Collections and Provenance
The Belgian newspapers, weekly or monthly magazines and journals that can be found via Belgian Press from the Great War are being preserved in seventeen memory institutions. They collected these publication during and in the years following the war.
The majority of the wartime newspapers originate from the collections of several research libraries: the Royal Library of Belgium, the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library, the Ghent University Library and the KU Leuven Libraries.
These libraries had subscriptions to the daily newspapers, and weekly and monthly magazines and journals published during the First World War.
The (censored) regular press therefore often ended up in their collections shortly after publication.
Press Genres Related to the War
Illegal press, trench newspapers, refugee press, and prisoners of war press often entered the collections of these libraries via private collectors. For example, the KU Leuven University acquired the Henderick-Vervliet collection, containing a large number of rare Belgian titles from the war period. Alexis Verbouwe gifted a collection of 140 rare trench newspapers to the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library, largely as complete series.
To keep the memory alive, numerous other memory institutions have acquired a collection in the past hundred years. This applies particularly for the clandestine press that is stored at the State Archives of Belgium. These newspapers form part of the Archives de la Guerre (War Archives) that were collected shortly after the Great War to keep the memory of the war alive and to gather the documentation needed to prove that Germany had breached international law.
In recent years, specialised heritage institutions such as the In Flanders Fields Museum and the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 have continued this task of collection development, particularly from the perspective of the frontline region, which was heavily marked by the Great War. They often possess unique copies of frontline newspapers and other forms of press coverage.
Local and Specialised Publications
A valuable addition to these collections is contributed by memory institutions with a regional, religious or thematic focus:
Kortrijk Public Library, Library Hasselt Limburg, Westflandrica Heritage Library, Amsab-ISG, ADVN, AMVB, KADOC, the Liberal Archive and the House of Literature. These institutions keep local or highly specific periodicals that often cannot be found in large institutions.
These are important for obtaining particular groups’ perspectives of the war. The offer wide-ranging opinions on and perceptions of the war and unique opportunities to gain an understanding of the (often competing and conflicting) community formation in the context of a major conflict.