WP5: Knowledge Management for a Social Science History of Justice

This transversal WP is intended to support and promote the research of the entire network. It aims at

  • Supporting strategies of collection, appraisal and digitisation of (un)published judicial sources;
  • Developing methodological tools, research instruments and metadata;
  • Making research in the field more productive and visible, both to the scientific community and the larger public;
  • Organising common research training.

Coordinators: Xavier Rousseaux & Aude Musin

Partners involved: All

Access to Judicial Sources

The provision of general archival support and the mobilisation of the State Archives’ specific expertise on judicial archives constituted a major benefit for the previous IAP program on the history of Belgian justice administration, and for the research of the different partners involved. During phase VII of the IAP project, the State Archives will continue opening up diverse judicial archives, mainly from the regions of Brussels and Wallonia. It is absolutely inconceivable that the backlog regarding the minimum opening up and online provision of finding aids on archives will be cleared within the framework of this partnership. Inventories were finalised for the archives of:

  • the judicial police of Brussels (1921-1976)
  • the Brussels Public Prosecutor Office (1918–1985)
  • the psychiatric ward of the prison of Forest (1922-1976)
  • the military jurisdictions of Liege, Namur and Luxemburg (1815-1947)
  • the prisons of Verviers and Huy

Soon inventories will be available regarding the archives of:

  • the Brussels Correctional Court (1893-1965)
  • the prisons of Arlon, Marche, Neufchâteau and Saint-Léonard

Delphine Picron, Paul Drossens and Christophe Martens wrote a guide for the archives of military courts.


Research Tools

During the previous phase of the project, major efforts were undertaken to develop databases for accessing and understanding relevant information about Belgian justice history. Three applications were developed to meet these needs: Just-his repository, Belgian Magistrates, Quetelet.net. These three applications offer the researchers of the network easier access to a lot of data which are essential for their research. But they are also useful for a large audience outside the network (scientific community, decision makers, citizens, journalists, etc). They are regularly consulted and used by people outside the network and outside Belgian territory.

Just-his repository aims at providing the scientific community, the general public as well as judicial authorities with as many documentary, bibliographic and archive resources as possible, focused on the socio-political history of law and justice in Belgium from 1795 to present day.

Belgian Magistrates is a prosopographical database and a repository on Belgian magistrates and Belgian colonial magistrates (1795–1960). The aim of this tool is to further the study of the socio-political history of the magistracy as a professional group since the time of its formation in 1795 under French control, later to become the subject of the social history of elites in modern Belgium.

Quetelet.net enables Belgian judicial statistics to be accessible and understandable to a large audience. all these serialized data for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are available online, with a critical viewpoint to make their use easier for researchers, policymakers, the media and citizens. Now it is possible for a new user to access data, thanks to a cube created by expert staff. So, the complex requests space is used to create cubes but is not, however, an obstacle to the comprehension of results.

New data will regularly be added to these databases during the current phase of the project.

A fourth digital research tool is under development for Belgian judicial records related to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide: Digitisation of Belgian judicial sources related to the repression of international crimes. This rich archival heritage is held at the Belgian State Archives. The project focuses on three particular chronological moments: the attempts to judge German war criminals in the 1920s and 1940s following the First and the Second World War and the occupation of Belgium; and the experiences with universal jurisdiction and international judicial cooperation through the 1990s. These archives will be described according to international archival standards. Alongside this description phase, the tool to research (database) and to access (web-based) the records will be designed. Indeed, the aim is not to massively digitise files without prior description, but rather to offer the possibility to search for the record through very diverse entries. Finally, the files will be digitised and made available through the Belgian State Archives website, the Legal Tools database of the icc and this website.


Publication Programme

IAP research results are published in the IAP series initiated during the previous phase. The proceedings of the WP's international conferences will be published by Springer.


Training activities

The network regularly organizes training activities for its researchers, especially for its PhD students. Among others,

  • Summer School Research Methodologies in Social Sciences (Montréal, 1-5 July 2013; Louvain-la-Neuve, 30 June-4 July 2014).
  • Doctoral Seminar Trust in Justice: Degree and Antecedents of Trust in the Criminel Justice Chain (Leuven, 22 October 2013).
  • Masterclass on Visual Representations of Law and Justice "Fiat lex: History-Jurisprudence-Art. An Interdisciplinary Masterclass on Visual Representations of Law and Justice" by Pr. Desmond Manderson (Ghent, 24-26 September 2014).


WP5 (DigitJustHis)
Picture: by debka, Id 196710 on stock.xchng

The Interuniversity Attraction Pole P7/22 "Justice & Populations: The Belgian Experience in International Perspective, 1795-2015" (BeJust 2.0) is part of the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme Phase VII (2012-2017), financed by the Belgian Science Policy Office of the Belgian State.

The IAP VII/22 Justice & Populations www.bejust.be is the outcome of a collaboration between the Cegesoma, the IAP coordination team (CHDJ-UCL) and the Royal Military Academy. Design: tangografix. Powered by Drupal