Human Sciences

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:

    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.)
      >>> more information

    4. Consulting the archives

    The archives can be consulted in the CAPA-building (building E on the map) by appointment.

    Natural Sciences

    The Geodynamics and natural resources section holds several field notes and archives of mining companies.
    > read more



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