Spatio-temporal research infrastructure for early modern Flanders and Brabant

The STREAM database contains an extensive and diverse collection of local statistics from the early modern period (ca. 1550-1815), which are available for scientific research in combination with specialist subject expertise, spatial information systems and advanced techniques.

Information sheet

Title: Spatio-temporal research infrastructure for early modern Flanders and Brabant

Author: Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel with exception of specific sub-collections

Population/Subject: quantitative series on early modern Flanders and Brabant that can be displayed on a map

Region: Flanders and Brabant, Belgium

Period: 1500-1815

Number of units: ca. 1600 area units

Number of variables: under development

Format: CSV, XLS, PDF

Accessibility: No restrictions on top of the general terms and conditions of use of the Quetelet Center, with the exception of specific sub-collections where permission from the author is required.

Context of the database

STREAM is funded by the Hercules Foundation, Ghent University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) with support from the National Geographical Institute and the State Archives of Belgium.

STREAM contains quantitative and quantifiable sources that can be used to compile regionally diversified data series. The main consideration in the selection of datasets was the application value that the early modern material has for scientific research.

STREAM focuses on the duchy of Brabant and the county of Flanders. This area largely corresponds to the present-day provinces of Flemish and Walloon Brabant, East and West Flanders, Antwerp and the Brussels Region.

Important early modern data collections about this area were identified, critically evaluated, digitised, harmonised and integrated into a data infrastructure.

What data can you find in this database?

The STREAM research infrastructure is still under development.

So far, the sources included contain information about the composition of the population (demographic characteristics, household structure, occupational situation, etc.); the population change on the basis of baptisms, marriages and funerals that are recorded in the parish registers. In addition, the infrastructure also opens up economic, fiscal and social sources such as agricultural censuses (livestock, crops), assessments for tax collection (xxth penning) and lists of persons who received poor relief.

The statistics in question are linked to a customised spatio-temporal reference system that enables comparative research in time and space by linking different datasets to each other and to localities. This system manages the storage, linkage, processing and presentation of the historical data collected.

The geographical files generated by STREAM are derived from base maps of the area in question. For this purpose, the Ferraris map (1770-1777) constitutes the primary source. This map was manually vectorised and then compared with current topographic maps to eliminate geometric discrepancies. As a result, one can view a reconstruction of the landscape, housing, boundaries and transport infrastructure as a series of snapshots over time of the area in question.

How can you use data from the database?

The STREAM database can be used by researchers to carry out comparative quantitative research in a sustainable and highly efficient way. Researchers can link their own data to STREAM’s primary files to perform comparisons. Those who wish to use the STREAM data infrastructure can contact the staff at the Quetelet Center (

You can follow the status of the project at

Publications based on STREAM

  • Deschacht, Nick and Anne Winter, “Micro-Mobility in Flux. Municipal Migration Levels in the Provinces of Flanders and Antwerp, 1796–1846”, Journal of Migration History 5, no. 1 (2019): 1-30.
  • Devos, Isabelle. Geographies of population, health and wealth in early modern Flanders. Results from the Stream project. Third conference European Society of Historical Demography Conference, 1-25. Pecs, 2019.
  • Schepers, Marjolein. “Membership revisited: negotiating migration regulation and access to welfare in eighteenth-century Flanders”. PhD diss., Vrije Universiteit Brussel – Universiteit Gent, 2019.
  • Devos, Isabelle, Thijs Lambrecht and Anne Winter. “Welfare and demography in the time of Malthus. Regional and local variations in poor relief and population developments in Flanders, c. 1750-1810”. Study Week Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “F. Datini”, 1-25. Prato, 2019.
  • Van den Broeck, Nick, Thijs Lambrecht, and Anne Winter. “Pre-Industrial Welfare between Regional Economies and Local Regimes: Rural Poor Relief in Flanders around 1800.” Continuity and Change 33, no. 2 (2018): 255–84.
  • Vervaeke, Ans, en Isabelle Devos. “Much ado about nothing? Reconsidering the smallpox effect. Height in the nineteenth-century town of Thielt, Belgium”. TSEG/ Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History 14, no. 4 (2018): 56-83.
  • Devos, Isabelle, Sofie De Veirman, Torsten Wiedemann, Ruben Demey, Sven Vrielinck, Thijs Lambrecht, Philippe De Maeyer, Elien Ranson, Michiel Van den Berghe, Glenn Plettinck and Anne Winter. (2018), “STREAM. A spatio-temporal research infrastructure for early modern Flanders and Brabant: sources, data and methods”, International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 12, no. 2 (2018): 102-119.
  • Vervaeke, Ans. “Met recht en rede(n). Toegang en gebruik van burgerlijke rechtbanken in het Brugse Vrije (1670-1795)”. PhD diss., Vrije Universiteit Brussel-Ghent University, 2018.
  • Mechant, Maja. “Hoeren, pauwen ende ondeughende doghters. De levenslopen van vrouwen in de Brugse prostitutie (1750-1790).” PhD diss., Ghent University, 2018.
  • De Maeyer, Philippe, Elien Ranson, Kristien Ooms, Karen De Coene, Bart De Wit, Michiel Van den Berghe, Sven Vrielinck, Torsten Wiedemann, Anne Winter, Rink Kurk, and Isabelle Devos. “User-Centered Design of a Collaborative, Object Oriented Historical GI-Platform”. In Dissemination of Cartographic Knowledge : 6th International Symposium of the ICA Commission on the History of Cartography, 2016, 379–90. Springer, 2018.
  • Lambrecht, Thijs, and Anne Winter. “De vele gezichten van zorg : armoede en armenzorg op het platteland in het graafschap Vlaanderen tijdens de achttiende eeuw”. Tijd-Schrift: Heemkunde en Lokaal-erfgoedpraktijk in Vlaanderen 7, no. 1 (2017): 44–57.
  • Devos, Isabelle, and Tina Van Rossem. “Oud, ouder, oudst : regionale en lokale verschillen in sterfte in het graafschap Vlaanderen tijdens de zeventiende en achttiende eeuw”. De zeventiende eeuw, 2017, 39–53.
  • Lambrecht, Thijs. “The institution of service in rural Flanders in the sixteenth century: a regional perspective”. In Servants in Rural Europe, 1400-1900, edited by Jane Whittle. People, Markets, Goods: Economies and Societies in History 11. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2017.
  • Ranson, Elien, Kristien Ooms, Philippe De Maeyer, Karen De Coene, Bart De Wit, Michiel Van den Berghe, Erik Thoen, Sven Vrielink, Torsten Wiedemann, Rink Kruk, Thijs Lambrecht, Anne Winter and Isabelle Devos. “STREAM : een tijdruimtelijke onderzoeksinfrastructuur voor vroegmodern Vlaanderen en Brabant : de vectorisatie van de kabinetskaart van Ferraris”. In Cartografie : visie op kaart, edited by Marc Hameleers, Marc Carnier, Patricia Alkhoven and Rink Kruk, 15: 279–85. Arnhem: Stichting Archiefpublicaties, 2016. 
  • Van Pelt, Jan. “Isabelle Devos”. In Naar een nieuw FWO, 14–19. FWO Jaarboek 2015. Brussel: waarnemend secretariaat-generaal FWO, 2016.