Archives communales de Schaerbeek / Gemeentearchief Schaarbeek

  • Communal archives of Schaerbeek


On the night of 17 to 18 April 1911, Schaerbeek town hall was almost completely destroyed by arson. Numerous documents went up in smoke: all population registers, for example, were lost. After this disaster, the College of Aldermen took measures to ensure the continuity of services and to continue to assist citizens. A first measure concerned the protection of the archives. The valuable records were transferred to the industrial school in Bijenkorfstraat.

The city council was indeed concerned about the issue because the new town hall - which was almost identical to the old one and was designed by Maurice Van Ysendijck, son of the previous architect Jules-Jacques Van Ysendijck - was provided with rooms expressly intended for the storage of the archives of each department. Those rooms are located on the second floor of the building. It was also decided to set up a central archive department from 1915. In 1921, clear organic regulations were finally established for the Schaerbeek archives service.

In 1929, at the suggestion of councillor, historian and future chief archivist of the city of Brussels (1931-1948) Charles Pergameni, a "historical archives" department was created. This is the archive containing files on official ceremonies, folklore parades, inaugurations of monuments, etc. that were held on the territory of Schaerbeek.

In the 1930s, the service was gradually phased out. With the expansion of the office space, the archives housed on the second floor were pushed back into premises that were much less suitable. Thus, numerous documents ended up in the attics of the town hall. In successive removal operations, archive files were split up, files were lost or even destroyed. The archivist of the time, Michel de Ghelderode, was not at all interested in archives and preferred writing. The playwright was officially retired in 1946.

At the end of World War II, the archive was threatened due to the lack of paper and the recycling campaign launched to collect raw material for its production. Despite the 1955 Archives Act and the good will of the head of the department of the municipal secretariat and unofficial archivist Robert Van den Haute, the situation did not improve. When Robert Van den Haute retired in 1976, the depositories were no longer controlled by any archivist and some archive files moved to the cellars of the town hall.

And 1995 an official archivist, Gwendoline Denhaene, was hired to straighten out the troubled state of the municipal archives.

In 1999, the municipality acquired the building that today houses much of the administrative archives. The premises, located between Rodenbachlaan and Picquartlaan and Anatole Francestraat, were formerly warehouses of CINTA (Compagnie indépendante des Tabacs (Bastos cigarettes)). Re-centralising the archive allowed the documents to be arranged more rationally and made more accessible to the public.

Records Management and Collecting Policies

The archives of the commune of Schaerbeek are made up of kilometres of documents. These funds and the thousands of documents they contain have been preserved for centuries, surviving the great fire of 1911, wars and perilous removals. The oldest documents in the archives service date back to the 19th century. The funds contain, among other things, documents relating to: works carried out on the territory of the municipality (public buildings, schools, cemeteries, expropriations, roads, etc.); of the administration (registers of the municipal councils and colleges since 1807, municipal gazettes since 1860); The organisation and functioning of the administration and its various departments (education, cleanliness, culture, population, civil status, etc.). The municipal archives also have a large collection of photographs and postcards about Schaerbeek.

Archival and Other Holdings

The archives contain birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates and death certificates which are over a hundred years old. For the consultation of an document under the age of one hundred years, contact the Department Civil Registry.

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

Inventories were created for the large archive files that are kept on a long-term basis (Public Works, HR/staff files, Education, Litigation, Secretariat, Fine Arts, Police, etc.). Some of those inventories are currently being reworked. For the moment, they are not available online but readers can consult them on paper on site. In the medium term, the intention is to bring online several of the inventories that may be useful to researchers.

DENHAENE Godelieve, L’incendie de l’hôtel communal de Schaerbeek (1911) : répercussion sur la conservation des archives, mise sur pied d’un service central d’archives (1915) et démantèlement de celui-ci (1930), in “Archief- en Bibliotheekwezen in België“, Brussel, 2002, deel LXXIII, n°1-4, pp. 40-62.

Opening Times

The reading room of the archives service is accessible free of charge by appointment.

Conditions of Access

Any consultation of the archives must be requested via the online form. Searches may be conducted by staff of the Archives Department at the following rates:
First quarter: € 8.50. Per hour: €16 (the fee is capped at a maximum of three hours of searching). Free for students (on presentation of a certificate).


  • Community of Schaerbeek website consulted on 29/10/2014

    Pierre-Alain Tallier (dir.), Gertjan Desmet & Pascale Falek-Alhadeff, Bronnen voor de geschiedenis van de Joden en het Jodendom in België, 19de-21ste eeuw, Brussel, ARA-AGR/Avant-Propos, 2016, 1328 p.

  • Archiviris website last consulted on 04/10/2022

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