Institut Émile Vandervelde
- Institute Emile Vandervelde
Heir of the National Institute of Social History (INSH), founded in 1937 at the initiative of Social Welfare, the department of documentation and historical research aims to rescue, preserve, classify and highlight the importance of archival heritage of the workers movement and especially the Belgian Socialist movement.
The Institut national d'histoire sociale (INHS), created at the initiative of the cooperative insurance company La Prévoyance sociale, was inaugurated on 18 February 1939. This institute, the first of its kind in Belgium, aimed to collect the historical materials necessary for the study of social history. An enormous amount of prospecting work was undertaken at institutions and with personalities likely to deposit their archives there before the German occupiers interrupted the Institute’s activities in 1941.
The Emile Vandervelde Institute (EVI), which succeeded the INHS, officially opened on 29 September 1947 in the same premises. However, its ambitions were broader than those of its predecessor, since its aims were to "create, promote, develop and coordinate at a national level, activities relating to the study of economic, social and cultural issues as well as all initiatives aimed at increasing workers' knowledge and organising their leisure activities, all the while being a non-profit organisation”.
From 1948 onwards, the Institute operated as a centre for the study of the Parti socialiste belge (PSB, later the PS), with the objective of conducting research on all economic, social, financial, administrative, political, ethical and legal issues facing the Party and its organisations.
Apart from this political component to its operations, the library and archives continued their historical work. Gifts, deposits and acquisitions, obtained over the course of nearly three quarters of a century, have ended up creating a particularly rich and varied documentary body of social and labour history.
The collection work undertaken by the INHS led to the major deposit of the archives and library of Louis Bertrand. Nevertheless, it was not until the 1960s that it was really possible to talk about the IEV as an archive. This shift was linked to two major events: the death of Jeanne-Emile Vandervelde (1963) and the destruction of the Maison du Peuple in Brussels (1964).
Along with Emile Vandervelde's library, Jeanne-Emile Vandervelde also transferred what had been preserved in the Vandervelde archives and as well as her own documentary materials to the Institute. As for the destruction of the Maison du Peuple, many party organizations had their headquarters and archives stored in this building. Although some of them disappeared with the building, the party secretariat fortunately took its archives with it with it when it moved to Boulevard de l'Empereur.
Subsequently, a policy of regular contact with the heads of the General Secretariat as well as with personalities and organisations of the party or others belonging to the socialist movement has ensured the expansion of the collection.
Recognised by the French Community in Belgium since 1995 as a private archival repository, the Institute's mission is to collect, safeguard, inventory and enhance the archives of the socialist movement in Wallonia and Brussels.
The IEV's collections are divided into three main categories: the party archives, other socialist organisations and personalities.
For a more detailed overview of the Institute's collections, see:
The website of the IEV has an online catalogue that be accessed here:
Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
IEV website consulted on 25/07/2019
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.