Danish Research: Getting Started
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Begin with family and home sources. Look for names, dates, and places on certificates (attester in Danish), family Bibles, obituaries, diaries, and similar sources. Ask your relatives for any additional information they may have. It's likely that your second cousin, great-aunt, or other relative already has some family information. Organize the information you find, and record it on pedigree charts and family group records.
Starting in 1645, all pastors in Denmark have been obliged by law to keep Parish Registers. Most of these have survived from around the 1750s. Some are older and date back to the 1670s or even earlier. Other parishes have been less fortunate and fires, mice, insects etc., destroyed all church records prior to 1814.
Parish Registers from 1812-1814 until now
1812-1814 are important years for Danish genealogists. That is when Danish pastors were instructed to keep two separate copies of Parish Registers - and never to keep them in the same location overnight. For this reason, nearly all parishes have records from those dates onwards!
These Parish Registers are also more "user friendly". After 1812-1814 the Registers were, for the first time, kept in ledgers designed especially for that purpose. These 'newer' Registers contain columns with printed headings, which facilitate searching for particular information without the need to read through the entire volume.
Parish Registers before 1812-1814
Before 1812-1814 most pastors recorded information in some kind of notebook that they had purchased themselves. Normally these older registers were kept chronologically, making the search difficult for people who do not have good knowledge of Danish, and, at the very least, some basic understanding of how to decipher the obsolete style of handwriting that was commonly used in Denmark prior to 1875.
What information do Parish Registers hold?
The Parish Register will provide information regarding anyone who was born/baptised, confirmed (after 1737), married or died/buried in that particular parish. Only information relating to the particular religious ceremony in question will be recorded there. For example, for a baptism, you will find the date of birth, date of baptism, name of the child, names, occupation and residence of the parents, and names of sponsors and the godmother. But the entry will not tell you who the child later married, or where she/he died. That information must be found where the events took place.
After 1812-14 the registers were kept in forms. Older records may have a more "individual" character. Usually, a parish register can provide you with this information:
- What's the next step?
- Finding Your Ancestor in the Records
- Tips for Beginners
- Tips for Danish-American Researchers