Individual Belgian Schools

Figure 1.--This was a first year class of a private Catholic secondary school in Antwerp. A HBC reader attended during the 1960s. The boys are ages 12-13 years. Put your cursor on the image to see the rest of the class.  

We do not yet have much information on individual Belgian schools. This is an important element in our national school sections. School portraits over time provide a huge amount of information about education and school uniform trends. We hope to expand this section as our site grows. We do note the Institut Saint-Boniface-Parnasse is a school in Ixelles. We do not know a great deal about the school, but know that it was founded in the 19th century. A reader has provided us some information about his Antwerp Catholic school in the early-1960s. Our reader tells us, "Uniforms were not mandatory at our school, but it was rather an elite school, jeans were strongly discouraged. Many of us wore suits. Boys wearing short trousers were not the majority, but were not uncommon." Hopefully other Belgian readers will provide us some information about their school and school experiences. While we focus on school wear and uniforms, we are also colledctging other information aboput schools around the world.

Institut Saint-Boniface-Parnasse (1882)

We have very little information on the Institut Saint-Boniface-Parnasse. We know that it was located in Ixelles, Belgium. We know that it was founded in the 19th century and is still in operation. It is obviously a private school which I think is suggested by the term Institut. It was also obiously also a Catholic school. It appears to have had both primary and secondary levels. We also note that it had a Scout troop. The classes were taught in French, I'm not sure to what extent in accomodated Flemish students. Presumably the school policy here has varied over time. Hopefully Belgian readers can tell us more. We note an interesting school website. A Dutch reader tells us, "I am sure that this particular Belgian school accepted Flemish pupils AS LONG AS THEY SPOKE FRENCH. I clicked on one of their celebrations that caught my eye: Fête des Langues (festival of languages), hoping it would honor Dutch as well, being an official language in Belgium. No such luck, though, the school apparently persists in having French as its language of instruction, and I am not even certain that Dutch is being taught at all. The institution is located in one of the suburbs of Brussels where French dominates."

Colony at Campeaux (about 1915)

This photo postcard shows waht isidentified as a class at a school in the shed of the Colony at Campeaux, Belgium. We can see a map of Belgium. The secene is a back shot of the class. The children seem to be girls wearing smocks. They are being taught by a nun. We are ot sure if it was a girl's school or if the boys and girls were separated in different classes. You cn see another class through the doorway.We are not sure why the term 'shed' is used. It suggests temporary facilities. We were confusedby the location. A Google serch indicated tht Campeaux was located in Normandy, France. We have not found a Campaux in Belgium. We are also not sure wht is mean by 'Colony'. The French lnguage text is 'Les Enfants en classe dans la baraquement de la Colonie at Campeaux." The photograph was endorsed by the Belgian Ministry of the Interior (Ministere de L'Interieur). We have never seengoverment involvement in school photography before wither in Belgium or or other country. This card is also labeled Colonies Scolar?tes des Enfantes L'Yser. L'Yser was a World War I battle. The front of the card is labeled Cliche Ghislain Frères. We believe this may be a relgious order which set up schools and missions in France for the refugees. This could explain the use of colony, shed, and the involvement of the Belgin Givernment. We notice similar photographs taken in other French locations. We suspect that the children may be Belgian World war I refugees being cared for in France by a Belgian religious order. The studio was Ghislain Freres Photo.

Overijshe Seminary (1919-20)

Here we see the young novitiate at Overijse (1919-20). Notice how young the boys are who have decided to become priests. Overijse is a municipality in the province of Flemish Brabant, We do not know the name of the seminary, but it would have been Catholic. Notice the two African boys, presumably from the Congo. We are not sure why they are dressed differently than the Belgian boys. They are a little olde. There was no uniform at the school except for their caps. The school clearly set very clear dress quidelines. The boys all wear suits, detacable collars, knee pants, and long sockings, except for the African boys. The portrait was taken in 1919 or 20, just after World war I and the deprture of the Germans.

Saint-Jean-de-Passy (1920s)

Saint-Jean-de-Passy is a higly respected private catholic boarding school originally founded by the Frères de Passy in Paris (1839). The Third French Republic that was established diring the Franco-Prussian War (1870) initiated many redorms. One of the policies pursued was to reduce the role of the Catholic Church in France, especially its role in religion. The seculars reforms if the Republic forced the Frères de Passy to leave France (1905). They relocated in Froyennes, Belgium. The hope was always that they could return to Paris. While located in Belgium, many of the same French childtren continued to attend the school. And French parents as well as Belgian parents with a strong Catholic orientation continued to chosse the school for their children. Back in Paris, patents in the Parisian neighborhood of Passy, started using the abandoned buildings of the old boarding school to reconstitute a school without the religious attributes to satisfy the government's regulaytions. The school joined the regional diocese and renamed itself Saint Jean de Passy (1933).

Private Antwerp Catholic Secondary School (Early-1960s)

A reader has provided us some information about his Antwerp Catholic school in the early-1960s. We do not have any historical information on the school. Most Belgians are Catholic, both Waloons and Flemish. Our reader tells us, "Uniforms were not mandatory at our school, but it was rather an elite school, jeans were strongly discouraged. Many of us wore suits. Boys wearing short trousers were not the majority, but were not uncommon." It was an all-boy single-gebder scghool. The boys began at age 12 years. Some Castholic schools in France and Belgium had a basic uniform. This sdchool did not, but the boys were expected to dress appropriately. Quite a few boys wore suits and ties, even the younger boys. Others wore sweaters and ties. Short pants including short pants suits seem quite common in the first year and several boys also wear short pants the second year. This was not a school requirement, but rather up to the boys and their parennts. Knee socks seem to be worn on a seasonal basis.

Unidentified Brussels School (1967)

Here we have alass portrait from an unidentified school near Brussels. The school was located in Zellik, a village becoming a northwest of Belgium. There are 19 boys in the class who are pictured with their youthful teacher. We wonder if the small size does not suggest a private school. Over half the boys wearsuits and ties which we suspect also suggesta a private school, although suits were clearly not required. The boys look to b about 13-14 years of age which would mean a younger grade in a secondary school. A vine-covered brick school can be seen in the bckground. The boys wear both long and short pants, but knee socks do not seem common. This may be seaonal. The boys wearing short pants are not dressed casually, as they are mostly wearing suits and ties. The boys are in the 1966-67 school year, but asit seems like the summer term, we suspect the potrait was taken in 1967. The studio was Mertens.


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Created: 5:12 AM 11/24/2010
Last updated: 12:15 AM 1/3/2016