S.O.S. Antwerp

S.O.S. Antwerp

Database of Causes of Death (1820-1946)

The database S.O.S. Antwerp contains a detailed description of all causes of death in the city of Antwerp from 1820 until 1946. Of each person who died in the city during this period, the cause of death and individual data from other sources are brought together and made ready for scientific and other research.


TTitle: S.O.S. Antwerp – Causes of Death Database

Author: Ghent University, Antwerp University, Felixarchief Antwerpen and Histories vzw 

Population/Subject: Description of individual causes of death, of personal characteristics (name, sex, age, marital status, profession, parents) and of circumstances of death (date, address, mortician, doctor, care institution, etc.)

Region: City of Antwerp

Period: 1820-1946

Number of units: ca. 480.000 individuals

Number of variables: 60

Format: CSV, XLS, PDF

Accessibility: No restrictions beyond the general terms of use of the Quetelet Center.

Context of the databank

The database containing all deaths that occurred between 1820 and 1946 on the former territory of the city of Antwerp is being developed by the citizen science project S.O.S. Antwerp Social Inequality in Mortality. For this project, the unique collection of death registers from this city will be fully digitized, converted into a large-scale harmonized database and linked to other historical sources. 

The input is done by volunteers under the supervision of employees of the Quetelet Center, who are also responsible for quality control. Part of the data is digitized via the input platform of Vele Handen.

S.O.S. Antwerp is a citizen science project funded by the Flemish government (Department of Economy, Science and Innovation). More info about the project is available on the website www.sosantwerpen.be.

What data can you find in this database?

The S.O.S. Antwerp database includes all persons who died on the former territory of the city between 1820 and 1946. The data is mainly based on the city death registers that have been preserved for the full period 1820-1946. No other city or municipality in Belgium has such a complete and comprehensive series. The registers mention for each deceased person the cause of death and various other data, such as age, sex, profession, marital status, the doctor who established the cause of death, the mortician and the place of burial. The data is systematically checked and supplemented with data on the address and parents using the death registers of the Civil Registry.

How can you use data from the database?

The database is being developed for a variety of research purposes. Researchers will be able to use the data to study mortality, disease, epidemics in relation to social inequality and other fundamental developments in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. The infrastructure will also be used for spatial research after linking with existing Geographical Information Systems. In addition, genealogists and non-professionals will be well served by the large amount of personal data that will be made searchable for the first time.

The database is under construction and is scheduled to go live in the course of 2022-2023. A user-friendly version will be placed online by the Felixarchief Antwerpen for public purposes after the project is completed. Anyone wishing to use the data infrastructure can also contact a member of staff at the Quetelet Center (Queteletcenter@ugent.be).

You can follow the status of the project at www.sosantwerpen.be.