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Births, Marriages and Deaths

Births and Baptisms in Parish Registers

All births in the parish registers are recorded chronologically, after 1814 often separate for each gender and with the year listed at the top of each page. The specific entry usually start by listing the birth date (day and month) and the name of the child. This is followed by the baptismal date (whether in the church or at home). Next comes information on the parents; the occupation of the father, the father's name, the mother's maiden name and their place of residence, e.g. the name of a village or farmstead. Many registers also contains information on the mother's age at birth. Last entries are about the baptismal witnesses and possible notes (e.g. a date of vaccination).

Entries on male births in a parish register

The information found in the birth register enables the researcher to go back one generation further, by trying to locate the parents birth from the name and the approximate year of birth. The most obvious second steps are however to locate the entire family in the following census or to locate the marriage of the parents in the preceding years, and afterwards confirming these information in the parish registers.

Children born out of wedlock

In case of "an illegitimate child", the mother is recorded first, followed by the alleged father. Only few entries are noted with the word ["uægte"]. All parishioners were usually personally known to the vicar so all children where recorded in the birth register and it is unlikely for any births not to have been recorded. A mother was penalized for failing to name the alleged father.

The full record may reveal important information

Some of the information recorded in the parish registers you will only find if you are working with the full record, e.g. a copy on microfiche or microfilm. You may find relatives and close friends of the family as witnesses or perhaps an important place name; information which might give you important leads to your further research. When working with online transcripts, e.g. from, you should be aware that most of leave this additional—and sometimes important—information out for various reasons, often listing only names and dates.

Birth certificates

Some researchers may want to search for birth certificates of their ancestors. In most cases birth certificates have been issued to the child's parents. These were made uniquely, so if it is lost, a copy cannot be obtained. However a copy of the specific entry in the parish register, similar to the example above, can always be made.

A few numbers and facts...

  • 500,000

    ...Danes emigrated up to 1968, and of these about 70% departed for the USA. In the 1800's alone a vast majority of 90% went to the USA. Read more...

  • 261,065

    This many individuals, comprising of 4.6 percent of all Danes, carries the surname JENSEN followed by NIELSEN, HANSEN, PEDERSEN and ANDERSEN. Read more...

  • 1,000

    Of the 5,000 basic words in modern English, as many as 20 percent are so-called loan words from the Old Norse language (ON). Read more...

  • 1769

    This year the first Danish census was taken. The next censuses were taken in 1787 and 1801 and from 1834 onwards every 5-10 years. Read more...

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