The RMCA files numerous achieve documents on the history of Central Africa.
Most archives are connected to the former Belgian Congo, the current Democratic Republic of the Congo.
They originate from the RMCA itself, from private individuals or from companies and institutes.
1. RMCA archives
These archive documents -the oldest dating from 1910- are a major historical source. They contain, among others, expedition reports of the first scientists who travelled to Africa at the beginning of the colonial period.
2. Private individual archives
- This concerns over 350 archives of private individuals, with numerous eyewitness reports and travel journals, on a variety of subjects:
- The exploration of Central Africa from the mid-19th century onwards
- Leopold II’s colonial expansion policies
- Congo Free State
- Congo during the Belgian colonial rule
- Congo after the 1960 independence
- The archive of well-known journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley (pdf 2 MB) undoubtedly most appeals to the imagination. This contains, among others, his journal and over 10,000 letters. Our online collections contain a selection of digitized items.
Inventory of the Stanley archives
- You will find an overview of Benoît Verhaegen’s archives in the Contemporary History Section’s online library catalogue.
Benoît Verhaegen’s archives, compiled during his professional activity in Congo, from 1958 to 1989, are a unique source of information on the political evolution of Congo during the 1960s, especially concerning:
- Congo’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba;
- the ABAKO Party;
- the 1960 Round Table;
- the rebellions in Congo (1963-1965).
The catalogue is accessible online at the Contemporary History website.
- An overview of the RMCA's archives can be found in Van Schuylenbergh, P., La mémoire des Belges en Afrique ; Inventaire des archives historiques privées du Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale*.
- Available finding aids:
- Papers Alphonse Cabra* (167 p.- pdf 2.2 MB, French)
- Papers Paul Collaer (54 p. - pdf 306 KB, English)
- Papers Jules Cornet* (104 p. - pdf 1.3 MB, French)
- Papers Françis Dhanis (130 p. - pdf 857 KB, Dutch)
- Papers Felix Fuchs (141 p. - pdf 875 KB, French)
- Papers Cyriaque Gillain* (129 p. - pdf 1.8 MB, French)
- Papers Josué Henry de la Lindi* (239 p . - pdf 3.7 MB, French)
- Papers Charles Lemaire* (218 p. - pdf 2.9 MB, French)
- Papers Richard Mohun (38 p. - pdf 310 KB, Dutch)
- Papers Emmanuel Muller* (37 p. - pdf 560 KB, French)
- Papers Paul Reichard (23 p. - pdf 234 KB, Dutch)
- Papers Albert Sillye* (66 p. - pdf 971 KB, French)
- Papers Henry M. Stanley (430 p. - pdf 2 MB, English)
- Papers Emile Storms (40 p. - 673 KB, Dutch)
- Papers Alphonse Vangele (22 p. - pdf 241 KB, Dutch)
- Papers Auguste Verbeken (29 p. - pdf 318 KB, Dutch)
- Papers Gustave Vervloet* (120 p. - pdf 1.5 MB, French)
(* these volumes were first published in an identical printed version. They are still on sale at the RMCA's Publication service.)
3. Archives of companies and institutes
Many companies and institutes have donated their archives to the museum over the years. The past few years, RMCA seriously invested in making an inventory of these undiscovered sources.
For instance, the RMCA has the archives of:
- Groupe Empain
- Compagnie du Chemin de Fer du Bas-Congo au Katanga (B.C.K.)
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4. Consulting the archives
The archives can be consulted in the CAPA-building (building E on the map) by appointment.
- Reading room regulations (pdf in French) : here you can find practical information in preparation of your visit
- An appointment to consult the archives can be made via historical.archives
- RMCA, private and business archives: Dieter Van Hassel
- Private and company archives: Patricia Van Schuylenbergh
- Stanley archive: Mathilde Leduc-Grimaldi.
The Geodynamics and natural resources section holds several field notes and archives of mining companies.
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