Copenhagen: Poor Records

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Denmark Gotoarrow.png Copenhagen Gotoarrow.png Poor and Foster Care Records

Poor relief records (Fattighjælpprotokollerne) are an essential help in tracking families that may otherwise be lost from other records. These records run from 1799 to 1940 at the Københavns Stadsarkiv in Copenhagen. The poor records are available online.

Poor and Foster Care Records in Copenhagen

When a family received poor relief they were given a so called “charity card” (almissekort) and a number. The number listed on the “charity card” is the number written next to the family in the poor records. When the individual or family stopped receiving support, the “charity card” was returned to the poor relief department and given to another family who needed relief. Along with the poor, these records also include information on foster children and the families that were taking care of them. These records are indexed alphabetically on index cards in the archive, and are available up to 75 years ago.

1799-1815, 1816-1857

The poor relief records began with the poor ordinance of 1799. With the new law, poor families were able to receive help from the state in obtaining food and paying the rent. Up until 1855 the records were entitled Mandtalsprotokoller. The earlier records have minimal information, usually recording just the head of household and information on him/her. Starting in 1816, more information, though still basic, is recorded about those receiving poor relief, including more members of the family.


In 1855, the poor records changed. The records were renamed to “charity records” (Almisseprotokoller), and detailed information was kept about each individual receiving support from the department. Also, more information about foster children was recorded, including where the child was sent for foster care.

The Records

The poor records contain a vast variety of information concerning the individual or family receiving support from the state. Information varies from year to year and record to record, but there is common information in all. Some of the information you may find in the poor relief records are:
-Birth date (from 1855) and place
-Occupation (from 1816 the records contain work ability)
-When the individual or family recieved either public or private support and for how long
-Marital status of women
-How long the family or indiviual has lived in Copenhagen
-and other miscellaneous information including remarks about the family

(These records are not available at the Family History Library)


Københavns Stadsarkiv, Fast Fattighjælp: 1799-1915 (København: Københavns Stadsarkiv, 2008), research pamphlet.

Online access to Poor Records, Copenhagen City Archives: