I work in Copenhagen, Denmark, close to the National Archive and the original sources and documents and cover all aspects of genealogical investigations. If you would like to learn about your familyhistory,
("Emigrants on Larsens Plads, Copenhagen", 1890)
I can help you find your Danish roots.
- Thank you so very much for the information you sent over night, we were so excited to read your email this morning. Did not expect all of that so quickly. Copies did come through clearly, I printed them off and re scanned them to make them bigger. Kind regards Finn and Christine F..
- Thanks for the note and the documents. I hope to visit Copenhagen this summer and visit some of my cousins who live near there. Thanks again, Marty J..
- Thank you so much for sending me the scan. Sincerely, Larry
- Hi Ernst, I must thank you again for all the work you have done and it has been a wonderful help and very much appreciated. Kindest regards from Australia,
Probate court records
The probate court records are often vital to the genealogist. Because they state the names etc. of the relatives of a deceased person who are going to inherit what ever items he or she might have left. Most of the protocols have a name index, but in order to read the actual text about a specific estate, a good knowledge of Danish is absolutely necessary.
A walk through time
Especially before about the 1840īs, probate court records can be very informative. Then they may not just hold the names of heirs and the total amount of the estate. Often all the possesions of the deceased had been registered and listed with a value in the protocol. And it could be just everything: pots, pans, clothes, pillows, sheets, candlesticks, household items, furniture, cows, pigs, beehives, etc. A registration like this is like a visit to the home of relatives, who have been dead for centuries!
The probate court records
will in gen
eral give you this information:
Name of the deceased
His or her residence and occupation
Name of widow or widower
Names of heirs (children, brothers, sisters, etc.)
Names of guardians
Account of the estate
Probate court records are kept in original at the Provincial Archives, where records of the area in question from at least about 1760-1800 to 1930-50 would be forund. Of course, not all older protocols have been preserved. The National Archives has a number of older probate court records on microfilm. Probate court records are in general accesible when they are 50 years old.
If your ancestors emigrated after 1868, you may be able to find them in the emigration lists, that were kept by the police in Copenhagen. This, however, will only be possible, if they bought a contract-ticket from an emigration agent with an office in Copenhagen.
You can link to on-line emigration-lists presented by Danish Data Archives and Danes Worldwide Archives by clicking here.
Why are emigrants in police archives?
The police did not keep records of emigrants - but of all the contracts signed between agents and emigrants. This was done to prevent "smart" agents from cheating possible emigrants by taking their money, and conveniently "forgetting" to purchase tickets, help with travel arrangements, etc.
So, if your ancestor - for some reason - travelled independently, you will not find him or her in the emigration records! Most people had a contract with an agent, but not all. Sometimes one or two family members (e.g. a father and a grown son, two brothers , etc.) would be the first to emigrate and then later send back tickets for the rest of the family.
What information do the emigration lists hold?
If you find your ancestor in the emigration records, you will also find information on:
Place of birth and last residence
No. of the contract
Date of police registration
Name of ship
|Since 1645 all pastors in Denmark have been obliged by law to keep parish registers. Most parish registers have been preserved from about the 1750īs. Some however, are older and date back to about 1670īs or even earlier. Other parishes have been less fortunate. Fires, mice, insects etc. may have destroyed all church records older than 1814.
Parish records from 1812-14 to the present
1812-14 are important years for Danish genealogists. At that time, Danish pastors were instructed to keep parish registers in two copies - and never let them be under the same roof overnight.
|| Therefore, practically all parishes would at least have records from that time and onwards! These parish registers are also easier to work with. After 1812-14 the registers for the first time were kept in books that were designed especially for the purpose. These more recent registers have columns with printed headings, which make it quite easy to check out e.g. all records of marriages or deceased women, without having to go through the whole book.|
Censuses have been held in Denmark at various intervals. The first census of interest to the genealogist was held in 1787, the following in 1801, 1834, 1840, 1845, 1850, 1855, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1901, 1911,1916, 1921, 1925, 1930, 1949, 1950 and 1965.
The census of 1845 is particularly interesting, since this is the first census that will give you the very important information about "place of birth" for the people listed.
The census is usually reliable, but...
Usually the information found in census lists is quite reliable. There are, however, a few things that might be worth remembering. The ages found in a census list may - especially in the old ones - be slightly wrong, particularly if the listed person is elderly. People did not always remember exactly how old they were - in those days, there might not be much difference between 70 and 80.
You may also see a "place of birth", where the name of a village has been mistaken for the name of a parish.
Names may shrink
In the more recent census lists, you may also sometimes find that not all of a personīs names have been listed. From around the 1880īs, it became quite fashionable to have three, four (or even more!) Christian names. In the census you may find only the name used daily. So, Anna Kirstine Olivia Augusta Hansen, might just be listed as "Kirstine Hansen". Or maybe just by the abbreviation "Stine Hansen". If "Stine" was a young child, living with her parents, her surname might be left out, and surnames listed only for her parents.
The census will in general give you this information:
Position in household
Place of birth (only after 1845)
Note (E.g. handicaps etc.)
All State Archives have microfiche copies of all Danish census list from 1787-1890. In addition to that, the Provincial Archives may have additional records concerning their specific region.
Census lists are in general accesible when they are 75 years old. Lists after 1860 are kept on film and in original at the National Archives.
|Danish Counties 1793-1970|
Among the 5.3 mill. Danes present day JENSEN is the most common lastname, carried by 312,396 individuals comprising 5.84 percent, followed by HANSEN, NIELSEN, PEDERSEN and ANDERSEN. The 15 most common names account for as many as 40 percent of the Danish population - all of them of patronymic origin - and all top 100 surnames account for as many as 57,22% of all Danes.