State Archives of Belgium

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In its monthly photo journal, the State Archives illustrates the tasks and missions it carries out and how and why it goes about doing them. Through texts and photographs by staff in charge of conservation, archivists, reading room personnel, drivers, Ph.D. students, etc., you can experience a typical day at the State Archives. This month, it is Delphine’s turn to show you around!

Delphine Lauwers has earned her doctorate from the European University Institute in Florence in 2014. For her thesis, she carried out research about remembrance conflicts with regard to the First World War and its commemorations (1914-2014), in particular about the Ypres bulge. Since 1 October 2015, Delphine Lauwers does a post-doctorate at the National Archives of Belgium within the framework of the BRAIN project “Jusinbellgium, A century of pioneering case-law. A digital database of Belgian precedents of international justice, 1914-2014”. The project is led by an inter‑disciplinary team of researchers in history and law. It is a collaboration between the National Archives of Belgium (NAB), Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL), International Research and Documentation Centre for War Crimes Trials (ICWC) of the Philipps‑Universität Marburg and the International Criminal Court.

The central aim of the project is to identify, describe and digitise judicial records produced by Belgian jurisdictions in the context of lawsuits held after mass violence and wars in the period from 1914 to 2014. For this purpose, the team develops a digital research tool for Belgian judicial records related to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The project seeks to integrate these records into a dynamic, interconnected and international archival environment, and thus valorise the collections beyond Belgium by means of a sustainable and multidisciplinary web-based research tool. This research aid will be hosted on the website of the International Criminal Court, in the “Legal Tools” section.

So far, the Jusinbellgium team has primarily been busy processing, digitising and describing court records about German war criminals put on trial following the two World Wars. These archives are conserved at NAB 2 - Joseph Cuvelier repository, where Delphine Lauwer is employed. Together with her archivist colleagues, and with trainees and students, she digitises the archives and supervises the work. The team also describes these archives; for this purpose, a special research tool (database) and a file card template for identifying the records has been developed. This “ID card” is the first page of each digitised court record in PDF format and enables researchers to find back the original document, provides the global archival context and an overview of the case.

1. Description of post-WWI court files according to the procedures developed for the Jusinbellgium project.

2. Meeting at the research centre Mondes modernes et contemporains at ULB, where Pierre-Alain Tallier chaired a debate about the future priorities in the relationship between the NAB and universities.

3. Discussion taking place at ULB, with Linn-Sophie Loeberl (ICWC, Marburg, Germany), trainee at the Jusinbellgium project; Pierre-Alain Tallier; Delphine Lauwers and Pieter Lagrou, co-ordinator of the Jusinbellgium project.

4. The post-WWII court records are digitised with the help of Linn-Sophie according to the current archival norms and the particular standards set up for the project.

5. Explanation about how the scans must be processed so that they can be described, converted into a PDF file and published online. e-Procurement