Archives de l’Académie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique
- Archives of Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium
In the second half of the 18th century, Brussels and about two thirds of present-day Belgium were part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Empress Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia was the sovereign.
In 1769, a Literary Society was founded in Brussels under the auspices of the Count of Cobenzl, Minister Plenipotentiary of Empress Maria Theresa to Prince Charles of Lorraine, Lieutenant Governor and Captain General of the Netherlands.
Three years later, the Literary Society received from Empress Marie-Thérèse the title of Imperial and Royal Academy of Sciences and Literature of Brussels, as well as several important privileges for the time.
The Sovereign tasked the new scholars with animating the country's intellectual life and stimulating scientific research in diverse fields.
On 21 May 1794, the Imperial and Royal Academy held its last meeting. The conquest of Belgium by France suspended the institution's activity for twenty-two years.
By Royal Decree of 17 May 1816, King William I of the Netherlands re-established it as the Royal Academy of Sciences and Literature.
The Academy survived the Revolution of 1830 intact. In December 1837, the Faculty of Literature was expanded to include a section of Moral and Political Sciences. On 1 December 1845, the Academy was reorganized by King Leopold I, who clearly divided the Science Faculty from the Literature Faculty and added the Fine Arts Faculty. Since then the Academy has been called the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium.
It was granted the state of a civil personality by the law of 2 August 1924.
The law of 1 July 1971 regulated the use of languages; the lingua franca of the Academy is French.
Records Management and Collecting Policies
The archives of the Royal Academy of Belgium currently include 29,490 files. These documents are kept in the basement of the library in ideal conditions. In addition to the old archive of all documents of the Literary Society and the Imperial and Royal Academy of Sciences and Literature of Brussels, the archives also include files on general administration, different classes, iconographic collections and personal folders.
The Academy has recently adopted an ambitious policy of acquiring archives related to its history (medals, coins, paintings, etc.) and to its scholars. Moreover, the institution has recently taken possession of archives unrelated to its past. Namely, the the Froidcourt-Droixhe fonds, which contains various notes and documents accumulated by Georges de Froidcourt, a magistrate from Liège and an historian.
Founded in 1845, the Library of the Royal Academy houses nearly one million documents. The Library’s collection is particularly rich and varied and it holds many rare and even unique documents. Since 2010, the Academy has been home to the prestigious Belfius Local History Library (formerly the library of the Crédit communal de Belgique). It is the most complete documentary collection on the national, regional and local history of Belgium, consisting of 45,000 books and periodicals, 77,000 postcards, 5,000 porcelain cards and hundreds of geographical maps and other Popp plans.
Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication
An online catalogue for the Academy's collections can be found here:
Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
July and August: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Conditions of Access
The Academy's reading room - l'espace Englert - is accessible to visitors over 18 years old after registration.
Académie Royale de Belgique website consulted on 24/07/2019
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.