Jan Bols was ordained priest on December 22nd, 1866 in Mechelen. On October 1st, 1866 he was appointed as teacher at the Saint Rombouts college in Mechelen. He established the Saint Joseph college in Aarschot and became its first principal on August 12th, 1876. On December 24th, 1884 he became a parish priest in Mechelen and on June 25th, 1887 he was appointed as parish priest in Alsemberg. He was a member of the Royal Southern Dutch Society for Linguistics, Literature and History (from 1876 onwards), joined the Royal Academy for Dutch Linguistics and Literature in 1886 and the Dutch Literature Society in Leiden in 1912. In 1886 he was involved in the starting of the magazine Het Belfort(The Belfry). Bols was an important figure in the Flemish movement and a prolific writer furthermore . He published a Low German anthology for secondary schools. In addition to that he was a diligent folklorist and a collector of traditional folk songs. His compilation “One hundred old Flemish songs with lyrics and melodies collected and brought to light for the first time” was published in Namur in 1897. The Old Folk Song Commission of the Ministry of public education posthumously published the compilation "Godsdienstige kalenderliederen" (Religious Calendar Songs) (1939) and two anthologies "Wereldlijke volksliederen" (Secular folk songs) (1949).