Belgian-American Research Collection
The establishment of this collection resulted from a grant received in 1975-1976. The purpose of the grant was to collect, identify, and catalog books, photographs, manuscripts, maps and other materials documenting people of Belgian descent living in the United States with an emphasis on those living in Brown, Door and Kewaunee Counties.
To date, the Belgian-American Research Collection focuses on the rural Walloon settlements, with a limited amount of Flemish materials. The collection includes oral history interviews, photographs, maps, a research file, books and manuscript materials.
What is in the Collection?
A component of the grant project was an architectural survey of Belgian-American farms in the area that had been owned for five or six generations of the same family. Oral history interviews were conducted with these individuals to record information about the farm. The grant staff also prepared original maps of the farms. The maps indicate the physical layout of the farm as well as the location of buildings and gardens. The maps contain historical information as well as information from the date of the mapping project.
A detailed photo survey and architectural notes were also conducted on log structures.
The Architectural Survey, Log Structures and Farm Maps form part of the Belgian-American Digital Research Collection.
Belgian Pedigree Charts
As part of the grant to create our Belgian-American Research Collection, the Area Research Center collected pedigree charts from individuals of Belgian descent. The pedigree charts are not available online, but each of the nearly 4,000 names on them is contained within a searchable index. Pedigree charts for individuals of Belgian descent are still accepted for the collections.
Oral History Recordings
During the grant period, oral history interviews were conducted with local Belgian-Americans. The oral history interviews cover subjects such as folklore, fishing, customs, foods, occupations, and religious beliefs. Some of the interviews contain Walloon folk songs with translations. Personal interviews were also conducted with farmstead owners to accompany the architecture survey of Belgian-American farms.
A list of the interviewees and a brief summary of each interview is available online. Full abstracts are available in the Belgian-American Research Collection at the Archives Department.
The interviews are available for researchers to hear online. Copies of oral history recordings may be made for researchers upon request.
The Belgian-American collection contains over 1500 photographs of Belgian families, farms, celebrations, traditions and events. You can search and view the photos online. Copies of photos may be made for researchers upon request.
Research Vertical File
The Belgian-American Research Collection Research Vertical File is arranged alphabetically by subject. Materials in the files include articles, newspaper clippings, reports, family histories and recipes. The topics covered include customs, immigration and communities. The contents of the Belgian Research File can be searched in Search@UW.