Most beginning genealogists start by researching and extending the genealogy of their own surname. Not me - I started by researching Browns, Williams, and Clarks. If you've got a surname like mine (Rasmussen) you might have Danish ancestry. I'm just starting my quest into the wonderful records of Denmark.
Even if you have been researching for many years, any time you begin researching in a new area, you should become acquainted with its research methodology. In other words, learn about the history, geography, culture, records available, where the records are located, customs, etc. I've found several things to be helpful as I've started by Danish research.
FamilySearch Research Outline
Research outlines are available for the U.S. states and most major countries around the world. The purpose of these outlines is to introduce you to the records you can use. They describe the content, use, and availability of major genealogical records. Use these outlines to set meaningful goals and to select the records that will help you achieve your goals.
For Denmark, the outline explains how to use:
- Archives and Libraries
- Church records
- Civil registration
- Court records
- Emigration and immigration
- Historical Geography
- Land and property
- Military records
- Probate records
- Social life and customs
The languages section lists translations of the common genealogical terms that you would find in the major records.
Legacy's Research Guidance
Christen Rasmussen was born in 1820 in Niløse, Holbæk, Denmark. Legacy's Research Guidance listed the records I should use to locate information about his life, and how to find his parents. It suggested that I search the census records, and had direct links to these records which were available online.
It then suggested that I search the parish registers. This has been a gold mine - Legacy's Research Guidance linked me directly to the parish registers which were available online.
Better yet, Legacy didn't just list a whole bunch of records in one long list - it actually ranked the records in the order of priority based on my goal. As a new Danish researcher, this has given me a great jump-start.
Danish State Archives (census and parish registers)
One of the repositories that Legacy's Research Guidance suggested was to use the Danish State Archives, or the Statens Arkiver. They have digitized the following census schedules:
Others will be digitized as time permits. They mention that all Danish parish registers older than 1892 are included in their digitization project. I learned that this doesn't necessarily mean that all the registers have been digitized, but that they do have plans to do this.
Danish Demographic Database (census, probate, emigration)
Otherwise known as the Dansk Demografisk Database, this free website has been one of the most helpful resources. It has transcriptions and indexes of census, probate, and emigration records. Because the census records at the State Archives are not indexed, I used this database to first locate Christian Rasmussen and his family in the census. And because I'm still not an expert in reading Danish, its transcriptions of the records were especially helpful. I was then easily able to locate a digitized copy of the original census.
We all know about the Internet's ultimate guide to genealogy - Cyndi's List. This is another great starting point for Danish research. The Denmark section currently lists 222 links to various Danish resources. Many of the links are of how-to articles, maps, mailing lists, and links to the major databases described above.
Danish version of Legacy
If you really want to become immersed in Danish genealogy, Legacy is currently being translated into Danish. That's right - every report, blank charts, help file - the entire interface is in Danish. Now this hasn't helped my research too much, but it does include many of the important Danish genealogical terms. If you're good with the language, you can help test it.
Other helpful Danish Resources?
If you know of some good starting points for Danish research, and would like to share them with our Legacy users, please click on the Submit News link within the Legacy Home tab in Legacy 6. We'll consider it for future publication. Or visit http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/submitnews.asp