Our collections and research infrastructure are available to all researchers. We encourage pupils, students, professionals and citizen scientists to come and find information in our archives.
We’re happy to assist researchers with advice on literature and sources regarding their chosen subject. We’re ready to advise you on how to approach your research. You will receive a more elaborate answer if you contact us beforehand and plan your visit in advance. On your first visit you can discuss your research with an archivist. The archivist will translate your research question into a search strategy for the right sources. Bear in mind that you will need to do the actual research yourself.
In order to help you with your research, CAVA has designed a number of tools that you can find on this site. Our online catalogue allows you to search our archives and collections, including the reference library and heritage objects, with a single search query. Our online bibliography and scientific reference library provide you with background information on the history of secular humanist ideology and the secular humanist movement, and on themes such as abortion, euthanasia, equal rights, sexuality and the relation between church and state. You will also find publications that connect with the research field of secularism and non-religion. The research guide Op zoek... (a Dutch-language publication on the evolution of secular humanism in Flanders since the Second World War) provides many thematic research suggestions.
The "erfgoedfiches" (only available in Dutch) provide information about specific secular humanist organisations and individuals, complete with details about the size of their archives. The secular heritage map (also in Dutch) provides an overview of where the archives of secular humanist associations and individuals are kept.
Many sources, especially magazines, photographs and posters, have been digitised. You can consult these in digital form directly in the online catalogue. If no digital file is available, we welcome you in the reading room. We regularly publish (historical) articles on secular humanism in Flanders and Brussels and on other secular humanist subjects. You will also find a big part of the literature in the university's central library.
For students, assistants and professors who are looking for research suggestions, CAVA has made lists of research lines and topics. We can guarantee that enough sources are available to research these topics in our own collections or in those of other archival institutions. By choosing one of these themes, you contribute to the knowledge of the history of secularism and free thought. If you choose one of these subjects, we’re happy to guide you in your work, without getting in the way of your supervisor. Prof. Dr. Frank Scheelings can also act as dissertation advisor for some themes. You can find more information about the various lines of research on the Dutch page.
We also love to collaborate on projects with other professors and departments. For departments dealing with historical subjects, an archivist can stop by to explain the topics at the beginning of the academic year. If you would like to set up a research line or project in which the CAVA archives can play a role, we’re more than happy to support you in this. The list of subjects or the archives overview may serve as an inspiration. Please contact us in advance, so that we can help your students (and assistants) adequately. CAVA has academic staff with historical, archival and/or heritage expertise on hand.
Since both (organised) secular humanism and the university are concerned with social issues, records dealing with ecological history, the fight against fascism, the history of official education, peace issues, etc. can be found in our collections. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.