3 How To Begin

Just like when reading a book, one needs to start on the first page. This is another unlabeled photo found in a group of Danish family photos.

Start by doing Danish Genealogy in Small Pieces.

    1. I will be showing the big picture.   It took many months until I was comfortable with Danish Genealogy.   United States research is  more simple than Danish research because there are so many more records indexed.  Be comfortable sourcing United States records first before starting Danish.  Remember that one can source (put documentation and explanations of records) like I do or choose your own way, but make sure everything is sourced and the record is attached to the person when there is a date for birth/christening, marriage, or death/burial.  People will be less likely to change your research and it will lead to clues for other family members.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               .
    2. Save probates for months later when you are comfortable with kirkebogers (church records that contain birth/christening, marriage, or death/burial) and censuses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
    3. Begin by making sure your family information is correct starting with yourself and working out.  Danish research can be tricky especially due to similar names so one wants to work on the correct “Jens Nielsen” (a name like John Smith).  FIND ALL THE RECORDS TO VERIFY DATES  OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIED THAT ARE CLOSEST TO YOU (IE, GRANDPARENTS) AND THEIR SIBLINGS AND WORK OUT.  AFTER LOCATING ACTUAL RECORDS,  MANY ERRORS CAN BE CORRECTED OR LEAD TO CLUES TO FIND DISTANT ANCESTORS.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
    4. Keep in mind that events (births/christenings, marriages, death/burials)   need to have records to back them up if at all possible not just a family Bible or history.  Several of the histories or papers from family members were incorrect once I searched for Danish records.  Even though “Aunt Gertie” was your family genealogist that may have recorded things incorrectly, she was doing the best she could with the resources of the time.  Double check all of  “Aunt Gertie’s” work with records that are available to us NOW.   This may help you find other family members.  Having the family tree that goes back to Adam shouldn’t be the goal of family history but CORRECT INFORMATION recorded should.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

      Ole Jensen who is the first Danish ancestors that I researched that was born and died in Denmark. He will be the case study on this blog.
    5. Work on the “Ole Jensen” case study  on this blog to find out how to look for your records before you look for your own family records. (I am teaching you how to fish rather than giving you the fish.)  This search will save you time in the long run.  MyDanishRoots.com is a great place to find out more Danish history and tips on Danish family history before starting.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
    6. Right  click on your mouse when looking at information on the inter-net in Danish and hit “translate to English.”  Sometimes in the upper right hand corner a button will say “Translate to English,” if so click on that.  (I also have a section in the handout with translation helps at the end of  the “Case Study” the “Handout.”  My recommendation is to print off the 26 page Danish genealogy translation handout from FamilySearch before looking at Danish records. http://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/images/0/0b/Danish_Genealogical_Word_List_October_2010.pdf     .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
    7. Before doing sourcing, look for records or extra info on a person, on FamilySearch, go to the person’s profile, click on ”Research Helps” (These are records that FamilySearch already found for you), after click on “Search Records” and see if there is any more info on this person.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
    8. I also like to go under Tools and “Possible Duplicates.”  I don’t connect everything unless I know for sure they are correct.  I can get clues and sometimes even connect an extra child that I didn’t know existed.  I can then find those records while I’m sourcing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
    9. After I have done research and especially if I have changed on FamilySearch.org, I check for more records and duplicates.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
    10. I also look for Danish Records on FamilySearch.org by going to Search- Records- Browse all Published Collections-Filter By Collection Name- “Denmark”- then click on which category I want such as Burials, Marriages, Estate Records, etc.  Sometimes things are indexed and sometimes they are not.  If they are not, I typically use the Arkivalieronline – se originale dokumenter på nettet at the Danish National Archives that will be discussed later.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

      1888 – Danish emigrants at Larsen’s Plads leaving for America together with their relatives – saying goodbye. The steamship at the pier is “SS Thingvalla” equipped with one funnel and three masts. Painting by Edvard Petersen. Economic problems were by far the greatest reason why most Danes left for foreign shores. In the mid-1800s the Danish population increased rapidly. This meant there were not enough jobs, and unemployment increased. In 1864 almost one-fourth of Danish territory was lost when Slesvig-Holsten fell to Germany. The northern half of Slesvig (Sønderjylland) was Danish, but the rest of Slesvig-Holsten was German. Under Prussian rule, German military service was required and Danish culture was repressed. This political persecution prompted many Slesvig Danes to flee.

Patronymics and names

  1. A child’s last name would be the first name of the father with an –sen  (boys) and –datter (girls).  Girls would typically keep their maiden name on censuses.  Around 1850 surnames were kept.  (The government wanted this to stop in 1820 but it took until almost 1870 until it stopped in most places.) .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  2. Many times children were named after their grandparents or parents.  If a child died, many times a child born after that would  be named the same name.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  3.  These trends can be tricky but can help find the next generation on a church record.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  4. Common names for boys were Jens, Soren, Jorgen, Rasmus, Niels, and Ole so their posterity would be Jensen, Sorensen, Jorgensen, Rasmussen, Nielsen, and Olsen.  Common girls’ names were Maren, Birthe, Mette, Karen, Kirstine/Kristine, Ane/Anne/Anna, Marie,  Kirsten, Elisabeth,  and  Margrethe/Margrete.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  5. There are sometimes  multiple middle names and can go by their middle names.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  6. Here is an example of the naming system before 1850-70.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

    An unidentified family photo from Skaelskor, Denmark.

Jens Christensen- Father of Ole

Ole Jensen- Son of Jens

Frederick Olsen- Son  of Ole

Kirsten Olsdatter- Daughter of Ole

Danish Alphabet

  1. There are a few different letters in the Danish alphabet that resemble English letters in our alphabet so be careful to use the correct letters or convert your keyboard to show those letters.  There are search tricks the can used in censuses that will be shown later.  The genealogical dictionary that I recommended has them in alphabetical order so the Ø ø and Æ æ are not found in 0 and ae.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  2. This link will  help you type some Danish letters if you want to search in Danish.  The most common letter similarity I found that needs to be used, especially in censuses, is for 0.  Use this website-  ø.http://danish.typeit.org/.   Jørgen instead of Jorgen.
A a B b C c D d E e F f G g H h I i J j
a be se de e æf ge i jåd
K k L l M m N n O o P p Q q R r S s T t
æl æm æn o pe ku Ær æs te
U u V v W w X x Y y Z z Æ æ Ø ø Å å  
u ve dobbelt-
æks y sæt æ Ø å

 3.  Spelling was phonetic (spelled like it sounds) until about 1900 so censuses, church records, and other documents have many different spellings of names, professions, parishes, etc.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Internet Search

  1. Try to do an internet search on Google on the couple that one is trying to research to see if someone else has done a lot of work already on some other genealogy program.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  2. For example type “Ole Jensen” and “Anne Marie Holgersdatter” and “Denmark”  in Google since we are researching their family today.  This may show a result but sometimes one needs to put dates of birth or other information in quotes to minimize the results.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Church Records

  1. These are critical to Danish Genealogy.  The government required everyone to report christenings/births/marriages and deaths to the nearest church, which was mainly Lutheran until 1849.  People usually went to the church nearest their home whether they attended church or not.  Lutheran parish records began about 1680-1720.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  2. Before 1814 all the clergy had to buy their own church books to record information such as birth/christenings, confirmations, marriages, and deaths.  Some of them are very squished and hard to read.  Some priests wrote a lot of details about the people and others did not.  There were supposed to be 2 copies of each church book.  After 1814, they were kept in 2 different locations due to natural disasters or losing them.   (Arkivalieronline – se originale dokumenter på nettet now only lists one copy.  If one wants to see both copies, go to Salldata AO genvej). Fortunately, the priests put them on acid free paper so the documents have held up very well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  3. Before 1814, the men and women births, confirmations, and deaths were written together.  After 1814, there were standardized forms so it makes searching quicker and easier along with separating the men and the women.    Here is a link to summarized record headings for the different years.  https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Denmark_Parish_Register_Headings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  4. Here is a listing that describes what are in  church records. https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Denmark_Church_Records.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  5. Headings of the Danish Censuses are at Denmark Census | Learn | FamilySearch.org.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

    These are all unidentified Danish ancestor photos.
  6. Baptism/Birth (birth=fødte, født,  baptism at home=hjemmedøbt, baptism= døb, daab)  – Christening registers usually give the infant’s and parents’ names, status of legitimacy, names of witnesses and godparents (and often their residences), and the christening date. You may also find the child’s birth date, the father’s occupation, and the family’s place of residence.  Sometimes if the child might not have been doing well, the midwife would even do the baptism or it was done a few days later.  Sometimes even months later a second baptism will be done and there is a huge party with multiple witnesses.  Sometimes in earlier church records before 1814 only the father would be listed on the baptism and sometimes they would list the women that held the child at baptism and not list the mother!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  7. Confirmation (Konfirmerede) – Starting in 1736, the Danish church required that young people be instructed in Lutheran catechism and pass a test before taking their first communion. This usually took place between the ages of 14 and 17 years old.  The listed order of the teens on the particular year determine the scholastic status of the teenager.  Those listed first are the top students and those on the last are the less stellar students.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  8. Confirmation records kept during the 1700s generally lists the person’s name, residence, and sometimes his or her age. After 1814, the parents’ names, christening date and place, performance grade, and date of smallpox vaccination also appear.  After their confirmations, they would typically leave the household and work as an apprentice or work as a maid as shown in many census records.   This can give a hint if the child was alive or dead during this time period or help establish relationships or other tips in Danish research.  I typically don’t use them unless I am searching for a specific clue.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      imageedit_38_2185501337
  9. Marriages (ægteskab, giftermål; vielse, bryllup, forbindelse, forening, copulerede) Marriage registers give the marriage date and the names of the bride and groom and their respective residences. The record usually indicates whether they were single or widowed and gives the names of witnesses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  10.  After 1814, the registers often include other information about the bride and groom, such as ages, occupations, names of fathers, and sometimes birthplaces.                                                                                                                                                                                   .
  11.  Marriage records sometimes give the date of engagement and the three dates on which the marriage intentions were announced. These announcements, called banns, gave the opportunity for anyone to come forward who knew of any reason why the couple should not be married. Couples were generally married in the bride’s home parish. Typically, the bride and groom were in their twenties when they married.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
  12. Death (Døde, død, begravelse) Burials were recorded in the church record of the parish where the person was buried. The burial usually took place within a few days of the death.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  13. Burial registers give the deceased’s name, death or burial date and place, and age. After 1814, the place of residence, cause of death, and names of survivors are often listed. Occasionally the deceased’s birth date and place and parents’ names are given. .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     .
  14. Burial records may exist for individuals who were born before the earliest birth and marriage records. Stillbirths were usually recorded in church burial registers.  Sometimes all stillbirths were listed at the end of the deaths.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Order of Records                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

  1. Before 1814, indexes are crucial to seeing the order of records.  Typically, the index is at the first of the record on about lookup (opslag or #) 2 or 3.  Typically, the order is Daab (baptism), Konfirmerede (confirmations), Copulerede (Marriage), and Døde, død, begravelse (Death or burial). They may use some of the other names.  Be very careful of Daab (baptism) and Dod  (death).  They will put different date ranges on certain pages.  .  In a few parishes, they will list the stillborn children at the last of the death records.  WHEN LOOKING FOR RECORDS BEFORE 1814, ALWAYS LOOK ON BOTH SIDES OF THE PAGES.  .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          After 1814, the general rule is birth and baptisms of males then birth baptisms of females, confirmations of males then females, marriages, death/burials of males then females.  Small pox vaccination records are sometimes found, also.  This is sometimes mentioned in marriage records. .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  2.  If there are 300 records in a date range of 1850-1865 and if I were looking for the birth of a female around June 1862, I would probably start on about opslag or # 120 because birth records take up the most space .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  3. Witnesses are important in that it helps verify if someone is the correct person since they are found on so many records.  They are typically relatives or friends.  They usually will show the location they are from so that aids one in tracking down their families. .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Look for other notes on the birth records.  They can tell you possible dates when the child died or  profession of the father or witness or                                                         other important dates in the families’ lives.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      imageedit_6_3103264268

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