Genealogical sources

Here is a listing of the online resources I use in my genealogical research, and more specifically in my research into my family history. I am certainly not trying to provide a complete overview, as there are innumerable resources that can be valuable.

I focus mainly on genealogical sources from Belgium, the Netherlands and France, since that is where my ancestors lived. Maybe it can also help you further along in your genealogy research!

Collection of deeds from parish registers and civil records - illustration 'Sources of genealogical research'

Parish records & civil registry

(incl. population registers)


  • The State Archives (NL/FR/DE/EN):
    • The genealogy website of the National Archives contains civil records (birth, marriage and death certificates) and parish records (baptism, marriage and burial certificates). You can access scans of the original documents there.
      It also contains many other records that can be valuable as sources for genealogical research.
    • Via the search engine Search for persons you can quickly find information about your ancestors. It is useful, but far from complete.
  • The West Flanders Deeds Database (NL/FR/EN/ES): The Volunteers of the State Archives in Bruges and Kortrijk deserve a medal for their work in creating this database. You can search by name within deeds from parish registers and civil status records from West Flanders.
  • Gemeente- en stadsarchieven.
    Deze genealogische bronnen vind ik heerlijk omdat ze ook recentere akten en documenten bevatten (ook na 1920), die je via het Rijksarchief niet vindt. Bovendien kan je hier gewoon op naam zoeken.
    • Bruges Archive Bank: This database of the city of Bruges provides access to numerous documents, including deeds from the civil registry and parish registers, as well as population registers, obituaries, war records, orphan certificates, etc.
    • FelixArchief Antwerpen: The city archive of the city of Antwerp provides access to civil status and population records, among other things


  • WieWasWie: The WieWasWie database contains digitally accessible historical documents containing personal data. These are offered and managed by numerous archival institutions. In addition to basic information such as names, places and dates, you can sometimes find a scan of the original document.
  • Person cards and lists of Dutch people who died after 1939 can be obtained from the Central Bureau of Genealogy (CBG) to order extracts.


  • Archives départementales: Je kan de Franse akten uit de parochieregisters en de burgerlijke stand raadplegen in de departementale archieven. Om een akte te zoeken, moet je dus eerst weten in welk departement je denkt de akte te vinden. Eerst even de betrokken gemeente opzoeken om te weten welk departementaal archief je wil raadplegen.
    De meeste departementale archieven werken op een gelijkaardige manier.


  • FamilySearch: an undeniable resource for genealogical research. This database managed by the Mormon Church contains a wealth of genealogical records around the world, including scans of original records. Many governments work with this organization to make their archives digitally accessible.
Prayer card collection - illustration 'Sources of genealogical research'

Prayer cards

Prayer cards (“in memoriam cards” or “funeral prayer cards“) and obituaries are especially valuable sources for genealogical research within the period from about 1820 to the present. They can often be a breakthrough when you don’t yet have access to recent civil records because of privacy laws.

  • Genealogical associations of Familiekunde Vlaanderen (Family History Flanders) or ‘Heemkundige kringen’ (Local History Circles) often have their own collections available through their websites.
    • Karakol.beoffers a large collection of prayer cards and obituaries from East and West Flanders (Familiekunde Bruges, Ostend and Ghent)
  • Private collections:
  • Eric Hennekam’s site has a nice overviewof sites where you can find prayer cards or obituaries of deceased people from Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • Open Archieven also has a large collection of prayer cards from the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • On the auction website you can find and buy prayer cards.
Faceless person using a laptop - illustration 'Sources of genealogical research'

Archive Banks

Collection from militia records - illustration 'Sources genealogical research'

Conscription list (militia register).


Documents related to conscription are freely consultable in Belgium, but not always online. For the province of West Flanders, for example, they can be consulted digitally (1813-1922) via Probat.

City archives also sometimes offer military documents digitally.


You can freely consult French military records through departmental archives.

Collection of gravestones in cemeteries - illustration 'Sources of genealogical research'


There are several online databases where you can find the grave of a deceased person. After all, each grave marker is a source of information for genealogical research.




Collection of front pages of historical newspapers (Gazette van Brugge, Gazet van Antwerpen, Het Nieuws van den Dag, Le Soir) - illustration 'Sources genealogical research'

Historical newspapers

Historical newspapers are by far my favourite sources in my genealogical research. You will find not only obituaries, birth or marriage announcements, but also news items in which your ancestor may be mentioned. You will discover stories that can surprise you. These stories bring your ancestors back to life. Wonderful!



  • Delpher: the historical Dutch press


  • Gallica: comprehensive database of historical newspapers, manuscripts, books, etc.
  • RetroNews: the French historical press
Collection of old postcards with views of towns and villages (Wytschate, Antwerp, Bruges, Vizille, Oz-en-Oisans, Brussels, Clichy) - illustration 'Sources of genealogical research'

Old postcards

Image banks

  • Image Bank of Immovable Heritage Flanders: images and information on architectural, archaeological, landscape and sailing heritage.
  • Beeldbanken van steden en gemeenten
    Veel steden en gemeenten hebben een eigen beeldarchief van oude foto’s, kaarten, prentkaarten, … die waardevol kunnen zijn als bron bij genealogisch onderzoek. Doe online een zoektocht op beeldbank en een gemeente. Voorbeelden:
Collection of three sections from historical maps - illustration 'Sources genealogical research'

Historical maps

  • Geopunt: a user-friendly application to view various general and historical maps of Flanders

Genealogical websites

There are many commercial and open source genealogy sites where you can access (and publish) published family trees and various documents. It is best to use this resource with a critical eye. The data offered are unverified and contain errors. Always verify with the original sources. Use them as a hint when you are stuck.

Guide to genealogy and family history

Discover your own family history for yourself by beginning genealogy research. Following websites will teach you step by step.

Would you add another online genealogical source? Feel free to let me know. We learn every day!

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