Denmark Emigration and Immigration
|Denmark Research Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or coming into (immigrating) a country. Danish emigration records can be a useful source of genealogical information. They are usually found as passenger lists. The information in these records includes the emigrants' names, ages, occupations, and destinations and often the places of birth and last places of residence.
These sources can be very valuable in helping you determine where in Denmark your ancestor came from. They can also help in constructing family groups. If you do not find your ancestor, you may find emigration information about your ancestor's neighbors. People who lived near each other in Denmark sometimes settled together in the country they emigrated to.
Danish emigration first began in 1619 when reverend Rasmus Jensen sailed to America. However, until the 1850's it always occurred in very low numbers. From about 1820-1850 about 60 Danes emigrated to American every year. Others went to places to destinations such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Latin America, and the islands of the South Pacific. Most early emigrants settled in the United States in the Midwest and the prairie provinces of Canada. In the 1850s, large numbers of Danish converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emigrated to the United States, and many settled in Utah. Emigration from Denmark gradually increased in the 1870s, peaking in the early 1880s.
Most Danish emigrants left through the port of København (Copenhagen). (See also FamilySearch: Copenhagen: Emigration and Immigration.) The departure records from this port are called passenger lists. These lists begin in 1869. The information in them varies over time, but it usually includes the emigrants' names, ages, occupations, and destinations. Relationships and last residence or birthplace may also be given.
The original records of Copenhagen can be found at the national archive or the Provincial Archives of Zealand [Landsarkivet for Sjælland] in Copenhagen; copies are at the Danes Worldwide Archives in Ålborg. The Family History Library has microfilmed 100% of these records dating from 1869 to 1911. You can also search the Copenhagen Emigration Records through Det Danske Udvandrerarkiv, Københavns Politis Udvandrerprotokoller.
You will find microform copies of the original Copenhagen emigration records by doing a Place search of the FamilySearch Catalog under DENMARK - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.
The Copenhagen emigration records are divided into direct and indirect emigration. If, after leaving Copenhagen, a ship travelled directly to its destination, the emigration was called direct emigration. If the ship stopped at least once at another port before arriving at its destination, the emigration was indirect emigration. The passenger lists are listed by year, and then alphabetically (almost) by surname.
A special list of Latter-day Saint emigrants for the years 1872-1894 appears on FHL film number 040,994.
Many emigrants from the counties of Schleswig-Holstein and Jylland emigrated through the port of Hamburg, Germany, or other European ports. The Hamburg records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library. These passenger lists and indexes are most fully described in Hamburg Passenger Lists Note: the old Hamburg Passenger Lists Resource Guide has been incorporated into this article. Also see the microfiche instructions in Hamburg Passenger Lists.
Another good source of information about Danish emigration is the Danish Emigration Archives, located in Aalborg, Denmark. This archive has copies of the original emigration lists and other information about Danish emigrants. Inquiries are welcomed. Their address is—
The Danish Emigration Archives
P.O. Box 1353
Internet: Udvandrerarkivet forside
It is a good idea to include a self-addressed envelope and several international postage coupons with your request.
Passenger Lists. Most Danish immigrants to the United States arrived at the ports of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Quebec, and Montreal. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of the records and indexes for many of these ports. See United States Emigration and Immigration for more information.
The following is a bibliography of over 2,500 published lists of emigrants and immigrants:
Filby, P. William. Passenger and Immigrations Lists Bibliography, 1538-1900. 2nd ed. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1988. (Family History Library book 973 W33p 1988.) More than 1,000 of these lists are indexed in P. William Filby, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 9 vols. (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1981-; Family History Library book Ref 973 W33p). This does not index official U.S. arrival lists. Many of the names are from post-1820 published sources.
People tracing Danish Latter-day Saint ancestors should see the LDS Research page Tracing LDS Ancestors for additional sources.
A fun read about emmigrating from Denmark to the United States can be found here. It is titled '100 pieces of Advice for Emigrants'. (dated 1911)
Community and Police Registers of Arrivals and Removals [Tyendeprotokoller, Melderegister]
Research use: Between 1875, when churches ceased to record arrivals and removals, and 1923 when National Registration was established, it can be very difficult to follow ancestors who moved from community to community during their young, unsettled years. These arrival/removal records make it possible to determine the place of origin of an ancestor in order to find the birth information and continue research into earlier generations; they are also helpful in following unwed mothers and their children.
Record type: Local government registration of unsettled working class persons or domestics [tyendes] moving into or out of communities. These records were made to keep track of the young, generally unmarried, men and women who worked as domestic servants and farmhands until they settled down with a family in a community. In cities and town the local town bailiff [byfoged] recorded these arrivals and removals starting in 1854. In rural communities the parish bailiff [sognfoged] was responsible for recording farmhands after 1875. In the southern area of Jutland, formerly governed by Prussia from 1864 to 1920, a similar system of registration [Melderegister] was introduced in 1867. In 1923 the national government established the present system of National Registration.
Time period: Cities 1854-1923, Rural communities 1875-1923, Prussian area 1867-1923.
Contents: Names of servants, farmhands, and farm maidens; date of removal or arrival in the community, former residence, occupation, age; sometimes birth date, birthplace, etc.
Location: In provincial and city archives and local police stations. Population coverage: 20 to 30%.
For more information on immigration to Denmark, see the article Immigration to Denmark.
Passenger lists of emigrants (udvanderer) were not recorded until 1868, with the increase of emigrants. Emigration records were the responsibility of the police and were kept with the other police records. The police records contain information such as:
- last residence
- birth place
The police records from 1869 - 1908 have been extraced and are available for free on http://www.emiarch.dk
These records are also available at the Family History Library and at the different archives in Copenhagen.
In connection with the police records, there are also passport records. These records contain information about the emigrants, especially where they recieved the passport from. Unlike the police records, the passports run from 1788 to 1850. The records include information such as:
- traveler's name
- Where the passport was issued
- Where going to
- How many people are traveling together: paying passengers, and non-paying passengers(such as children under 15, and the poor)
- How it was paid for (whether in silver or in notes)
- other remarks
The passport records are a good way to find emigration information proior to the official police records.
Danish Emigration Archive, Copenhagen Police Emigration Protocols
It covers only emigration from Denmark in the period 1869-1940, but only the period up to 1908 is yet in the database. Consequently emigration from that part of Denmark which was under German rule 1864-1920 is not covered, i.e. the counties Haderslev, Aabenraa, Sønderborg and Tønder north of today’s border. The register was written by the police in Copenhagen but covers all Denmark.
From the main page Copenhagen Police Emigration Protocols. it is possible to choose English among many other languages. Once here, you can search for person’s by filling in the form and choose “Start Search”. When writing a person’s name you write the family name first followed by one or more first names. Example “Madsen, Viggo”. Narrow your search by filling in as many boxes as possible, but be aware that you can also narrow too much to get a result. Remember that names of person’s and places are often spelled in different ways and use your imagination. Kristensen may be Christensen etc. If you know the year, but not a more precise date, you just write the year and nothing more.
There is an additional register with about 4000 people who emigrated in 1879-1887 via Hamburg, and are not covered by the ordinary register: Aalborg City Archives and Vejle City Archives. This register is only searchable in Danish (Name, Occupation, Parish, Year, ID-code)."
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Denmark,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1987-1998.
Family History Library Staff. "Emigration," Denmark Research Aids. Salt Lake City: Family History Library, March 2002.
Pasregnskaber for København, 1834. Salt Lake City: Family History Library Microfilm no. 495471.