Historical ecology of the Limburg Kempen

Bijdrage tot de historische ecologie van de Limburgse Kempen (1910-1950) : tweehonderd gesprekken samengevat

Uitgever: Stichting Natuurpublicaties Limburg
ISBN: 9789074508087

In the Belgian-Limburg Kempen region, Joël Burny asked older residents about how they interacted with their landscape in the first half of the 20th century. His research shows that traditional insights often do not hold true for this specific area. The new insights should provide more guidance in determining the current form of management, which should be based much more on historically accurate references.


The book is a summary of a large series of interviews conducted with 96 elderly residents in the Belgian-Limburg Kempen region. These interviews covered the traditional use of heathland and stream valley grasslands, providing a picture of how the landscape functioned in the early 20th century. This is the period before the mechanisation of agriculture and before the large-scale use of nitrogen-rich manure.

The interviews revealed details of the historical use of the landscape that would otherwise have been lost. These include work done by farmers in the first half of the 20th century related to watercourses, stream valley grasslands, liquid meadows, dry and wet heaths and fish ponds.

Fat cattle market

Oral testimonies recorded about Zomergem’s Vette Veemarkt.

Interviews Gaby De Zutter


Fat Cattle Market


The book is the eighth issue within the Erfgoed Leeft series, which from now on will be called Erfgoed Meetjesland. This book is the first in a new layout with more color, more photos and more pages. In terms of content, we continue the familiar momentum of offering quality in a simple and clear style. We also keep the focus on oral testimonies. In this way, each edition takes on a personal character.

Welcome to the world of cattle fairs, with beautiful prize animals, proud farmers, large allotments and strict veterinarians. The Vette Veemarkt of Zomergem occupies a special place in the Meetjesland. Once a year this community is turned upside down. By means of personal stories we tell the story of this alive tradition.

World War II in the Southern Westhoek


2015 commemorated the start of World War II. 75 years earlier, war broke out for the second time that century, gripping all of Europe. The occupation also made itself felt in Belgium and the Southern Westhoek. Many remembered the atrocities committed by the Germans in World War I and kept quiet to save their own skin. Others actively joined the resistance. The children walked among them, hearing stories and having adventures.

The interviews are the thread running through the publication with DVD presented in March 2016. In 2016 and 2017, a mobile exhibition also travelled around the region on the theme. In addition, several cycling and walking tours were developed along striking places and stories in the region.

Border stories: Across the border

In 2012 and 2013, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Belgian-French border, Heritage Unit CO7, Municipality of Langemark-Poelkapelle and their French partners Office de Tourisme Cassel Horizons and storytelling association Paroles Bohèmes (Cassel) went in search of fun border stories on both sides of the ‘schreve’ in 2012 and 2013.


On 17 March 2013, the collected stories were symbolically exchanged after the project’s performance at café d’Heybeke in border village Haringe. Afterwards, three French and three Flemish storytellers took this together to work out a bilingual storytelling programme highlighting both Flemish and French perspectives on past life along the border. The programme was performed on both sides of the border during two storytelling evenings for a mixed Belgian-French audience as part of storytelling festivals ‘Détours & Raccourds’ (Cassel) and ‘KLAPZ!…. Across borders’ (Langemark-Poelkapelle).


On 25 August 2013, the storytelling festival ‘KLAPZ!..! About Borders’ took place on the Fedasil estate in Poelkapelle. The centre’s residents all crossed one or more borders. Their story is reminiscent of that of many Westhoekers during the First World War. Through an experimental project on ‘borders’, the residents contributed to the storytelling festival KLAPZ! They are accompanied in this by the socio-artistic operation De Figuranten from Menen.





Young or old, male or female, ardent enthusiast or sporadic counter…. The stories of finchers of all sizes and weights are recorded for the future.
Finchers have a lot to tell: about caring for their birds, breeding finches, finch society.

Excerpts from the interviews have been used in the travelling exhibition Suskewiet

By way of example, you can listen to one such excerpt here:  fragment_smokkel

Oral history of manual hop picking

De hopoogst in Hekelgem in 1913

Kort, rap & zonder blad – Hoppepluk tussen 1880-1960

Author: Mathias Cheyns

Publisher: De Klaproos, 2009
ISBN: 9789055081059

This project, which ran from October 2008 to June 2009, was an initiative of the Poperinge Hop Museum. Fifty former hop pickers and hop farmers from the two big Flemish hop-growing regions, the Aalst-Asse region and the wide area around Poperinge, were interviewed in a scientific way. More than 40 hours of testimonies about a special piece of agricultural history were recorded and preserved for posterity. After all, until the early 1960s, hops were picked entirely by hand. Thousands of Flemings were at work in the hop fields during the first weeks of September, making picking a social event par excellence.


The testimonies were compiled, cross-checked with other sources and processed into the book ‘Kort, rap en zonder blad. Hop-picking between 1880 and 1960’.


TRANSMEMO is a collaboration between the State Archives (Cegesoma), UGent and UCL. It is an interdisciplinary project of historians and social psychologists. Nico Wouters, operational director of CegeSoma, is the project manager for the State Archives.


project transmemo


TRANSMEMO is a two-year research project on intergenerational transmission of memories, specifically how memories of resistance and collaboration during World War II are passed from parents to their children and grandchildren.


The method used is oral history. Through interviews with three generations (survivors-children-great-grandchildren), we examine how certain perceptions about the collaboration and resistance were formed in family circles. In this way we want to better understand how collective memories can become so persistent in a society, which in this case is relevant for example with regard to the different perceptions about WW II in French-speaking Belgium and Flanders.

The project also uses CegeSoma’s extensive collection of oral sources, and aims to open up this historical collection for the first time for the study of collective memory. The interviews made during the project will be deposited at CegeSoma.


The project also has a social component: it aims to allow children and grandchildren of collaborators and members of the resistance to confront and dialogue with each other about how their (grand)parents’ past has shaped their own lives and views. It should lead to a better understanding about the processing of WWII in Belgium, but more globally also about the role that unresolved collective traumas from the past play in creating lasting social tensions.


The series will be broadcast on Belgian radio and will also be available as podcast on the CegeSoma website Belgium WWII.


Author : Koen Aerts
ISBN : 9789463101868
Publisher: Pelckmans

This book is the result of years of research by Koen Aerts (University of Ghent/CegeSoma-State archives) and has already been  published in Dutch in 2018 by Polis (Kinderen van de repressie. Hoe Vlaanderen worstelt met de bestraffing van de collaboratie.). Based on dozens of interviews with children of Flemish collaborators, it tries to define how collaboration and post-war repression in Flanders still echo across generations.


The author combines his research with a broader political and socio-cultural history of the postwar image of collaboration and repression, so that his book becomes a larger reference work on “the past not overcome” of World War II in Flanders and Belgium.

Koen Aerts further conducted part of the follow-up research within the TRANSMEMO project (BRAIN-Belspo), in which CegeSoma (State Archives) was a partner.

Among the people



150 witnesses were interviewed and new photographic material was collected. The project will be completed in June 2010.

Number of audio clips interviews: 35

Accessibility of total interviews unclear


The project came about in cooperation between OPZ Geel, the city council of Geel, the VZW KOGEKA, the OMV Gasthuismuseum, the Geels Geschiedkundig Genootschap and FARO.


For more information, contact:

Bert Boeckx
Archivist OPZ
Pass 200
2440 Geel
014 57 91 11

This image and sound bank is the result of the oral history project of the same name that took place between 2007 and 2010.
During that period, historians, staff members and former staff members of the OPZ, volunteers and young people interviewed all kinds of witnesses about the last decades of the age-old Geel family nursing home. Listen to their stories, look at old photos and let a piece of family nursing history come to life!


Authors : Bert Boeckx, Geert Vandecruys
ISBN : 9789064456091
Publisher: Epo, Uitgeverij

Het verleden van de gezinsverpleging in Geel maakt onmiskenbaar deel uit  van het Vlaamse en zelfs internationale culturele erfgoed. Het doel van het project “Tussen de mensen… de spraakmakende geschiedenis van de Geelse gezinsverpleging.” is om aan de hand van interviews een collectie mondelinge bronnen  over de Geelse gezinsverpleging in al zijn aspecten aan te leggen en te valoriseren door diverse manieren van erfgoedontsluiting. Centraal staat de vraag hoe het was om in de gezinsverpleging te leven en/of te werken. Tezelfdertijd wil dit project ook zicht krijgen op particuliere collecties (foto’s, objecten, …) rond de thuisverpleging.

Broken through the glass ceiling?

Number of interviews: 30

Availability: unknown

In the thesis “The glass ceiling broken?”, Lore Goovaerts examines which women at UGent in the recent past still managed to break through this glass ceiling and in what way they did so. My focus is on the female emeriti of UGent and not on the still active female professors. The emeriti of UGent are a clearly defined group and bear witness to a recent past, namely the situation at UGent during the second half of the 20th century. What are the experiences of female emeriti in relation to gender issues? What is their life story and profile? How did they succeed in becoming professors? Did they experience opposition in their careers because they were women? What was the work/life balance like during their career? Did they have a network with other female professors? Through interviews with several female emeriti, Lore Goovaerts tries to answer these questions.

Het glazen plafond doorbroken?

Master’s thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
for the degree of Master of History.
Academic Year 2015-2016


Goovaert’s thesis focuses on the life stories of women who managed to rise to the highest academic ranks at Ghent University in the second half of the 20th century. This makes her thesis highly relevant both socially and academically. Socially relevant, because to this day, such success is reserved for far too few women and pressure must still be exerted on Dutch and Belgian university administrators to offer women the same career opportunities as men. Scientifically relevant, because beyond the statistical material that often supports policy papers, we actually know very little about how women themselves have experienced the ups and downs of their careers. Lore Goovaerts has produced a methodologically and substantively outstanding piece of work. It does justice to the historical life experience of successful women scientists and also sharpens all of us’ sights on something that should finally become history: the glass ceiling in the university.

From good soil


uit goeie grond


Number of interviews: 17

Availability/Accessibility full interviews: unknown



Discover the horticultural past of Destelbergen, Lochristi, Melle, Merelbeke, Oosterzele and Sint-Lievens-Houtem! Uit goeie grond introduces you to the past of flower farms, tree nurseries and chicory growing through a number of tourist experience elements!


Relive the horticultural past via interactive audio points and cycling and walking routes in the region.


  • Georgette Collin
  • Jacques Sonneville
  • Marc Roggeman
  • André Baert
  • Cecile De Pauw
  • Vien Floré
  • Philippe Nimmegeers
  • zuster Marguerita
  • Carlo De Cooman
  • Jean-Pierre Bouckaert
  • Simonne Van De Kerkhove-Volckaert
  • Noël De Neve
  • Adrien Rahoens
  • Charel Van De Slijke
  • Antoine Van De Keere
  • André Paerewijck
  • Herman D’Hauwers