Cultural Anthropology and History

Since its creation in 1898, the museum has kept the archives of private individuals, companies and institutions that have a link with the former Congo Free State or Belgian Congo. 

The museum's work as a scientific institution has also produced a significant and varied collection of museum archives.

Visit the database Archives@AfricaMuseum to consult its contents. Also see the Guide des sources de l'histoire de la colonisation.


Henry Morton Stanley archives

The personal archives of journalist and traveller Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) contain:

  • 65 travel journals and notebooks
  • 10,000 letters
  • 800 drawings, photographs, slides and maps
  • manuscripts and press cuttings 

The Stanley archives belong to the King Baudouin Foundation. The Royal Museum for Central Africa keeps and manages and them.

Please note that due to institutional reorganisation consulting the Stanley archives is suspended until further notice. We appologize for the inconvenience. We remain at your disposal should you have any question.

Chief Scientist:
Mathilde Leduc-Grimaldi
+32 2 769 52 79


Private individual archives - Colonial History

Some 400 archive collections covering:

  • European exploration of Central Africa from the middle of the 19th century
  • Leopold II’s colonial expansion policy
  • the Congo Free State
  • the Congo under Belgian colonial rule.

Visit the database Archives@Africamuseum to consult its contents:

> go to


Private individual archives - Decolonisation and independant Congo

Twenty archive collections covering political developments in the DR Congo between 1950 and the present day, with 400 boxes of archives originating from private individuals who lived or worked in the Congo or who carried out research on the Congo. 

The largest include:

  • the Benoît Verhaegen collection (founder and former director of the  Centre d'Études et de Documentation africaines, CEDAF)
  • the Kithima bin Ramazani collection (archives of the Mouvement populaire de la Révolution, MPR political party)
  • the Jules Gérard-Libois collection (founder and president of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques, CRISP, and the Centre d'Études et de Documentation africaines, CEDAF, a large portion of which may be consulted in the online catalogue)
  • the Renée Fox collection (former professor at the University of Pennsylvania, specialist in the sociology of medicine)
  • the Honoré Paelinck collection (containing documents concerning the Office national des Transports, ONATRA).

The different components of these archive collections are registered in the catalogue of the Library of Independent Congo.

> Online catalogue of the Library of Independent Congo


Historical archives of the Royal Museum for Central Africa

The RMCA’s institutional archives contain a vast and varied collection of documents, the oldest of which date back to 1910, the year in which the building of the Museum of the Belgian Congo was inaugurated.

They include mission reports from scientists who travelled in Africa at the beginning of the colonial period.

Visit the database Archives@Africamuseum to consult its contents:

> go to


Archives of companies and institutions

In the years that followed the Congo's independence, several major mining, forestry and railway companies and a number of Belgian institutions that had operated in the country donated their administrative archives to the museum. 

Some of these collections have been catalogued by the Association pour la valorisation des archives d’entreprises (AVAE-VVBA).

Visit the database Archives@Africamuseum to consult its contents:

> go to

More information on the archives of the Groupe Empain and the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer du Bas-Congo au Katanga (pdf, 129 Kb)