More than 600 volunteers at work!


Used database:



26 February 2021


Citizen science project

More than 600 volunteers at work!

At the end of October 2020, the Quetelet Center launched the citizen science project S.O.S. Antwerp (Social Inequalities at Death (1820-1946). What did the people of Antwerp die of?). In this project, the data of the unique handwritten cause-of-death register of the city of Antwerp are entered into a digital database by volunteers working at home. 

In that register, the cause of death of each person deceased between 1820 and 1946 is mentioned, together with the date of death, age, profession, marital status and all kinds of other personal information. It contains the data of almost 500,000 people! 

By the end of February 2021, after four months, no less than 600 volunteers from Belgium and the Netherlands are involved in the project and more than half of the data has been entered twice. As such, this has become the largest historical academic crowdsourcing project in Belgium!

With S.O.S. Antwerp, the Quetelet Center will study causes of death and epidemics in the past two centuries: the differences between men and women, young and old, rich and poor, etc. The research will not only provide a good picture of public health in the past but will also have important implications for our understanding of health developments today. How did epidemics such as the Spanish Flu, the smallpox outbreak of 1870-71 and that of cholera in 1866 spread among the various population groups? When did the registration of cancers and cardiovascular diseases first start to increase, and in which groups? 

Are you looking for an instructive activity that you can do indoors? Register at and find out who the victims of epidemics were!