Knowing an ancestor's occupation can help you distinguish him from other individuals with the same name. In addition, the records associated with his occupation could provide information about his life and family.
Common Danish Occupations
For an alphabetized list of occupations found in the census records, with their English translations, see http://www.folketimidten.dk/gb.htm.
Doctors, lawyers, ministers, and other professionals were educated in Danish schools and universities. Their organizations published biographical lists of members and sometimes histories of their groups.
There are published works for many Danish professions and occupations. Examples are:
- Carøe, Kristian.Den Danske Lægestand 1479-1900 (Danish doctors 1479-1900); København og Kristiania: Gyldendalske Boghandel og Nordisk Forlag, 1904-1922 (FHL book Scand 948.9 D3ca, film 1,440,235.)
- Dolleris, Andreas. Danmarks Boghandlere 1837 to 1892 (Danish booksellers 1837-1892); Odense: Det Milo'ske Bogtrykkeri, 1912 (FHL book Scand 948.9 D3d; film 897,409).
- Skippers and officers
See also the "Biography" section.
Trade Guild Records
In Danish society occupations were a measure of social status. Some trades were viewed as more prestigious than others. Many trades, including butchers, tanners, shoemakers, and tailors, were organized into guilds. The purpose of a guild was to provide training of apprentices and otherwise regulate the practice of the trade in the area. Not all trade persons belonged to guilds, and some could have received their training outside the guild.
Guilds were usually established in each city. The records of these guilds contain lists of members, information on journeymen practicing in the town, marriages of journeymen, and advancements from the rank of apprentice to journeyman and from journeyman to mastercraftsman. In addition, contracts between masters and parents of apprentices may be included.
These records are usually found in the city archives or in the possession of the modern guilds, provincial archives, and museums.
The Family History Library has collected some records of some Danish guilds, especially for the larger cities. They are listed in the catalog under—
DENMARK - OCCUPATIONS
DENMARK- [COUNTY] - OCCUPATIONS
DENMARK - [COUNTY] - [CITY]- OCCUPATIONS
Types of Records
Lavsprotokoller. These include business items, accounts, may not contain much genealogical information.
Ind-og Udskrivningsbøger. These are copies of contractual agreements.
Medlemsprotokoller. These are lists of guild members.
Tidepengebøger. These are payment of guild member dues. These records are helpful in locating members residences.
Many tradesmen, both Danish and foreign-born, often moved around.
Books about guilds and occupations in Denmark may describe your ancestor's life and trade. Although the Family History Library has few books on guilds, those that are available can be very helpful. For a bibliography of the most important printed works on professions, occupations, and so forth, see the following book:
Fabritius, Albert, and Harald Hatt. Handbog i Slægtsforskning (Handbook in Genealogy). København: J. H. Schultz Forlag, 1963. (FHL book 948.9 D27fh, pages 102-131, 209-210, 223-226.)
Books and microfilms about guilds and occupations, as well as the actual guild records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under—
DENMARK - OCCUPATIONS
DENMARK, [COUNTY] - OCCUPATIONS
DENMARK, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - OCCUPATIONS
In Denmark, a person did not become a citizen by virtue of birth. Citizenship was a valuable privilege that included:
- Rights to engage in business in a city.
- Protections under the law.
- Permission to reside in a city without being expelled.
Citizenship was extended by individual cities to some of their inhabitants, primarily those who wanted to engage in business, and did not pertain to the country as a whole.
Those who received the rights to citizenship were recorded in citizenship books [Borgerskabpprotokoller].
Borgerskabprotokoller. The earliest citizenship books in Denmark date from medieval times, but most are from later centuries. They include information such as names, ages, social and economic status, occupation and training, and sometimes birthplaces and relationships. Until the twentieth century, only males of the middle or upper classes, mostly merchants and tradesmen, were granted citizenship.
Genealogical use of citizenship books is usually limited to the time period before church records. They are also used to help trace migrations not recorded in other records. The Family History Library has obtained copies of some Danish citizenship books. They are listed in the catalog under, for example:
DENMARK, [COUNTY], [CITY] - COURT RECORDS
The original citizenship books are generally kept by the city and may be found in city archives or city halls.