In 1982 Carol Dickerman and David Northrup published a useful article on Africa-related archives in Belgium. Their work was limited, however, to two public institutions in Brussels which, in the past 12 years, have moved and grown. What is needed now is a more up-to-date and comprehensive list of Belgian public and private collections with historical or ethnological archives concerning Africa.
In Belgium such archives are unfortunately not grouped in one place, but are spread over a dozen public and private institutions according to their nature—diplomatic, military, religious, ethnological—or origin. Thus the foreign researcher who attempts to find these archives must often undertake trying adventures, and once they have succeeded, they still must obtain numerous authorizations to use reading rooms and to consult and photocopy documents. Thus this paper aims to list the different Belgian institutions with major archives, to indicate what is available in their collections, and to describe how to gain access, in the hope that foreign researchers will be able to benefit fully from the archival riches of Belgium.
The Africa-related documents in Belgian archives and libraries mostly concern Central Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In addition, some collections are relevant to Belgian African politics in general and to Leopold II's expansionist aims in other parts of the continent.