How to become a volunteer ?

The State Archives hold thousands of letters of remission, a pardon that the sovereign granted to perpetrators of crimes in modern times. The applicant’s account provides a fascinating insight into everyday life during the Ancien Régime. These letters of remission also provide valuable and often unique information for studying local or family history.

Until now, access to these sources has been limited. To remedy this, the State Archives launched the PARDONS project in August 2021, in collaboration with the KULeuven, the UCLouvain and the non-profit organisation Histories. The PARDONS project team will digitise and transcribe thousands of remission letters in order to make them available for research via an online database.

In a first phase, the study will focus on the letters of grace from the archives of the Brabant Chamber of Accounts (ca.1480 – ca.1660). This will be followed by the letters of grace from the archives of the Privy Council (ca.1540-ca.1700), which cover the entire Southern Netherlands.

To open up these sources for research, the PARDONS team would like to call for volunteers. Would you like to help us to open up these letters of remission for research? Please register as a volunteer by clicking on the following links !

Transcription, agreements and rules

Welcome to the volunteer team of the PARDONS project! Thank you for your participation and contribution to the opening of an important set of Old Regime sources. Transcribing a document from the past is not an easy task. The attached manuals, written by Dr. Gert Gielis and translated by Vincent Mazy, will allow you to navigate most comfortably through these sources in Dutch and in French. It will introduce you to the different modalities and conventions of transcription, in order to maintain a certain uniformity, and will provide you with a historical overview of the letter of grace as a source and archival context.

Likewise, due to the particularity of the project, certain ad hoc agreements are also established in order to simplify this transcription operation as much as possible.

Dutch handbook

French handbook