“African files” transferred from Foreign Office to State Archives
Thursday, 11 December 2014
Over the course of next few years, the Foreign Office will transfer its “African archives” to the Belgian State Archives. This transfer was approved at midday on Thursday, with Dirk Achten, Secretary General at Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, and Karel Velle, Director General of the Belgian State Archives, signing a memorandum at the Palais d’Egmont in Brussels. These archives cover the years 1885-1962 and were passed on by the former ministry of the Colonies and the Governor General of the Congo.
The files will therefore be transferred to the State Archives between 2015 and 2018, which is a legal obligation requiring the automatic transfer of any archive held for over 50 years to the State Archives. Furthermore, “at this time of budgetary restrictions”, the Belgian State Archives are better equipped to preserve and conserve files, adds the Foreign Office.
Although the transfer will be spread out over 3 years, the documents themselves will never be unavailable for more than 2 weeks at a time, adds the Foreign Office. “Archives which are currently only available in hard copies will be easier to access, as they will be digitalised and published on the State Archives website,” adds the Foreign Office.
The Foreign Office remains in possession of diplomatic archives and those dealing with cooperation and development. These will need to be catalogued before they are transferred as well.