Source material on 19th century immigrants and seamen in Belgium can be found in several archival institutions.
immigrants in the archives
S. Vervaeck, Inventaire des archives du Ministère de la Justice, Administration de la Sûreté Publique (Police des Etrangers). Dossiers généraux (Régime français-1914)
F. Plisnier, Ministère de la Justice. Administration de la Sûreté publique (Police des Etrangers). Dossiers généraux: deuxième versement, 1930-1960 [1814-1986]
The State Archives in Brussels hold the historic files of the foreigners police, "Vreemdelingenpolitie" or "Sûreté Publique". This archival source constists of more than 2 million individual files and a series of general files concerning the policy towards migrants, specific migrant groups and the internal workings of the foreigners police. The finding aids below can help you browse these sources.
The Archives hold several other smaller archival sources that follow the trajectories of migrants within Belgium, such as the sources concering naturalisation and domiciliation requests.
F. Caestecker, F. Strubbe & P.A. Tallier, De individuele vreemdelingendossiers afkomstig van de openbare veiligheid (Vreemdelingenpolitie). 1835 - 1943.
B. Willems, Inventaris van het archief van de dienst schepenbeheer Antwerpen en rechtsvoorgangers 1845-2008.
The State Archives in Antwerp hold the archives of the Waterschoutambt, an archive concerning schip management and maritime affairs which forms a great entry into the history of migrant sailors.
B. BOONE, R. DEPOORTERE , Ministère de la Justice. Service de la Police des étrangers. Inventaire des microfilms du fichier des dossiers individuels, 1996. Inv. sous forme de fichier alphab. des noms des personnes. Classement par numéro de dossiers.en paragraaf.
Push the button to access the finding aids for the archivals sources concerning naturalisation.
Push the button to access the digitized version of the "Mouvement de la Population et de l'Etat Civil", a unique sources with data concerning the Belgian population. The sources encompass population registers, foreigners registers, deaths and births, migration numbers. To learn more about this source click here for Dutch, here for French.
The city archive of Antwerp holds a series of local 19th century foreigners files. These files are digitized and directly accessable online through the website of "familysearch.org". The website provides the opportunity to search in a personsindex which links a filenumber to every immigrant. Use this number to look for the digitized images of the specific foreigner(s) file(s) you are looking for. This page may take some time to load so patience is neccesary.
CITY ARCHIVES LEUVEN
The city archive of Leuven holds a series of local 19th century foreigners files, which are accessable through the foreigners registers from 1859 - 1903. These registers are ordered chronologically and reflect the migrants origins, profession, data of arrival and departure from the city, adress in the city and identitydocuments. The registers are accesible in the reading room of the archive.
The city archive of Brussels holds a series of local 19th century foreigners files as well. (A digitized version of ) the files can be consulted in the reading rooms of the archive. Several pieces can also be found concerning extradited foreigners, arrivals of foreingers, lists of foreigners who obtained the permission to take up residence in Brussels, ...
OTHER LOCAL ARCHIVES
Plenty of local communes and smaller cities have information on historic migration as well. However foreigners files are not preserved everywhere and 19th century files were more often than not destroyed in the course of the past century. During the 19th century foreigners were rarely listed in separate foreignersregisters (as is the case in Leuven) but more often included in the population registers. Looking for information on an ancestor? Contact the archival service of the municipality where the person took residence and dive into the population registers.