Danish Research: Getting Started

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Denmark Gotoarrow.pngGetting Started

How Do I Get Started?

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.

What's the Next Step?

Select a specific relative or ancestor born in Denmark for whom you know at least a name, the village or parish where he or she lived in Denmark, and an approximate date when he or she lived there. It is also very helpful to know the names of other family members born in Denmark. 

As you look over your Family Group Records, or Pedigree Charts, ask yourself “What do I want to find next?” Common goals might be: 

  • The last person on a specific line of your Pedigree Chart. 
  • A missing parent on the Family Group Sheet 
  • A gap between the birth years of the children on a Family Group Record (a wide enough gap that there may be missing children in between siblings). 
  • Finding the last children to the parents (during the Mothers’ child bearing years). 
  • To find the birth date and place for an individual listed on the Family Group Record without one. 
  • Locating the marriage date and place for the parents on a Family Group Record.

For suggestions on finding an immigrant ancestor's birthplace, see the "Emigration and Immigration" section through the Denmark: Portal of the FamilySearch Wiki. 

Next, decide what you want to learn about your ancestor, such as where and when he was married, or the names of his parents. You may want to ask an experienced researcher to help you select a goal that you can achieve.

Parish Registers
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 Next?

Join a Community of Danish researchers! Ask questions, help others, and share your research successes on Facebook and/or Skype. NEW!\

   How to Find Information for Danish Ancestors

1. Getting Started
2. Birth Information
3. Marriage Information
4. Death Information
5. Place of Origin in Denmark
6. Moving within Denmark

7. Emigration information
8. Immigration information
9. Using witnesses to find the next generation
10. Families in Sønderjylland (Southern Denmark)
11. City People and Research
12. Miscellanious