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New on the list ? Subscribe first before posting.
Mission Statement
About Mail Lists All lists have two addresses
List modes affect how you receive posts
Digest mode Mail mode
How to subscribe How to unsubscribe
How to change from Mail mode to Digest mode How to change from Digest mode to Mail mode
Your e-mail address
Family History/Belgian Culture Learning to fish Typical messages
Delicate topics
Off limits
Politics Privacy Argumentative or critical messages If you don't like a message If you are upset Cyber space gossip
Posting a message
Composing a new message
Frequency of queries The address The Subject Line  The Body The signature file
Composing a query
Replying to an earlier post Replying to a post in a digest
No HTML, no RTF, no attachments
Personal messages
Finding old messages
Problem shooting
The list owner and manager
A Tribute

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A cordial WELCOME to the BELGIUM-ROOTS-L Mail List!

This Mail List is part of the BELGIUM-ROOTS Project.

The BELGIUM-ROOTS-L Mail List is a discussion forum for anyone who has a genuine interest in the genealogy and history of the emigrants/immigrants from Belgium and their families.

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Mission Statement

BELGIUM-ROOTS-L has been created with the sole purpose of assisting the descendants of Belgian emigrants/immigrants living abroad to trace their roots in Belgium, and at the same time explore their Belgian heritage.

Participation is free of any charge. There are no direct or indirect obligations, financially or otherwise, save for the total and unconditional respect for the personality and the opinion of all participants.

Today the BELGIUM-ROOTS Project consists of three media:

- the BELGIUM-ROOTS-L Mail List
- the web site

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Persons who would be most likely to benefit from participation:

- all descendants of Belgian emigrants/immigrants
- all Belgian nationals able to help the former
- everyone else who shows a genuine interest

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This message is long. Don't be intimidated by that. If you will print it out and study it, it will be very helpful to you. If you glance through it and then delete it, you may have problems in the future. Let's make the list a pleasant experience for everyone: save and read these instructions.

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About Mail Lists

Mail Lists are remarkably simple beasties: you send a piece of e-mail to the list's address, and the list transmits that message to everyone who is subscribed.

The concept of a Mail List is that any subscriber can submit his queries or comments to all other subscribers by sending a single message to the address of the Mail List (see below). The list server computer takes care of the distribution.

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All lists have two addresses

Every Mail List really has two distinct addresses:

  1. the list name, where posts should be sent, and
  2. the list name followed by -request, where commands to the list server software should be sent.

For example, posts to BELGIUM-ROOTS-L should go to while "subscribe" and "unsubscribe" requests should go to, or to (the distinction between -L- and -D- is explained elsewhere in this text.)

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List modes affect how you receive posts

Mail mode and/or
Digest mode

IMPORTANT: this is only about the addresses where you should send your "subscribe" and "unsubscribe" instructions.

There is only one Mail List called BELGIUM-ROOTS-L, but the computer keeps two different lists with addresses.

The one is called


and the other one is called


Notice the -L or the -D at the end

If you send your 'subscribe' instruction to , the computer will put you on its -L address list and you will receive each posting in a separate message, which means that you will be receiving some 50 to 60 messages a day. If you like to receive many letters, or if you like to respond swiftly to the queries of others, this is the format you need.

If you send your 'subscribe' instruction to , the computer will put you on its -D address list and you will be receiving only two messages a day, in which all the different postings are pasted together. So, you will still be able to read all of them, but more in a "magazine" format, than as individual letters. If you don't like to receive many messages, it is better to be on the computer's address list with the -D.

This is much a matter of personal taste.

The advantage of individual messages is that you just have to push the "reply" button if you wish to reply, and don't have to bother too much about deleting superfluous text.

When replying to a Digest message, you can still use the "reply", but you will have to cut out all the other messages and just leave the one you are replying to.

If this sounds too complicated, tell me. I am there for you. I will not be able to change the system, but I can try to guide you.

IMPORTANT: if you wish to send a message to the list, so that all subscribers will be able to read it, there is only one address, irrespective of the mail mode you subscribed to:

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How to subscribe

It's easy.

  1. Make a new message in your preferred e-mail program.
  2. Turn off the signature file
  3. Put in the "To" field:
    - if you prefer the DIGEST mode:
    - if you prefer the MAIL mode:
  4. Put nothing in the "Subject" field, unless your e-mail program requires something, in which case you can type the word subscribe in it
  5. Put in the body of the message the single word
  6. Verify the spelling of the word
  7. Send the message

That's all.

No additional text! No signature file!

If your e-mail address goes bad or your mailbox fills up, you'll be automatically unsubscribed by the Mail List software after a certain number of messages in a row bounces back to RootsWeb.

If you have problems with these instructions, send me a message to and I'll have you subscribed.

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How to change from Mail mode to Digest mode

1. Subscribe to DIGEST mode following the instructions above. subscribe

2. Unsubscribe from MAIL mode following the instructions below. unsubscribe

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How to change from Digest mode to Mail mode

1. Subscribe to MAIL mode following the instructions above. subscribe

2. Unsubscribe from DIGEST mode following the instructions below. unsubscribe

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How to unsubscribe

You shouldn't, but just in case:

  1. Make a new message in your preferred e-mail program.
  2. Turn off the signature file
  3. Put in the "To" field:
    - if you are in DIGEST mode:>
    - if you are in MAIL mode:
  4. Put nothing in the "Subject" field, unless your e-mail program requires something, in which case you can type the word unsubscribe in it
  5. Put in the body of the message the single word
  6. Verify the spelling of the word
  7. Send the message

It really is made all too easy!

No additional text! No signature file!

If your e-mail address goes bad or your mailbox fills up, you'll be automatically unsubscribed by the Mail List software after a certain number of messages in a row bounces back to RootsWeb.

If you have problems with these instructions, send me a message to and I'll have you unsubscribed.

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Your e-mail address

Make sure that the "Reply To" address is absolutely correct in your e-mail software program's "Settings" or "Preferences" menu. If not, the subscription will not work correctly.

The "Reply To" address must be exactly the same as the e-mail address under which you subscribed in order to ensure return e-mail and successful Mail List commands.

To verify if your e-mail program is correctly configured, I suggest that you send an e-mail to yourself to that same address. If it arrives, everything will be just fine.

If you intend to change your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and/or e-mail address, or your ISP changed your address (possibly by adding something to it like ".mail", or ".pop"), please let me know at The list server will _not_ automatically recognize your new address.

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Family History/Belgian Culture

Although this list is basically about genealogy, or family history, any subject related to Belgian history and culture that is of interest to the Belgian descendants abroad, may be discussed here, except for some typically Belgian political issues related to the relationship between the various (linguistic) communities in Belgium, for which a separate Mail List BELGIUM-COMMUNITIES-L has been created.

Learning to fish

The main purpose of this forum is that the participants learn each other "how to fish", i.e., that sources, methods, systems, and general ideas are shared. No participant can expect that he or she will get his daily fish from the other participants. In other words: you should learn how to do research yourself, not expect from others that they will do it for you. However, sharing what you have is always a most rewarding experience.

Typical messages

Typical messages contain

queries and answers
centered on Belgian emigrants/immigrants
and their immediate families,


Because all of us will learn more from the replies than from the queries, I am in favour of also posting the replies rather than having them sent privately. Yet, the "chatting" which occasionally evolves from this, may create useless noise on the list. I generally leave it up to the participants to judge at which point a topic is taken off the list, but I may intervene at a certain stage.

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Delicate topics

Topics related to religion, politics, race, and specifically for Belgium, language, should be handled with the utmost discretion so as not to harm the feelings of anyone.

No commercial postings are acceptable. However, if a participant knows of any new or used genealogical publications (e.g., books, newsletters, CDs, magazines), he may announce that to the list. Purchases are arranged in private posting between the buyer and the seller rather than on the list. This is especially valuable if you are cleaning your own bookshelves!

Caveat: I am very wary of anything commercial, and will intervene energetically if anything is posted that, in my opinion, exceeds these boundaries.

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Off limits


Typically Belgian political issues related to the relationship of the various (linguistic) communities in Belgium, for which a separate Mail List BELGIUM-COMMUNITIES-L has been created.


Any information pertaining to living people is in principle not allowed, except if it is posted by the individual himself.

Argumentative or critical messages

No rude comments or flaming is allowed, no abuse, no personal attacks, no argumentative or critical messages, no vulgarity.

Since this list is not moderated, any message sent to it is automatically conveyed to everyone who subscribed. While I in no way want to stifle discussion, as list owner I have the responsibility to step in if a flame war erupts, if some thread (a series of messages on the same subject) becomes tedious for other subscribers, or if someone becomes unseemly.

No discussion of flaming in this list. For definitions of flaming and related information see

No chain letters, for which see

Do not impose upon this list any other rules or conditions, expressed or implied elsewhere. Rules of other forums may not necessarily apply here. Do not try to regulate this list.

If you do not like the way someone formats their queries or responses, or the content of their subject titles, take it up with the list owner at, NOT in the list.

If you don't like a message

If you don't like a message, delete it. Don't send a cutting or snide remark back to the list, or to any other subscriber. Assume that the rest of us don't want to read it, and that it just adds to the clutter of useless messages. If you feel there is a serious problem caused by someone, send me a message at

If you are upset
  • Remember that we were ALL new at one point.
  • Do not jump to conclusions about the intent of the person who has made a mistake.
  • Assume that everybody is innocent until proven "guilty".
  • Read the messages (and other people's responses to them) carefully - twice - before responding.
  • Write your response, then set it aside for a bit before sending it. A bit of time may help to change the perspective.
  • Be sure you are conveying your true meaning and that you are communicating positively. Remember how hard it can be to convey emotion in writing.
  • Keep your tone light and friendly, especially when you are frustrated and/or trying to resolve a problem.
  • Show patience.
  • Remain friendly.
Cyber space gossip

Do not post virus warnings, test messages, chain letters, political announcements, current events, items for sale, personal messages, etc.

For information on virus hoaxes and urban legends see among others.

Before you hit the FORWARD or SEND button to let others know about the "hottest tip" on the Internet, visit these URLs:

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Posting a message

If you'd like to post a message so everyone on the Mail List receives your query or reply, just send it to

It will then be sent on to everyone in both mail and digest mode.

Don't be confused by the fact that the official name of our list is BELGIUM-ROOTS-L, with the same L as the MAIL mode. Whether you are in DIGEST mode, or in MAIL mode, you always have to send your posting to the list to

The language generally used will be English, but I do not wish to exclude any other language: Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Afrikaans, ...although this will make communication with a larger public rather difficult.

Don't send messages exceeding 8000 bytes. They will be rejected by the list server.

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Composing a new message

Frequency of queries

Post your query regularly, perhaps once a month, if you have not yet received a satisfying reply. Somebody may not have noticed your query the previous time, or has in the meantime come across that piece of information you badly need, or a new subscriber has joined and may have the info you need.

Try a more attractive subject line (see below), or rephrase your question.

The address

Send your messages to

You don't have to mail a copy to me, since I am subscribed to the list and will be receiving your message.

The Subject Line

Many readers will only look at the subject line to decide if the message is of interest to them. Therefore the construction of a good Subject line is worthy of your attention. If you are writing about people, do include their family name (surname), possibly a place of origin, and the place of settlement, and a time frame. E.g.:

Subject:DEFNET, Belgium > Wisconsin, 1850s

Subject:DEFNET, Grez-Doiceau, Belgium > Door Co., WI, 1850s

One reader may be interested in the family name (surname), another in Grez-Doiceau, and yet a third one in Door County. The time frame generally is important for all three of them.

Notice that family names (surnames) are always written in UPPERCASE.

If your topic is a place name, put it in the Subject line, along with a specification of what you'd like to know about that place. E.g.

Subject:Verrebroek, Belgium, church records 1500s

Subject:Belgian Club, Superior, WI, 1900s

The Body

Accuracy is important and sources are vital. Ancestor lists are worthless if the information is wrong. All information need not be accompanied by source citations, but I do recommend strongly that posts either include sources or a note stating that they are available on request.

If information is speculation then label it as such until it is proven or commonly accepted as fact.

When posting your query try to give as much information as you know, i.e., full names, dates and places of all vital events if known, along with enough other family members so that the reader can positively identify if they are researching the same family. "Anyone out there researching John DOE?" just don't cut it.

Full names: Vitalis Merckx
called Dallas Marckx in the USA
Events, Dates, Places:born 1867 Belgium, probably Beveren
emigrated:date unknown
naturalized 1897, St. Joseph County, MN
diedEnumclaw, WA, 27 mar 1925
Facts:worked at Republic Mine, Republic, MI
became a farmer in Washington

It is obvious that you will not know everything, otherwise you would probably not be asking questions, but as soon as you will give what you have, people will feel more comfortable to share with you.

The signature file

Some people, like me, have problems talking to numbers, such as Mr. Or is that Mrs. Miss? Why not include your full name and the state or possibly the address where you are residing?

Limit your signature block to maximum five lines. Anything in excess of that is ballast to the system, and annoys the reader.

My signature contains my full address, telephone number, e-mail address, and URL, and has "only" four lines:

 Georges PICAVET | Listowner BELGIUM-ROOTS-L
   Doorn 9 | Phone & Fax 32-3-774.10.11
   BEL-9150 Kruibeke |
   Belgium (Europe)|

It is strongly suggested _not_ to include a full list of all the names you are researching. This will irritate people, especially when they are searching the archives (see: finding old messages)

Please try to limit them to say, half a dozen names. Any more than that and many people just won't read them anyway. Try keeping several small lists and rotate them with each succeeding message.

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Composing a query

I have a substantial library with information on emigrants/immigrants, but because of the huge amount of queries that I am receiving, it is difficult for me to reply to individual messages. This does not mean that I will no longer do lookups for you in my library, but I try to share the burden with other researchers through BELGIUM-ROOTS-L.

As a matter of principle

- I will only look at queries sent to BELGIUM-ROOTS, not to my private address
- all replies will be posted on BELGIUM-ROOTS.

I really want to help, but some names are quite common here and I don't have the time to transcribe every entry in the books in my possession. I will only transcribe what I find if I am confident that the information pertains to the family you are looking for.

Before I start looking, I will need more information than just a surname:

- first names
- names of relatives
- (approximate) dates of birth/emigr/immigr/death
- places of origin and/or settlement
- anything else that can help to identify people

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Replying to an earlier post

Please send replies to the list, not just to the original poster. Other participants may benefit from the data that you provide.

Try to keep quoting to a minimum. "Quoting" is repeating text of the message you are replying to. Some quoting is necessary to remind other readers what the thread is about but do try to use good judgement.

Quoting the previous writer's signature block or surname list is totally unnecessary.

When replying to the list try to quote some portions of the previous message so that other readers are reminded what the "thread" is about. Make it clear what is quoted material and what you are adding. Most e-mail programs take care of this for you by inserting greater-than signs ">" at the beginning of each quoted line or possibly double brackets "<<" before and ">>" after the quoted piece.

Use standard Macintosh or Windows procedures to "cut" unnecessary material. Leave just enough of the other message that the reader will still know what it is all about. Full headers should always be weeded out. My favorite "insertion" is [snip] at the place where I cut out some text from a previous message.

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Replying to a post in a digest

If you are replying to a message contained in a Digest, please make sure that

  1. not the entire digest is repeated, but just (part of) the message you are referring to (see: replying to an earlier post)
  2. you have changed the subject line (NEVER leave: Re: BELGIUM-ROOTS-D Digest V98 #__)

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No HTML, no RTF, no attachments

RootsWeb accepts only plain text mail. That means that HTML mail, attachments, ``enriched text'', RTF, and a few other formats can't be sent to RootsWeb Mail Lists.

Also be careful not to include "v-cards", created by Outlook Express, and "address book cards",created by Netscape.

You can post your message if you send it in plain text; turn off the ``Post in HTML'' or ``Enriched Text'' features of your mail reader, or don't use any attachments. See for instructions on turning off HTML in most of the popular mail programs, or ask your ISP's technical support line for help.

RootsWeb had to institute this policy because of the problems that accompany these fancy mail formats.

Some people don't have mail programs that are capable of processing the special file formats. Even among those who do, different mail programs handle these special formats in very different and confusing ways.

HTML messages pose special problems to our digested Mail Lists. Most of all, HTML-ified mail and attachments place a considerable burden on RootsWeb's overworked machines.

All in all, mail in this format produces a lot of problems for RootsWeb's servers and subscribers, so they find it's best just to use plain text.

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Personal messages

If you have a personal message for someone, please send it to their address, not the list address. Any mail sent to BELGIUM-ROOTS will automatically be relayed to everyone on the list.

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Finding old messages

1. Search the archives
Old messages are archived by RootsWeb and can be consulted using the search engine at

Name of list: BELGIUM-ROOTS

2. Obtain a copy of a digest
If you would like to receive an old Digest from the archives, you can send
a message to

with in the subject:

and in the body:
get volume98/xxx

Where 98 is the current year, and xxx is the actual number of the digest you would like to get.

Be careful: write everything as it is stated above. NO SIGNATURE FILE!

If you are using Eudora, the message should look more or less like this, if you were interested in getting Digest 255:


From: <your e-mail address >
 Subject: archive
get volume98/255

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Any person sending a message to this list retains the copyright to it. By sending the message, you grant to the list custodian, and to his heirs and assigns forever, permission to distribute copies of the message to other list members, to store archival copies of the message, and to make the archival copies available to the Internet community at large. You also grant to other list members the right to quote your message in part or in total as a part of their replies sent back to the list.

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Trouble shooting

The most common problems are related to subscribing and unsubscribing. Check the address to which your subscribe or unsubscribe command was sent (see above), and check again the spelling of the word "subscribe", or "unsubscribe". The most common typing errors are: suscribe, susribe, etc., but after a few weeks managing this list, I have seen every variation imaginable.

Another recurring problem is that of the use of HTML, RTF, or attachments (see above).

If the problem persists, send me a message, but be specific. I can't help if you just say, "I'm having a problem, help me." Tell me what it is, tell me what you did or tried to do, or what you try to achieve. If you received some kind of error message from the list server, I'll probably have received a copy.

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The list owner and manager

The list owner is responsible for keeping the list running as smoothly as possible and has the authority to set some of the guidelines for its operation. The main chores involved are related to subscribing and unsubscribing, bounced messages, and giving input where required.

If you really want to know more about me, you can visit my web site at

My address is:

Mail: J.A.G. Picavet
Doorn 9
BE - 9150 Kruibeke

Phone:Local:(03) 774 10 11or (03) 744 10 07
International: +32 3 774 10 11 or +32 3 744 10 07

Fax:Local:(03) 774 10 11
International: +32 3 774 10 11



You can communicate with me in Dutch, French, English, and German. I will understand your messages in Spanish and Portuguese, but will not be able to reply in writing in these languages.

Since I am a staunch defender of the idea that family research must remain free, not commercial, and definitely not monopolized by the larger corporations, I am supporting The RootsWeb Genealogical Data Cooperative, to which organization I have donated a certain amount of money, which in turn allows me to keep this Mail List free of charge. If you would feel like supporting RootsWeb on a personal basis, visit explaining about the funding of RootsWeb.

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A Tribute

RootsWeb, the host of our Mail List, and of many others, was founded in 1996 by Dr. Brian Leverich and Karen Isaacson.

Due to their foresight, expertise and financial contributions, we're all here enjoying one or many of the Mail Lists and web offerings which reside at RootsWeb.

We are fortunate, indeed, to have at our disposal all these resources dedicated to genealogy. To find out more about what else is available, explore the RootsWeb site at

Your support added to that of many others can help sustain and nourish this wonderful resource.

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Search Help

Help with this topic can be obtained from the Support Team Member Georges Picavet
The information on this page was submitted until 09 June 2003 by Georges Picavet, , , ,
Proofreading English on this page was been done not yet by Judith Cartisano
If you have technical problems with this site, or this page, click on
This web site is the collective work of the subscribers to the mail list BELGIUM-ROOTS-L founded June 1998 by Georges Picavet (see our members page and the copyrights page for more info)
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