Amsab - Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis

  • Amsab - Institute of Social History
  • Amsab-ISH


Bagattenstraat 174


+32 9 224 00 79


+32 9 233 67 11


Amsab-ISH is an officially recognized Flemish cultural heritage institution engaged in archiving documents and other items of progressive social movements and persons. It was founded in 1980 by Herman Balthazar and Wouter Steenhaut. Both of them were employed at the Department of Modern History at the University of Ghent at that time.

Amsab-Institute of Social History became an officially recognized Flemish cultural institution in 1985.

Since the establishment of Amsab Institute of Social History, research has been one of its core activities. As a cultural heritage institution, research is conducted in concert with Amsab’s collection management and public services. Scientific research supports and provides direction to the institute’s acquisition and collection accessibility policies, as well as inspiring activities in the field of public history, popularising research and community service. This provides a clear added value for the global profile of the institute and permits Amsab- distinguish itself from purely academic research entities.

The institute has a preference for research topics that fit the thematic pillars underpinning our collection policy, in particular:

• labor movement

• new social movements

• ecological movements

• migration history

For more information about the history of the institution, please consult its website

Administrative Structure

Amsab-ISG is made up of several departments.

The Collection department organises and coordinates the work of the Archive, Library and Sound & Vision. The Public Works Department coordinates public projects and is responsible for our publications, including the journal Brood en Rozen (Bread and Roses), as well as our website, newsletter and social media accounts. The Research Department focuses on fundamental scientific research while the ICT and administrative staff are at the service of the entire institute.


The stately mansion, originally a wallpaper wholesaler, with the living quarters on the left and the business section on the right, had previously been thoroughly renovated by the editorial staff of De Morgen. The building was partially restored to its original state and adapted to carry tons of papers and accommodate a rapidly growing team of employees. It is equipped with a comfortable reading room and a small, but rather nice museum space in the basement.

Archival and Other Holdings

Amsab preserves and collects records from the 19th century onwards. Materials are related to the history of socialist organisations, radical left-wing organisations, new social movements and groups involved in action for peace, women, the Third World, a different globalization, gay and lesbian rights, migrant rights, etc. Amsab-ISH has also become the archive of the green movement. Geographically the institute's collections focus on Flanders / Belgium and, if relevant, on the international context.

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

All Amsab-ISH collections appear in the online catalogue, which is available for consultation on the Internet. Finding aids are also regularly published.

Opening Times

Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is a set lunch break from 12.30pm to 1pm when all visitors leave the building. You take your lunch break outside the building. The public area and garden are temporarily not accessible to the public.

Conditions of Access

Collection material can be reserved in advance via the online catalogue. For this purpose, you create a (one-time) account. After reserving, you will be contacted by e-mail to set up a reading room appointment. Due to our limited staff, priority is given to urgent research. In order to provide a suitable solution for everyone, please indicate the purpose of your consultation (paper, thesis, doctorate, publication, etc.) and any deadlines.

You have not finished your application on the day of your appointment and would like to continue with your consultation? Tell the person in charge of the reading room which days you want to drop by or mail to to make a follow-up appointment.

You want to consult archives? Archives can only be requested at the file level. When requesting larger archive parts, please indicate this in the reservation request or by sending an e-mail to Please note: written permission from the archive creator is required for consultation of some archives. This is done in consultation with an archivist.

Do you want to consult magazines? When reserving periodicals and series, please indicate the desired volumes and/or issues in the reservation request.

Documents of which a digital version is available (online or in the reading room) cannot be consulted on paper. This applies to image documents, digitised periodicals, archive files,.... Digital documents that cannot be published online for legal reasons can only be consulted in the reading room.

Borrowing documents is not possible, with the exception of loans for exhibitions.

Research Services

Amsab's collection can be consulted in the reading room.

To consult archival documents and library material, make a reservation through the catalogue. To do this you first have to log in and create an account. You will be notified via e-mail when the documents are available. Because these have to be collected from external depots, this can take a few days, but never longer than a week.

If you do not find what you want, or you can not reserve certain matters, send us an email to

Please note that archives can only be requested at item level. If you plan to consult a larger share of items or a complete archive, you can indicate this in the reservation form (Comments section). There you can also specify which volumes or numbers of magazines you want to consult.

Also, digitised documents or documents that are available online can not be accessed in the reading room. This applies to image documents, digitised journals, inventories of archives etc.

Reproduction Services

It is possible to order reproductions from Amsab's picture archive, provided that copyright is respected and a number of conditions are met. For more details on these conditions, see here


  • Scan: 5 euro

  • Publication fee: 25 euro

  • Administrative fee: 2,50 euro


  • AMSAB website consulted on 12/07/2019

  • Pierre-Alain Tallier (dir.), Gertjan Desmet & Pascale Falek-Alhadeff, Sources pour l'histoire des populations juives et du judaïsme en Belgique/Bronnen voor de geschiedenis van de Joden en het Jodendom in België, 19de-21ste eeuw, Brussel, ARA-AGR/Avant-Propos, 2016, 1,328 p.

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