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The FamilySearch moderator for Belgium is Daniel Jones.

The major languages of records in Belgium are Flemish (Dutch) in the North, and Walloon (French) in the South, and German in the East. Latin was used extensively, particularly in Catholic records.[1] Belgium Languages.png

Belgium has always been linguistically divided and to this day there is much political division between the different regions of Belgium.

Belgium can be divided into four broad regions:

In Flanders (Vlaanderen), the language was and is Flemish, a variant of Dutch

In Brussels, the local language was traditionally Flemish, but since 1800 has been progressively displaced by French. Brussels has been designated a bilingual area but in practice only 10% of modern day Brussels speaks Dutch.

In Wallonia, the local language is French.

In parts of Liege that were annexed from Germany following WW1, German is still used.

What a genealogist needs to know is:

Catholic church records always used Latin. Other churches used the local language.

Civil registration and government records can be written in either French or Flemish depending on the area and the political situation at the time.

Any other records are likely to be written in the local language.

Dutch Records

German Records

  • It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French and German to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read German records.
German Genealogical Word List
German Handwriting
  • These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:
  • Also online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:

This converter will show you how any phrase or name might look in German script:

  • Kurrentschrift Converter (enter German genealogical word, click on "convert", view your word in Kurrentschrift (Gothic handwriting)

French Records

You do not have to be fluent in French to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read French records.

French Genealogical Word List
French Handwriting.
  • There is a three-lesson course in reading French Records:
Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The French Alphabet,
Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Key Words and Phrases
Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading French Records

Latin Records

Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:

References

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Belgium,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1987-1999.