Goethals, Jozef J. and Karel Denys. Searching for Flemish (Belgian) Ancestors. Baltimore, Maryland: Printed for Clearfield Co. by Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007. 81 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. ISBN-13: 978-0-8063-5342-5
This excellent guide to genealogical research in Flanders was produced in 2007 by Jozef Goethals, in collaboration with Karel Denys. It was the first book of its kind published in English since the arrival of the internet, and one to which I will refer often while I am writing this blog. A lot has changed since 2007—many more records have been made available online—and as a result the guide is slightly outdated when it comes to how to access digital images of the records. But the work remains extremely valuable because of its detailed description and analysis of the Belgian records, especially the civil and parish records, and its useful appendices.
The contents are as follows:
Table of Contents
Sketches the history of Flanders and Belgium and the waves of Belgian emigration to North America.
I. Belgian Sources in the U.S.A.
Describes the sources that are available in the United States before “jumping the pond” to records in the old country: general Sources and Internet Web Sites, genealogical societies, library collections, etc.
II. Civil Records in Flanders from 1796
Focuses primarily on Belgian civil vital records. Birth, marriage, and death records are analyzed and translated from Dutch or French into English. Explains how to convert French Republican calendar dates into Gregorian dates. •
III. Parish Records.
Describes Flemish parochial registers, which were kept in Flanders from about 1600 onwards, and their available indexes. Sample birth, marriage, and burial records are analyzed and translated from Latin into English. The author shares his preferred method for analyzing parish records.
IV. Other Sources of the Old Regime.
Introduces other pre-1796 sources, such as the Aldermen’s Bench (Schepenbank), estate inventories and orphan guardianship records, tax lists, and lists of resident and nonresident burghers (poorters).
- Flemish surnames and first names.
- State Archives in Flanders.
- Flemish Association for Family History
- Currency and Land Measurements
- Glossary of Flemish, French and Latin Terms
About the authors:
Jozef Goethals was born at Torhout, Belgium on 8 March 1937. He joined the International Missionary Institute of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM) at Scheut-Brussels in 1956, and served in Philippines until 1970 when he left the order. He emigrated to the United States that year and became a teacher in Baltimore. He resides in Maryland, and has published two family histories on the Goethals family.
Karel Denys was born in Roeselare, Belgium on 25 July 1920. He also joined CICM in 1938. He first served in China, but was sent to the U.S.A. in 1948 where he served in parishes in Virginia, Philadelphia, and Louisiana, before coming to the “Belgian Church” of Our Lady of Sorrows in Detroit. He is one of the co-founders of the Genealogical Society of Flemish-Americans.
Cite this post
Kristine Smets. “Searching for Flemish Ancestors with Jozef Goethals,”The Belgian American (https://www.thebelgianamerican.com : accessed [date]), posted 7 January 2019.
 Nieuwe Encyclopedie van de Vlaamse Beweging. Ed. Ludo Simons. Tielt: Lannoo, 1998. http://theater.ua.ac.be/nevb/index.html.