Some Secondary Resources for the Belgians in and around Moline, Illinois.

No comprehensive work exists describing the Belgian immigration to the Moline, Illinois area. The following is a brief annotated bibliography of works, some more scholarly than others, that include information about this particular Belgian-American community.

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The Belgians in Moline, Illinois: An Overview.

Sacred Heart (Belgian Church) in Moline, Illinois. (Wikicommons)

Did you know that during the first two decades of the twentieth century, Moline, Illinois,  was the major center for the Belgian immigrants? Not only did the area receive a large portion of the new arrivals, but the city even hosted its own Flemish newspaper, the Gazette van Moline.1

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Visiting the Past with Mariette Smith-Six.

Smith-Six, Mariette. Visiting the Past: A Memoir of a Belgian-American Immigrant. [Port Huron, Mich.: Privately Printed,] 2010. 230 p. ISBN 978-0-615-38969-1.

Smith-Six, Mariette. Visiting the Past: A Memoir of a Belgian-American Immigrant. [Port Huron, Mich.: Privately Printed,] 2010. 230 p. ISBN 978-0-615-38969-1.
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This Change in Access to Belgian Vital Records Will Please Family Historians

In a previous post I mentioned that Belgian vital records less than 100 years old are not open to the public. This is about to change, and genealogists with recent Belgian ancestry should be excited. The new law will take effect on 31 March 2019.1

  • Death records will become public after 50 years. I.e. on 1 April 2019 you will be able to request a transcript of the death record for anyone who died before 1 April 1969.
  • Marriage records will become public after 75 years. I.e., on 1 April 2019 you will be able to request a transcript of the marriage record for anyone who married before 1 April 1944.
  • Birth records remain closed for 100 years.
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Ethnic Press as a Historical and Genealogical Resource.

Did you know that, just like the Germans, Italians, and other ethnic groups in America, the Belgians created and maintained their own ethnic press? The two best known Belgian-American newspapers are the Gazette van Moline, which appeared from 1907 until 1940 in Moline, Illinois, and the Gazette van Detroit (Detroit, Michigan), which was first published in 1914, published its first online issue in 2006, went completely digital in 2015, and, sadly, was discontinued in December 2018. In addition, there were several other more short-lived publications. Most were written in Dutch, yet at least two were issued by Walloons, and therefore were composed in French.

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Apologies

There was a small glitch this morning when I posted the article on navigating Belgian Vital Records at FamilySearch. My apologies. I hope this time the link will work.

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Navigating Belgian Vital Records at FamilySearch: A Flemish Example.

The nineteenth-century civil records for Belgium were microfilmed by The Church of the Latter-Day-Saints, and have since then been digitized. They are freely available at FamilySearch.org. Indexing of the records however is very sparse. You will need to browse the records, so it is helpful to have a general idea of time and place before you start.

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How many Belgian-Americans are we talking about?

Today, about 356,405 people in the United States claim Belgian ancestry, an estimate which appears to be low, especially when compared with the estimated number of Dutch Americans: 4,289,116.(1) Did that many more Netherlanders immigrate to the United States?

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Searching for Flemish ancestors with Jozef Goethals.

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

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.

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About Belgian Vital Records.

Kalmthout, Belgium. Register bestemt ter Inschrijving der Huwelijks-Akten voor het Jaar Een Duizend Acht Honderd Zes en Negentig.
Kalmthout, Belgium. Register bestemt ter Inschrijving der Huwelijks-Akten voor het Jaar Een Duizend Acht Honderd Zes en Negentig. [Register for the purpose of Registering the Marriage Acts for the Year Eight Hundred and Eighty-Nine.]

Here is the good news for Americans who are tracing their ancestors in Belgium: unlike the United States where some states did not require civil birth, death, or marriage records until the end of the nineteenth century, vital records have been meticulously kept for about 225 years in Belgium, and they contain a wealth of information.

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