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19th Century Birth Record from a Danish Market Town

Lene Dræby Kottal
19th Century Birth Record from a Danish Market Town

Since 1646, Folkekirken (the Church of Denmark) has been obliged to keep records of births, which took place in the Danish parishes. No secular registration of births takes place in Denmark, except in Southern Jutland. A few other religions have obtained the right to keep records for the members of their congregation, but the vast majority of births are recorded by Folkekirken. When searching for Danish birth records, the place to start is therefore the parish registers, also called church books.



The Danish National Archives have made digital images of parish registers with birth records from before 1961. No fees are charged for accessing the records kept by this archive. The records are available at the website of the archive, however, they are also available at other websites such as AO Genvej, which is the one I prefer using.


Birth Record from 1853

The image below is a snippet from a parish register from Vor Frue Parish in Odense, Denmark. There are several parishes in Odense, because it is a relatively large town. Most parishes cover an entire town and its surrounding villages.

This snippet shows the birth record of my second great-grandmother's brother, Niels Frederik Hansen.1 The full image can be seen at AO Genvej by clicking the image.

Since 1814, the registrars had to use books with preprinted headings, which makes finding the relevant record a lot easier. The headings vary slightly over time, as more information was required, but the sequence of the information has not changed much over the years.


Transcription and Translation

Preprinted words in bold and translation after the double slash.

1853 Fødte Mandkjøn. // 1853 Born Males.

No. 22 // No. 22

Aar og Datum. Født 5. Marts 1853 // Year and Date. Born 5 March 1853

Barnets fulde Navn. Niels Frederik Hansen // Full name of the child. Niels Frederik Hansen

Daabens Datum, enten i Kirken eller hjemme. I Kirken den 7de August 1853 // Date of the baptism, either at church or at home. At church on 7th August 1853

Forældrenes Navn, Stand, Haandtering og Bopæl. Bødker Hans Christian Hansen og hustru Anne Marie Clausen Sctjørgensgade 28 Aaar // Name, social status, occupation and residence of the parents. Cooper Hans Christian Hansen and wife Anne Marie Clausen Sctjørgensgade 28 years old

Faddernes Navn, Stand og Opholdssted. Tjenestep Marie Petersen Overgade. Jfr Juliane Marie Eriksen Skræppestr. Sæbesvend G. Gundersen Nedergade. Bryggerk. Henning Hansen Torvet. Tjenestek. Ras. Andersen Munkemøllegade. // Name, social position and residence of the godparents. Servant Marie Petersen Overgade. Maiden Juliane Marie Eriksen Skræppestr. Trained soap maker G. Gundersen Nedergade. Brewer's hand Henning Hansen Torvet. Servant Ras. Andersen Munkemøllegade.

Hvor anført i det almindelige Jevnførelses-Register. Fol. 296 Nr. 12. // Where recorded in the regular index. Fol. 296 No. 12 

Anmærkninger. // Remarks. [blank field]


Breakdown of the information

Niels Frederik Hansen was born on 5 March 1853 and baptized in the church on 7 August the same year.

The details about parents and godparents were often written using the same structure. Each person's occupation or social position (marked in yellow below) usually preceded the name. Residence (marked in blue below) was recorded after the names, but when several individuals resided in the same place, it was often only written after the last person residing at that place.

1853 church book snippet: Parents and godparents

The parents were cooper "Hans Christian Hansen" and his wife "Anne Marie Clausen," who resided at Skt. Jørgensgade (the present spelling). Since this record is from a parish in a town with street names, the street name was recorded as residence. In most records, only the name of the town or village was recorded.

The age recorded in the field about the parents, is the age of the mother. Some years after the creation of this record, the age of the mother was required information.

Spelling was in many cases a matter of personal preference. For instance, in this record the mother's patronymic was spelled with a C. In her own birth record, it was spelled with a K. The mother was born in a rural parish in 1824. The sentence structure in that record is a little different than in this one. I will go through the mother's birth record in my next post. In that post, I will also give a few tips for figuring out the place name when you have only little knowledge of the area.


Source references:

  1. Vor Frue Sogn, Odense Købstad, Odense Herred, Odense Amt, Kirkebøger [parish registers], vicar's copy with births and index 1852-1863, folio 17, no. 22; digital images, Sall Data, "1852-1863 FJ (KM)" (http://ao.salldata.dk/vis1.php?bsid=180709&side=21 : accessed 5 September 2017).