being used here as a foundation for an eventual interactive site for research of geographical, cultural, ethnical, and ecclesiastical contributions made by the peoples and places within the boundaries of Belgium as it entered the twenty-first century. This initial material is primarily genealogical in nature.

Basic Sources in Belgium

The most valuable sources for research in Belgium prior to the twentieth century are civil registration and church records. Belgium is one of a few fortunate countries in the world where the recording of vital events (i.e. birth, marriage, death) was regulated by civil authorities in a uniform manner from a very early time period; beginning in 1796. These records have been extremely well preserved, and continue to be today. Prior to the enactment of civil registration, the responsibility for keeping vital information was ecclesiastical. These records were generated mostly by the Catholic authorities, though Protestant sects existed. Read more about the various sources in Belgium:

Basic Sources in Belgium

Church (Ecclesiastical) Records
Civil Registration Records
Other Sources and Information

Watch for further developments of this page. If you have any suggestions or material you would like to see posted here, please submit your recommendation.

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