Diplomatic archive

Here is a brief overview of the main collections:

  • Collection of political correspondence and general publications, starting in 1830:

    Belgian consular and diplomatic correspondence, categorised by country and in chronological order. Most of the political correspondence up to 1934 is kept in bound volumes. Correspondence with consulates between 1832 and 1890 and between 1900 and 1910 is gathered together in separate bound volumes.
  • All documents of political and economic importance:

    Documents listed using a continuous numbering system and divided into subjects or listed geographically or filed by name.

    Most of this kind of documentation, along with the development of ministerial remits, which mirror the structure of the respective ministry:
    • General files concerning the internal politics of countries and their economic situation (files created by ministerial units, allotted remits on a geographical basis);
    • specific files covering multiple aspects of bilateral and multilateral relations in which Belgium was – or still is – involved, including official VIP visits, protocol files, the problem of political refugees, wars, major conferences, border issues, etc.);
    • files created owing to the diversification and growing number of European, Western or international organisations, and relating to them and to the role Belgium plays in them, including economic integration;
    • files documenting the development of Belgian foreign and domestic trade, (statistics, trade agreements, treaties, the defence of Belgium’s economic interests abroad, Belgian emigration, colonisation, loans and Belgian establishments abroad) plus documents concerning problems of communication (inland, maritime or aerial navigation), since the Directorate-General of the Navy fell under the ministry’s jurisdiction until 1873).
    • The ministry’s archives also contain numerous files on various Belgian private companies (mainly ranging from the 19th century to the early 20th century).
    • Press files
      Collections of press cuttings on specific topics, from 1890 to 1950.
  • Microfilms
    • Category ‘P’ and category ‘B’ microfilms: documents impacting on policy (P) or trade policy (B), which have been stored on film (copies of existing paper files) to ensure their preservation (copies of existing files and/or papers) or as an alternative to archiving them in paper form.
      The contents of these series of microfilms are catalogued separately and listed in the general index card file by name and subject.
    • Quai d’Orsay microfilms: microfilm copies of selected documents kept at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, mainly political correspondence with the French authorities about general colonial affairs and Belgian colonial affairs in particular.
    • ‘Nobility’ microfilms: the ministry’s Archives Department is actually only the depository of these microfilms for which the original documents belong to its Nobility Department. Microfilming handwritten documents, many of which are ancient, makes them accessible to researchers but avoids the inevitable deterioration of originals caused by repeated handling.