Can you help with Danish research?

+8 votes
I am working with an elderly gentleman whose Paternal immigrant ancestor was born in Denmark about 1829. His grandmother, Saxtorph, was born in 1875 in Denmark.

I will be assisting a volunteer who will be helping him get his tree on WikiTree.

He would like to learn more about his Danish ancestors, but I know nothing of Danish research and the nuances from that time period and earlier.

I would love to find a volunteer researcher but I am open to all options and ideas.

How should we proceed to obtain the information he desires as it will all be in Danish?

in Genealogy Help by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (475k points)
Thank you kind sir.
I believe this link will be very helpful! ty very much!

6 Answers

+2 votes
Ahhhhhhh. I thought we were gonna eat donuts. :(

Obviously, I don't know any Danish besides strawberry and cherry.

Good luck.
by Betty Fox G2G6 Pilot (170k points)
I make sure you can translate and figure out these families in Danish in the 1600s?  So, does something like von Coewenhoven really translate to Copenhagen?!!!  Were the Hillyers really Hilliers, Hilliard, and did they appear in America from Denmark too...Yay for the Voorhees or Vorhis who were whom in Denmark??  Then might we start with a Branden (sp?) from Norway who is also listed as a Nelsdatter or Arnesdatter, yet Astri become Ida and there are no scandinavian names like Espeseth?  Sorry, minor vent...thank you and let's enjoy our danish....(excellent butter and bleu cheese they make there....)
+5 votes
Yes, I can help, but what is the question?
by Torben Friberg Sørensen G2G6 Mach 1 (12.7k points)
In the US, there are volunteer sites like Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness where individuals volunteer to do look ups or go to court houses and libraries to track down records.  

Is there such a site in Denmark?

I still need to get his Danish profiles on WikiTree but what sites online can US based research go to for Danish research?

What advice in general do you have for those doing Danish research?

Isn't G2G here on Wikitree the site you are looking for?

But you can also go to this Danish site:

The main tools in Danish genealogy are the censuses and the church records that lists all births (baptisms), marriages, deaths (burials).

Many of the censuses have been transcribed and are searchable on this site

The church records have been scanned and are available here: Choose "kirkebøger" for church records.

A basic understandig of the Danish language will be valuable when reading the records.

"Isn't G2G here on Wikitree the site you are looking for?"

Most certainly, which is why I posted here.  And with your kind help, I have just learned of three new places to search that I never knew about.

Thank you!

What I meant was that if you post your individual questions on G2G, I am certain that you will get the help you need.
Thanks Torben. As I have not yet posted any profiles on WikiTree, I do not have any specific questions yet.  I find different areas of genealogical research have their own unique issues. My initial question is what is Danish genealogical research like?  How is it unique or different.

 For example I do do a lot of Irish research. For Irish research it is very important to have  identified as many family members as possible and finding the townland or local parish is key to opening a lot of records. Also many US based sites like Family Search and Ancestry have a lot of Irish-based research. So for the Irish researcher, working the US based databases is a great place to start.

What should I know before I get started into Danish research?

I think you will find that there are many similarities between Irish and Danish genealogy research. I do not know anything about Irish genealogy, but from what you describe it is very similar to Danish research.

The US based sites you mention are also very useful for Danish genealogy. And the key here is also to know the parish of residence or preferably of birth. All registration to this day is done by the Church of Denmark. With information about date and place of birth, you can look the baptism up in the church records and this will also mention the names of the parents (in earlier times, often only the father). Then you can try to find a census that lists the entire family and from 1845 also the  birthplace of all family members, so you can start to search for the birth/baptism records of the parents and so on.

So i guess it is similar to many other places.

The more advanced genealogists will also use the military rolls but they only list males. Probate records are also useful because they sometimes list many relatives and describe their connections to the diseased.

Thank you Torben, this is very helpful.  When I get my volunteer set up on WikiTree, I am sure we will be back with more specific questions.  

I also have a lot of Dutch Ancestors and I rely heavily upon the Dutch-roots Project to keep me straight.  Fun with Patronymics and all that.

Have you encountered many Danish researchers on WikiTree?  Could we benefit from a Danish-Roots Project?

+3 votes
Over the last 5 years I learned that Danes, like Norwegians, were often labeled as Swedes because of political claims of ownership.  Also, the families moved among those 3 countries because of political situations.   I do not know how early in the 19th century this began (or earlier?), but I found this discrepancy in a few U.S. records as far back as c1875-1880.

I suggest you inquire how certain the gentleman is about the Danish ancestry.  If he knows it is Danish  because a parent or grandparent told him, I would rely on them and not on any U.S. census record to determine the correct country.

We found that the 1900 U.S. Federal Census is significantly misleading.  (State and territory census records were not as bad.)  In some states the 1900 enumerators did not differentiate Sweden, Norway, and Denmark at all.  They wrote Sweden for all three countries.  In other places enumerators wrote Sweden for Sweden and Denmark, but not Norway.  And yet others had Sweden for Norway, but not Denmark.   I could not find any instructions for the 1900 enumerators on how to handle this Scandinavian situation.  I have the impression that the enumerators who wrote Sweden for all three countries were attempting to have some form consistency.  This 1900 census has impeded and misled many researchers.

In our situation, one family branch (descendant through an 'oldest' child), 4 generations from the immigrants, had no living relatives who spoke the original language. They relied heavily on that 1900 census and searched only in Sweden.  Our branch (descendant through the youngest child) was only 2 generations from the immigrants, and we had elderly relatives living who grew up speaking the original language - Norwegian - and they knew their grandparents, the immigrants.  You can assess his certainty of Danish ancestry by his languages.

If there might be any doubt on which Scandinavian country they came from, see if he has any old family letters.  We had letters in which the relatives occasionally interspersed foreign words among the English words.  Another way to remove doubt is if he heard a few words or phrases himself.  We met a researcher who knew how to pronounce a handful of  phrases and understood their general meaning, but he wasn't sure what language it was.  He only knew he was Scandinavian.  He found people from each of those three countries, spoke the words as he learned them, and they identified the language.

I hope this gives you a few ideas.  --cc
+1 vote

See  for their basic naming convention.  Expand the bottom of the screen for additional information.

+2 votes

Between Danish Family Search,, the State Archives for Denmark, ,  and some excellent information in general guides on doing Danish genealogical research and reading old Gothic script, I've made some wonderful progress on my husband's Danish ancestors.  From 1814 forward, the Danish church records are in standard formats with preprinted column headings so you can pick out nearly all the information without having to read Danish.  Even earlier, back to about the mid 1700's they are usually in a standard enough format to pick out the basic information without having to read Danish much. 

If you use google chrome, there is a translate icon near the top left corner that will help you translate things that are typed out but not in English. A lot of things like the census will display in English at the Danish State Archives.

By comparing the census to the church records, you can confirm a lot going back to at least 1787, the first really good Denmark census. 

by Mary Jensen G2G6 Pilot (110k points)
0 votes
I'd gladly help you; both with researching and translating Danish sources of information.

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