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A census is a count and description of the population. Censuses have been taken by the Danish government primarily for population studies and taxation purposes.
Census records can provide personal information about family relationships, age, year of birth, description of property, religion, birthplace, and so forth. Census records are especially valuable because they list a large portion of the population. They can provide information where all or portions of other records are missing. Generally, you will find more complete family information in more recent censuses. Use the information with caution since some information may be incorrect.
The first census in Denmark with genealogical information was taken during the summer of 1787. Unfortunately, this meant that most seamen and seasonal workers were away. The next census was taken in 1801, and then again in 1834. Beginning in 1840, a census was taken every five years until 1860. After 1860, the census was taken every ten years until the end of the century. Beginning in 1901, censuses were again taken every five years.
The most recent Danish census at the Family History Library is for 1911. Census records less than sixty-five years old are confidential and may not be searched by individuals. The most recent census which has been released is the 1916 census. It can be found online at http://www.arkivalieronline.dk/English/default.aspx. The government will make limited searches in the 1920 and 1925 censuses.
Census taking was also conducted in the other provinces and territories under Danish rule: Greenland, the Faroe Islands, the West Indies, Trankebar, India in 1835, and Frederiksnagor (now Serampore), India in 1840.
You will find the following types of information in census records:
1787, 1801, 1834, and 1840. These censuses give the names of all members of the household, their ages, sexes, occupations, relationships to the head of the household and marital statuses.
1845 and later. These censuses list the names, ages, occupations, relationships to the head of the household, religious affiliations, and birthplaces (county and parish) of all members of the household.
Searching Census Records. When searching census records, it is important to remember the following:
- Accept the ages with caution.
- Women are usually listed by their maiden surnames.
- Given names may not always be spelled exactly the same or be as complete as those recorded in vital records.
- Information may be incorrect.
- Spelling for names and places varies.
Search the surrounding area if you do not find a family at the expected address.
When you find your family in one census, be sure to search that same location in the earlier and later census records for additional family members.
Searching in Big Cities
Finding your ancestors' family in the census records of a large city can be time consuming. It is helpful to know the street address. Beginning in 1870, the census is arranged alphabetically by street for the large cities in Denmark. Sometimes you can find the street address in the church records at the time of a birth, marriage, or death in the family. Other sources for street address are business directories; civil certificates of birth, marriage, or death; probate records; or court records.
To find census records in the Family History Library Catalog, look in the Place search under—
DENMARK, [COUNTY] - CENSUS RECORDS
You will find the parishes listed in the order they appear on the microfilm.
DANISH CENSUS HEADINGS WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS
Danish censuses have standardized column headings, which allowed the census taker to record the requested information in the correct place. Click on the following links to bring up the census headings. The Danish wording AND the English translations will appear. By knowing what is asked for in the various census years, you will be able to better plan your research strategy.
Online Census Strategy
Danish Demographic Database
Search the Danish Demographic Database for census transcriptions of all individuals in a household.
Skaaning, Jytte and Bente Klercke Rasmussen. Find Din Slægt - og Gør den Levende: Håndbog i Slægtshistorie, 2d ed. Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2006.