Archives de l'État à Mons / Rijksarchief Bergen

  • State Archives in Mons
  • AEM


Avenue des Bassins 66


+32 65 400 460


+32 65 400 461


The French law of 26 October 1796 (5 Brumaire V) laid the foundations of the organisational structure of the present-day Belgian State Archives. The law stipulated that the archives of institutions and administrations abolished by the French authorities were to be collected and preserved at the regional metropolis of each newly created ‘Département’. In 1831, the archive depot in Brussels was officially named the “Archives Générales du Royaume” (National Archives of Belgium). By virtue of the Royal Decree of 17 December 1851, the “Archives de l’État dans les Provinces” (State Archives in the Provinces) were placed under the authority of the National Archivist.

Now broadly known as ‘the State Archives of Belgium’, the National Archives and the State Archives in the Provinces are a federal academic organisation that forms part of the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO). The State Archives are made up of the National Archives in Brussels and 17 State Archives that are distributed throughout the country. The State Archives’ role is to ensure the proper preservation of archival documents produced and managed by the state authorities. In order to fulfil its responsibilities, the State Archives issue directives and recommendations; conduct inspections and organise training for civil servants. The State Archives also act as an advisory body for the construction and preparation of premises for the conservation of archives and for the organisation of archive management within public institutions. The State Archives obtain and preserve (following sorting) archival documents that are at least 30 years old from courts, tribunals, public authorities, notaries and from the private sector and private individuals (companies, politicians, associations and societies, influential families, etc. that have played an important role in society). They ensure that public archives are transferred according to strict archival standards.


The origins of the State Archives in Mons date back to 1788 when the States of Hainaut decided to merge their archives with those of the Counts of Hainaut. Later on, by virtue of a French law of 5 brumaire year V (26 October 1796), all acts and documents of the Republic had to be brought together in the departmental headquarters. Until 1834, the archives were spread over the floors of three houses near the town hall. Afterwards it was transferred to the ground floor of the former Jesuit seminary in the rue des Gades (now rue Marguerite Bervoets). From 1872 to 2006, the State Archives were located on Place du Parc in Mons, in a former Visitandins monastery that was shut down in 1796 and used as a prison until 1870.

On 14 May 1940, the building of the State Archives in Mons was hit by German fire bombs that were supposed to hit the Mons railway station. Two thirds of the archives were destroyed in the flames, mainly ancien régime archives, but also handwritten inventories prepared by many generations of archivists, as well as the registers containing detailed descriptions of the archives and the secretariat files. In April 1944, the remaining archives were moved to various locations in the city to prevent Allied bombing raids from causing additional damage.

The Mons State Archives were rebuilt and opened on 29 May 1954.

The archivists have always pursued an active policy of acquisition of public and private archives in order to establish a proper State archive in Mons.

Because the archive rooms gradually became saturated and the storage conditions were inadequate, the State Archives moved in 2006 to a new building that was specifically designed for archive storage. The building has a surface area of 12,550 m² and is located on the 'Grands Prés' site, in the basement of the multifunctional Lotto Mons Expo exhibition hall. The basement was given a double wall, the first of which (the floor of the lock and the outer edge) lies in the water and supports the building like a boat, while the second (the floor slab) protects the archive from moisture. The facades are in blue stone; roofs and facades are clad in stainless steel.

Archival and Other Holdings

The State Archives in Mons preserve more than 30 km of archives and their jurisdiction extends over the territory of the former judicial districts of Mons and Charleroi.

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

There are several online search engines: keyword, archives, creator, persons, themes ( In order to facilitate access to documents, archivists produce academic reference works aimed at users, such as archive group overviews, guides, historical source studies and, in particular, inventories and search guides with detailed indexes. The search guides can be consulted in the reading room, and they are currently subject to a digitisation initiative, which aims to make them fully accessible on-line or via the intranet available on the computers in all the depositories of the State Archives.

State Archives guides and inventories may also be downloaded or purchased from the following link:

Opening Times

Open Tuesday to Friday, continuously from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Documents requested in the reading room are delivered at 9:15 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

The reading room of the State Archives in Mons is also open on the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Original documents may be consulted on Saturdays only after a reservation has been made before Friday 1 p.m. at the latest.

Closed on Monday, Saturday (except first Saturday of the month), Sunday, public holidays and inventorying days.

July and August: Open from Tuesday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Closed on Monday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.

Conditions of Access

Since 1 June 2018, access to the reading rooms of the State Archives is free. This new measure has been put in place to ensure access to our archives for all citizens. The State Archives online archives, which include civil status and church registers that are older than 100 years, can be accessed for free as well.

For other fees that may apply, please see:


The State Archives are committed to ensuring access to its reading rooms and other common areas for all users. Several improvements have been made in recent years to facilitate access for people with reduced mobility (parking spaces, toilets, etc.). A pedestrian ramp, located on the side of the building at Avenue Léo Collard, leads to the main entrance door of the State Archives in Mons. For further information about access, please contact the institution by phone or email.

Reproduction Services

For information on reproduction services and fees, please visit the following web page:


  • State Archives in Belgium website consulted on 22/07/2019

  • 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.

  • State Archive in Mons website, last consulted on 23/05/2022

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