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Knowing an ancestor's occupation can help you distinguish him from other individuals with the same name. In addition, the records associated with his occupation could provide information about his life and family.
Common Danish Occupations
For another alphabetized list of occupations, with their English translations, see http://www.folketimidten.dk/gb.htm.
Adjudant- assistant to a senior officer in the military
Aftægtsfolk- retired people
Aftægtskone- retired woman
Aftægtsmand- retired man
Almisse- alms, welfare
Almisselem- pauper, welfare recipient
Amtmand- chief county administrator
Amtsforratter- county commissioner
Arbejdsmand- worker, laborer
Behersker- ruler, lord, master
Betler, tigger- beggar
Birchedomer, Birkedommer- birke judge
Boghandler - book seller
Bogholder- bookkeeper, accountant
Brændevinsbrænder- distiller of spirits
Bydreng- delivery boy
Bypige- delivery girl
Baadsmand- boatswain, bosun
Daglejer- day worker
Degn- parish clerk, deacon
Degnen- the parish clerk, deacon
Drager- porter, carrier
Dragon- a dragoon (a member of a military unit composed of heavily armed mounted troops)
Dreier, drejer- turner (wood or ceramic)
Dreier-keramisk- ceramic thrower
Ekviperingshandler - boutiques/clothing handler
Enk. = enke, enkekone- widow
Enkem. = enkemand- widower
Fabriksarbejder- factory worker
Farver- color dyer
Fattig- poor, indigent
Foged- bailiff, official, sheriff
Forladefoged- baliff of the manor
Forpagter- lessee, tenant
Forvalter- administrator, agent, manager
Fourer- quartermaster sergeant
Frille- mistress, concubine
Frøken- miss., not a peasant woman
Fuldmægtig- attorney, advocate, head clerk
Fyrmester- lighthouse keeper
Fæstebonde- copyholder, leaseholder, farmer
Fæstegårdmand- copyholder, leaseholder, farmer
Fæstebonde, -mand- leaseholder on a farm
Fæster- person who is leasing
Gaardbeboer- people living on a farmejstlig
Gevær soldat- rifle soldier
Gjørtlemager- brazier, castings maker
Godsejer- estate owner
Graverkarl- grave digger
Greve- count (nobility)
Gaardbeboer- people living on a farm
Gårdbruger, gaardbruger- farm owner
Gårdejer, gaardejer- farm owner
Gårdfæster, gaardfæster- leaseholder, tenant
Gårdmand, gaardmand- farmer
Handelsmand- merchant, trader, salesman
Handskemager- glove maker
Herremand- lord of the manor
Hestehandler- horse dealer
Hovedbogholder- chief accountant
Hugaf- old soldier
Husar, hussar- cavalryman
Husbonde- husband, head of house
Husejer- owner of house
Husfader- head of the household
Husfolk- small farmers, about a couple
Husmand- cottager, small farmer
Husmand med Jord- cottager with land
Husmoder, huusmoder- wife, homemaker
Hyrde- herdsman, shepherd
Højædle og velbaarne- noble and welborn
Høker- small shop keeper
Håndensarbejdere- manuel workers
Inderste- tenant, renter
Indsidder- tenant, renter
Jomfru- maiden, miss., not a peasant woman, virgin
Jordløs husmand- landless cottager
Kammerjomfru- lady’s chambermaid
Kammerpige- lady’s chambermaid
Karetmager- coach builder
Karl- youth, farmhand
Kioskbud- convenience store messenger/errand runner
Kirkeværge- church warden
Klerk- clergyman, clerk
Klokker- clock, bell, bell ringer
Kommis- shop assistant, clerk
Kommunemand- city official
Kongsbonde- farmer working on the king's land
Kropsarbejder- manual worker
Krøbling- a cripple
Kulgrosserer- coal merchant
Kusk. kudsk- coachman, teamster
Kvæghyrde- cattle herdsman, cowboy
Købmand- merchant, storekeeper
Land boelsmand- tenant farmer
Lappeskomager- shoemaker, cobbler
Lavværge- widow’s spokesman (guardian)
Lensherre- feudal overlord
Leverandør- supplier, contractor
Lærling- student, apprentice
Madmoder- woman of the house, housewife
Medhustru- concubine, secondary wife
Mester- master (trade)
Møbelhandler- furniture dealer
Nagtvægter- night watchman
Nyfder almisse, nyder almisse- receives alms, welfare
Omstrejfer- vagabond, tramp, vagrant
Opvaskepige- scullery maid
Overgartner- head gardener
Parcellist- holder of a small plot of land
Plovmand- ploughman, 500 kroner note
Portner- doorkeeper, porter
Positivspiller- organ grinder
Provst- rural dean
Præst, præsten- priest, the priest, clergyman, minister
Rector, Rektor- headmaster
Ritmester- captain (milit., of horse)
Rodemester- tax collector
Røver- robber, highwayman
Raadmand- councilman, alderman
Sadelmager- saddle maker
Sagfører, advokat- lawyer
Selvejer- farm owner, freeholder
Skatteopkræver- tax collector
Skibsbygger- ship builder
Skibsfører- ship master
Skibskaptajn- ship master, captian
Skifteforvalter- probate administrator, probate agent
Skoleholder- school master, teacher
Skolelærer- school master, teacher
Skorstensfejer- chimney sweep
Skovarbejder- woodman, lumberjack
Skovfoged- forester, forest ranger
Skovridere- head forester, forest ranger Skriver- scribe
Slavehandler- slave dealer
Slusemester- lock keeper
Sognefoged- sheriff, constable
Sognet- the parish
Sognepræst- parish priest, clergyman, minister
Sognepræsten- the parish priest
Soldaten- the soldier
Spillemand- musician, fiddler
Søfolk- seamen, sailors
Søkaptajn- sea captain
Teglbrænder- brick burner
Tehandler- tea dealer
Tigger, tiggerske, betler- beggar
Tingmanden- court officer
Tøffelmager- slipper maker
Uden jord- without land
Ungkarl, ungk.- bachelor
Urmager- clock or watch maker
Vanfør- crippled, disabled
Vaskekone- washwoman, laundress
Vejmand- road man, road mender
Velborn- noble, wellborn
Vinhandler- wine merchant
Vægter- night watchman
Værtshusholder- innkeeper, tavern owner
Ældste (religion)- elder (religious title)
Doctors, lawyers, ministers, and other professionals were educated in Danish schools and universities. Their organizations published biographical lists of members and sometimes histories of their groups.
There are published works for many Danish professions and occupations. Examples are:
- Carøe, Kristian.Den Danske Lægestand 1479-1900 (Danish doctors 1479-1900); København og Kristiania: Gyldendalske Boghandel og Nordisk Forlag, 1904-1922 (FHL book Scand 948.9 D3ca, film 1,440,235.)
- Dolleris, Andreas. Danmarks Boghandlere 1837 to 1892 (Danish booksellers 1837-1892); Odense: Det Milo'ske Bogtrykkeri, 1912 (FHL book Scand 948.9 D3d; film 897,409).
- Skippers and officers
See also the "Biography" section.
Trade Guild Records
In Danish society occupations were a measure of social status. Some trades were viewed as more prestigious than others. Many trades, including butchers, tanners, shoemakers, and tailors, were organized into guilds. The purpose of a guild was to provide training of apprentices and otherwise regulate the practice of the trade in the area. Not all trade persons belonged to guilds, and some could have received their training outside the guild.
Guilds were usually established in each city. The records of these guilds contain lists of members, information on journeymen practicing in the town, marriages of journeymen, and advancements from the rank of apprentice to journeyman and from journeyman to mastercraftsman. In addition, contracts between masters and parents of apprentices may be included.
These records are usually found in the city archives or in the possession of the modern guilds, provincial archives, and museums.
Research use: Names of parents and sometimes other family relationships are given, sometimes also children. Useful linkage source.
Record type: Records of merchants, craftsmen, tradesmen, skilled laborers, and persons bound by indenture to serve others for a prescribed period to learn an art or trade.
Time period: 1500 to 1850.
Contents: Names of skilled laborers, craftsmen, and apprentices; age or date of birth; place of origin and residence; family relationships; skills; etc.
Location: City and provincial archives, local museums.
Percentage in Family History Library: about 95%.
Population coverage: 5 to 10%.
The Family History Library has collected some records of some Danish guilds, especially for the larger cities. They are listed in the catalog under—
DENMARK - OCCUPATIONS
DENMARK- [COUNTY] - OCCUPATIONS
DENMARK - [COUNTY] - [CITY]- OCCUPATIONS
Types of Records
Lavsprotokoller. These include business items, accounts, may not contain much genealogical information.
Ind-og Udskrivningsbøger. These are copies of contractual agreements.
Medlemsprotokoller. These are lists of guild members.
Tidepengebøger. These are payment of guild member dues. These records are helpful in locating members residences.
Many tradesmen, both Danish and foreign-born, often moved around.
Books about guilds and occupations in Denmark may describe your ancestor's life and trade. Although the Family History Library has few books on guilds, those that are available can be very helpful. For a bibliography of the most important printed works on professions, occupations, and so forth, see the following book:
Fabritius, Albert, and Harald Hatt. Handbog i Slægtsforskning (Handbook in Genealogy). København: J. H. Schultz Forlag, 1963. (FHL book 948.9 D27fh, pages 102-131, 209-210, 223-226.)
Books and microfilms about guilds and occupations, as well as the actual guild records are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under—
DENMARK - OCCUPATIONS
DENMARK, [COUNTY] - OCCUPATIONS
DENMARK, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - OCCUPATIONS
In Denmark, a person did not become a citizen by virtue of birth. Citizenship was a valuable privilege that included:
- Rights to engage in business in a city.
- Protections under the law.
- Permission to reside in a city without being expelled.
Citizenship was extended by individual cities to some of their inhabitants, primarily those who wanted to engage in business, and did not pertain to the country as a whole.
Those who received the rights to citizenship were recorded in citizenship books [Borgerskabpprotokoller].
Borgerskabprotokoller. The earliest citizenship books in Denmark date from medieval times, but most are from later centuries. They include information such as names, ages, social and economic status, occupation and training, and sometimes birthplaces and relationships. Until the twentieth century, only males of the middle or upper classes, mostly merchants and tradesmen, were granted citizenship.
Genealogical use of citizenship books is usually limited to the time period before church records. They are also used to help trace migrations not recorded in other records. The Family History Library has obtained copies of some Danish citizenship books. They are listed in the catalog under, for example:
DENMARK, [COUNTY], [CITY] - COURT RECORDS
The original citizenship books are generally kept by the city and may be found in city archives or city halls.
- 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.