Oost Vlaanderen (East Flanders), Belgium Genealogy

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Belgium
Oost Vlaanderen (East Flanders)
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Guide to Oost Vlaanderen (East Flanders) Province ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

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History

During the short-lived Napoleonic Empire, most of the area of the modern province was part of the Department of Escaut.
Following the defeat of Napoleon, the entity was renamed after its geographical location in the eastern part of historic Flanders; although the province is actually situated in the western portion of Flanders.
[1]

Research Methods

Most of your genealogical research for Oost Vlaanderen will be in two main record types: civil registration and church records . This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

Civil Registration

  • Civil registration records are government records of births, marriages, and deaths.
  • Dates: Civil registration began around 1795-1796 while under French rule.
  • Contents:
    • Births(Geboorten(NL), Naissances(FR)): Child’s name, birth date and place; parents’ names, residence, and occupation, witnesses’ ages, relationships, residences; yearly indexes.
    • Marriages(Huwelijken, Mariages): Bride and groom names, ages, residences, occupations; sometimes ages and/or birth dates and places, parents' names, marriage date and place, residences, occupations, witnesses and officer who performed ceremony, former spouses, yearly indexes.
    • Marriage proclamations(Huwelijksafkondigingen, Publications de Mariage): Names of prospective marriage partners, intentions, residences, parents, etc.
    • Marriage supplements(Huwelijksbijlagen,Pièces de mariage) : Names of marriage partners, documents showing proofs of births, parents, deaths, prior marriages or divorces, proclamations, consents, contracts, etc.
    • Deaths(Overlijden,Décès) : Deceased's name, age, death date and place, occupation, name of surviving spouse, informant’s name and residence, cause of death, sometimes birth dates and places, parents’ names, children’s names, yearly indexes.
    • Divorces: Listed on the back of the marriage registers in the municipality where the marriage took place. Includes names, ages, dates and places, occupations, residences.
    • Multi-Year-Indexes: Additional two, three, five and ten year indexes(tienjarige tafels, Tables décennales) to births, marriages, divorces and deaths. Some are alphabetical, others chronological, by first letter of the surname, all letters, and given names.
  • Language: The native language of Oost-Vlaanderen is Dutch/Flemish. Most records in Oost-Vlaanderen are in Dutch, though a few are in French. German will not be used.

Online Records

FamilySearch has some records online.

Most records up to 1915 are at the site of the Rijksarchief in Belgie/ Les Archives de l'Etat en Belgique (The National Archives of Belgium). Only a few can be searched on their search engine. To view or search records you may register for free. The site is available in English and other languages.

GeneaKnowHow lists genealogical sources for Belgium and the Netherlands, and some will contain civil registration

Records at the Family History Library

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Belgium, Antwerpen.
b. Click on "Places within Belgium, Antwerpen" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Civil Registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

Writing for Recent Records

Records less than 100 years old are not open to the general public, and those after 1915 are not online. These records can only be viewed by special permission after writing to the municipal authorities of the municipality where the event occurred. A fee may be charged.

Write to:

Gemeentebestuur

De Ambtenaar van de BURGERLIJKE STAND

Gemeentehuis

BE - (postal code) (name of municipality)

Belgium

What to send:

Send the following:

  • A request for them to tell you the fees and how they should be paid.
  • Full name and the sex of the person sought.
  • Names of the parents, if known.
  • Approximate date and place of the event.
  • Your exact relationship to the person.
  • Reason for the request (family history or medical).
  • Request for a complete extract of the record

Writing the letter

This Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy will help you with composing your letter.

Church Records

  • hurch records are vital records kept by priests and are often called parish registers or church books. They include records of christenings (baptisms), marriages, and deaths (burials).
  • Church records are crucial for research before the civil government started keeping vital records, which began about 1796.
  • Roman Catholicism has been the pre-dominant religion in Belgium.
  • To learn more about church records, see Belgium Church Records.

Online Records

FamilySearch has started to put digitalized microfilms online. Many are at the site of the Rijksarchief in Belgie/ Les Archives de l'Etat en Belgique (The National Archives of Belgium). Only a few can be searched on their search engine. To view or search records you may register for free. The site is available in English and other languages.

GeneaKnowHow lists genealogical sources for Belgium and the Netherlands, and some will contain church records

Records at the Family History Library

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Belgium, Antwerpen.
b. Click on "Places within Belgium, Antwerpen" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records

When you cannot locate the records online or in a microfilm, baptism, marriage, and death records may be found by contacting or visiting local parish priests.

Write a brief request to the proper church using this address as guide replacing the information in parentheses:

Reverend Pastor
(Street address, if known: see The Catholic Directory)
(Postal code) (City) Antwerp
BELGIUM

Send the following:

  • Cashier’s check or international money order (in local currency) for the search fee. Usually $10.00.
  • Full name and the sex of the person sought.
  • Names of the parents, if known.
  • Approximate date and place of the event.
  • Your relationship to the person.
  • Reason for the request (family history or medical).
  • Request for a complete extract of the record
  • International reply coupon, available from large post offices (optional).

Reading the Records

  • Records are most commonly written in Dutch, but may also be in Latin or French. You do not have to be fluent these languages to read your documents! Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Dutch Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document. If you find that the records are written in Latin, or French, click on that language link in this sentence.
  • Also, the handwriting can be slightly different, so you will want to watch these lessons, as needed, depending on the pre-dominant language in the region your ancestors lived:


Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The Dutch Alphabet.
Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Dutch Words and Dates.
Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Dutch Records.


Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The French Alphabet,
Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Key Words and Phrases
Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading French Records

Tips for Finding Your Ancestor in the Records

  • Effective use of civil registration and church records includes the following strategies:
  1. Identify your ancestor by finding his birth or christening record.
  2. When you find an ancestor’s birth or baptismal record, search for the births of siblings.
  3. Search for the parents’ marriage record. Typically, the marriage took place one or two years before the oldest child was born.
  4. Search for the parents' birth records. On the average, people married in their early 20s, so subtact 25 or so years from the marriage date for a starting year to search for the parents' birth records.
  5. Search the death registers for all family members.
  6. If you do not find earlier generations in the parish registers, search neighboring parishes.
  • Marriages were usually performed and recorded where the bride lived.
  • Do not overlook the importance of death records. Death records are especially helpful because they may provide important information about a person’s birth, spouse, and parents. Civil death records often exist for individuals for whom there are no birth or marriage records.