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Research: Danish Ancestors
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Beginning research on Danish ancestry requires a foundation in certain basics. Before beginning research in any new locality, a fundamental appreciation of the historical background of the area is always required. Most Danish records are organized by parish, so knowing the structure and geography of the country is important to finding the correct records.

The patronymic system of naming was used throughout Denmark until nearly the end of the 19th century. Learning the techniques appropriate to research families under this system is essential to the student of Danish genealogy.

The calendar changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and the first day of the year was changed to 1 January. Some dates will be entered based on the “feast days” rather than the calendar day. These dating issues are important to finding and recording information.

Although fluent Danish is not required to research in Danish records, general genealogical terminology will be introduced.

Since genealogical research in Denmark relies heavily on church records, the new researcher should first understand how to find and use these books. From the time the Lutheran Church was established in Denmark in 1536, there have been changes in the format of the record books, but not in the essential content. In this section of the course the student will review:

  • The principle sections of parish registers and their use, including some sections which changed over time.
  • When forms became the norm, and what that means to the researcher.
  • The first section to be studied in depth will be the Index. If used by the parish, this is key to unlocking the church life of an individual, and sorting out the many duplicate names.
  • Where parish records may be accessed―online, Danish archives, and the Family History Library Catalog.


    Course Content

    Module 1
    Introduction & History
    Websites
    Introduction
     
    History of Denmark
    • Viking Era (8th-11th Century AD)
    • Danish Empire and Christianity in Denmark (c. 10th-19th Century AD)
    • After the Danish Empire (19th Century)
    • Denmark in the Modern Era (20th Century AD+)
     
    History of Religion
    • Christianity Comes to Denmark (8th-16th Century AD)
    • The Reformation (16th-20th Century AD)
    • Religion in Contemporary Denmark (20th-21st Centuries AD)
     
    Additional Reading
    Additional Websites
    Additional Reference Materials
     

    Module 2
    Geography
    Websites
    Introduction
    Geography of Denmark
     
    Denmark
    • Denmark Civil Subdivisions
    • Municipalities
    • Other Counties
     
    Schleswig-Holstein
    Greenland
    Faroe Islands
    Iceland
    About Some Place Names
     
    Parishes
    • Parish Geography
    • Maps
     
    Additional Reading
    Additional Websites
    Additional Reference Materials
     

    Module 3
    Patronymics & Naming Patterns
    Patronymics
    Female Surnames
    Naming Patterns
    Other Names
    Danish Territories
    Research Strategies for Patronymic Names
    Summary
    Additional Reading
    Additional Websites
     
    Additional Reference Materials
    • Maps
     

    Module 4
    Language, Dates & Calendars
    Websites
    Introduction
     
    Danish Alphabet and Genealogical Terminology
    • Events
     
    Calendar and Feast Days
    • The Calendar
    • Feast Days
    • Fixed Feast Days
    • Moveable Feast Days
     
    Additional Reading
    Additional Websites
    Additional Reference Materials
     

    Module 5
    Handwriting
    Websites
    Introduction
     
    Danish Paleography
    • Handwriting
    • Unique Features in Gothic Script
    • Examples
    • Learning Gothic Handwriting
     
    Additional Reading
    Additional Websites
    Additional Reference Materials
     

    Module 6
    Church Books
    Websites
    Introduction
    Early Church Books
    Search Strategies for Before Pre-Printed Parish Records
     
    Sections in the Church Books
    • Birth/Baptism/Christening (Døbte/Fødte)
    • Confirmation (Konfirmerede)
    • Marriages (Copulerede)
    • Deaths/Burials (Dødte/Begravelse)
    • Arrival Lists (Tilgangslister)
    • Departure Lists (Afgangslister)
    • Vaccinations (Vaccination)
    • Notes or Remarks (Anmærkninger, Regnskaber, Notater)
    • Index (Jævnsførelse Register)
     
    Church Books (or Parish Registers)
    • Finding Church Books
     
    Conclusion
    Additional Reading
    Additional Websites
     
    Appendix
    Danish Timeline
    Abbreviations, Definitions & Terminology
    History
    Geography
     
    Dates
    • Month (måned/måneder)
    • Seasons (sæson/årstider)

    Module (uge) & Days of the
    Module (ugedag)
    • Numbers (tal)
    • Other Words for Days (dage), Dates (dato) & Time (tid)
     
    Relationships (Slægtskabsforhold)
    Miscellaneous Terminology
     
    Bibliography
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