Danish Church and Census Records

May 8, 2019  - by 

Danish records are an excellent resource for family history! While individual situations vary, if you have Danish heritage, it is often possible to extend your family line to the middle of the 17th century.

FamilySearch has an excellent online Danish collection, with millions of images and records. Read on to learn more about what you can find.

A Brief History of Danish Records

On May 30, 1645, King Christian IV decreed that all parishes in eastern Denmark were to record the christenings, marriages, and burials for each person in the parish. The following year, this same requirement was made to apply to the rest of Denmark.

Starting in 1812, it was required that two copies of these records be kept, each in a separate location. Only in the most extreme of circumstances are there no parish records after 1814, when general compliance began.

Danish Birth and Christening Records

Birth and christening records give information about each child born or christened in the parish. In Danish, these are called fødelse og dåb optegnelser.

Information you can find in these records includes the following:

  • Name of the child
  • Name of the father
  • Name of the mother
  • The family’s residence
  • Names of the godparents

After 1814, the name of the mother was always listed. Before 1814, often only the name of the father was included.

Learn more about Danish birth and christening records.

Danish Confirmation Records

Confirmation records were made of each person who was confirmed a member of the Danish church. Confirmation first became required in 1736 and typically took place when a person was between the ages of 14–19. These records are a middle record between birth and marriage and help establish residency. In Danish, confirmation records are called konfirmations optegnelser.

Information you can find in these records includes the following:

  • Name of the teenager
  • Age of the teenager
  • Name of the father
  • Name of the mother (after 1814)

Learn more about Danish confirmation records.

Danish Engagement and Marriage Records

A danish woman and her new husband.

Engagement and marriage records are records of each bride and groom who were engaged or married in the parish. In Danish, these records are called trolovelse og vielser optegnelser.

Information you can find in these records includes the following:

  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Date of the engagement
  • Date of the wedding
  • Residence of the bride and groom
  • Age of the bride and groom

Learn more about Danish engagement and marriage records.

Danish Moving-In and Moving-Out Records

Starting in 1814, priests also recorded information about people who moved in and out of their parishes. These records are wonderful for tracking a family over time! Often these records continue until 1875. In Danish, these records are called tilgangs-lister og afgangs-lister.

Information you can find in these records includes the following:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Place moving to or from in the other parish
  • Date of the move

Learn more about Danish moving-in and moving-out records.

Danish Death and Burial Records

a family outside of a church building.

Death and burial records give information about each person who died or was buried in the parish. In Danish, these records are called døde og begravelser optegnelser.

Information you can find in these records includes the following:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Name of the person’s father or husband
  • Date of death
  • Date of burial
  • Place of residence
  • Age at the time of death
  • Cause of death

Prior to 1814, death and burial records might refer to women only by their husband’s name and might give only the date of burial rather than the date of death.

Learn more about Danish death and burial records.

Danish Census Records

In addition to parish records, Denmark also kept excellent census records. The first national census was taken in 1769, but only fragments survive. The second census was in 1787, and all censuses from this point on contain wonderful information to help you find your family.

Information you can find in these records includes the following:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Parish of birth (after 1845)

Learn more about Danish census records.

Now that you’ve learned about Denmark’s records, search FamilySearch’s Danish record collections, and find your family—hopefully you’ll learn something new!

Exploring Your Danish Heritage

a family has fun on a dock in denmark.

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  1. I noticed the Danish word for engagement was misspelled. It’s trolovelse not trovloelse.

  2. Where would a person find records for Schluswig Holstein, Germany before 1863 when that part of Germany was under rule of Denmark? In Denmark or in Germany? what would have been the name of the Parish when under Danish rule?

    1. I have the same problem – oh to find a researcher who understands the shifting borders!

  3. Wait!!! Tanner Tolmann, that’s my family’s picture at the top of the blog post!!!!! My great grandmother and great-great-grandmother. I assume you got the picture off of FamilySearch, where I put the picture. That’s so amazing!! Want to know more of the story?????

  4. Please see question from donna lee cook. I have an interest in such records for northern Germany when it was claimed by Danish rule.

  5. My husband Merrill c beck has direct line to Danish grandparents but when he had is DNA tested it said nothing about Danish but he was 27percent Sweden. How can that be? We have documentation that is grandfather is Danish

    1. First of all it depends where you tested your DNA. I have found 23andme to have far more accurate ethnicity results than AncestryDNA. However, even with that said, unless there is a strong reason not to, I would always believe the results of the paper trail before DNA ethinicity results. Right now DNA is a powerful tool for proving and disproving relationships between living people and identifying the parents of adoptees but it is a lot less accurate when it comes to ethnicity. The reasons for this, is there simply isn’t a lot of genetic diversity among Europeans. There are a lot of reasons for this. For example, the vikings spread their DNA all over Europe but even before that, consider the age of migration. The Angles and Saxons originally lived in Northern Germany but around 400 AD large groups of them migrated to Ekngland, the Goths started in Sweden. Some stayed there but others went on to settle the rest of Europe. European DNA is not super diverse because historically none of the European coutnries lived in a vacuum. Concerning Swedish and Danish, anciently the Swedes and the Danes were said to have descended from a common ancestor. The final consideration is that borders have not always been what they are now. Until 1658, Scania, Halland, and Blekinge were actually part of Denmark. Then they were conquered by Sweden but the people’s DNA didn’t suddenly change overnight. So in short, trust your paper trail unless your DNA matches show that there was a non-paternal event.

  6. The Danish state archives has the censuses for all of Schleswig and the parish records for northern Schleswig which went back to Denmark. Germany has the rest. My understanding is the records are in an archive in Kiel or something but I am not sure.

  7. Thank you for this information on Danish records. Now I will try to learn how to access these records.