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Vaccinationsprotokol

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Smallpox has historically been one of the worst killers of humanity In the 18th century, smallpox was a leading cause of death in Europe and killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans each year. Although there were some earlier procedures done to help prevent smallpox, the real breakthrough was discovered by an English doctor named Edward Jenner in 1796. Jenner proved that milkmaids who had been exposed to cowpox did not contract smallpox and on 14 May 1796 successfully vaccinated an 8 year-old boy named James Phipps. The vaccination reached Denmark in 1801 when Frederick Christian Winsløw received the vaccine directly from Denmark. Around the same time, Denmark was hit by a severe smallpox epidemic and on 4 March 1810 a law was passed that required all persons to become vaccination unless they had had smallpox naturally.

When Denmark started keeping standardized forms of the parish records starting in 1812, a child’s date of vaccination was to be recorded at least on their confirmation record, but this date is sometimes recorded elsewhere such as in the moving in and moving out records or their marriage record. The vaccination date can therefore be used to confirm that two sources are indeed for the same individual.

In addition to the vaccination dates recorded in the parish records, the other way in which a person’s vaccination can help a genealogist extend a line is through the vaccination protocols recorded by the medical districts. The earliest of these protocols begin in 1802, but most begin in 1810 when the law was passed. These lists record each person’s name, age, residence, and the name of their father. Because these lists were created and stored by a separate entity, they are especially useful to those working in places where the parish records prior to 1812 are missing. The protocols can act as a substitute to the birth records in these cases. By 1811 most people were being vaccinated as small children, but in 1810 it was common for children as old as 8 to get vaccinated and some of the people on the list are even in their twenties since anyone who had never contracted smallpox was supposed to get vaccinated.

Because of this, the vaccination protocols and especially the ones for the first year in 1810 are a great source to identify missing children who were born after the 1801 census but before the parish records begin in 1812-1816 (depending on the parish). While other sources can and should also be used to supplement missing parish registers, the vaccination protocols are unique because of their near universal coverage. Military levying rolls, for example, are an excellent and commonly used source for this purpose, but they only record males born to peasants and a parent’s probate will not record any children they had had who died young. If a couple living in a place without parish records had a daughter who was born after 1801 but died before 1812, the vaccinationprotokols recorded by the medical district may well be the only source of their existence on this earth.

In order to access these vaccination protocols, the correct medical district must be known. This information will eventually be added to the wiki, but can also be obtained by using a website called www.digdag.dk. Click on “Dobbelt kort.” Using the selection box near the top left side of the map insert the desired date where it says, “Tid.” Then click, “Øvrige” and then click “Lægedistrik.” Then in the second selection box right below it also enter the desired date where it says “Tid” but then click “Kirkelig” and then “Sogn.” The map should now show all of the parishes in a green line overlayed by the medical districts in a black line. You can then zoom in on the map to where your parish is located by using the arrows on the sides of the map and the plus and minus sides on the right side. Once you have located your parish, click on it to obtain the name of the correct medical district.

The vaccination records are available at the Family History Library in SLC. Some of these have been digitized but the vast majority are only available on microfilm. To find them, go to the Family History Library catalog, click on the “Keywords” search term and type in “vaccinationsprotokol.” These should bring up the majority of them, but the protocols for Fyn have been cataloged under the plural form “vaccinationsprotokoller” and all the medical districts for Odense county have been lumped into one collection while all of them for Svendborg county have been lumped into another. To find the lists, you can also click on the following hyperlinks:

https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/results?count=20&query=%2Bkeywords%3Avaccinationsprotokol

https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/results?count=20&query=%2Bkeywords%3Avaccinationsprotokoller