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Early 19th Century Birth Record from a Danish Rural Parish

Lene Dræby Kottal
Early 19th Century Birth Record from a Danish Rural Parish

Danish birth records are primarily found in church records from The Church of Denmark, which is a Christian church. The vikings gradually turned Christian in the 10th century. At least since then, Denmark has been divided into parishes. Until 1849, a parish was an area whose inhabitants attended the same church, the parish church. In my previous post, I scrutinized a birth record from a market town. In this post, I will show an example from a rural parish.

As shown in my previous post, my second great-grandmother's brother, Niels Frederik Hansen, was born in the market town Odense in 1853. Like most markets towns, Odense was divided into several parishes. Niels Frederik Hansen's mother, Ane Marie Klaus Datter  was born in the rural town Vejrup in 1824. A rural town was not divided into more parishes. Ane Marie Klaus Datter and her parents and siblings attended Ubberud Church (the church in the photo above) along with inhabitants from Ubberud town and other small towns and villages surrounding Ubberud Church.


Identifying place names

Apart from trying to distinguish the personal names from the rest of the text in a Danish birth record, one of the challenges is to figure out the place name. I primarily use two different aids for that when I work with records from a parish with which I am unfamiliar. First, I use the Danish Wikipedia, which has a page for each of Denmark's parishes listing all the towns and other place names within each parish. At the Danish Wikipedia, you must search for the name of the parish followed by the word "sogn" which is Danish for "parish." A search for "Ubberud Sogn" shows an alphabetically sorted list of thirty-two place names, including Vejrup where Ane Marie Klaus Datter was born. Although you probably do not understand what the sentences on the rest of the page mean, you can use this tip to find the place names of all Danish parishes, because the Wikipedia pages for Danish parishes are all structured in the same way - with a list of all the place names of that parish.

The lists of place names at Wikipedia can pose a problem: They only show today's place names and today's spelling of the place names. I have revealed what the place of residence of Ane Marie Klaus Datter's parents was, but if you have a look at the snippet of the record below, you might be able to see that the place name is actually spelled Veÿrúp (click the image to see the full page).1 

 You could start guessing which place name at the Wikipedia list fits best, but guesses are best avoided. Instead you can turn to a tool called DigDag, which is a digital atlas of the historic administrative geography of Denmark. The site is only in Danish, but it is relatively simple to use. In the left-hand side of the search page there is a text box which is pre-filled with the place name Hulebækgård. Delete that place name and type "Veyrup" leaving out the diacritics. This search will turn up one result, namely the place name Vejrup. In the middle section of the page, you can click a plus sign to expand the result and see all the information about Vejrup. The details show various spellings with references to where that spelling was used. The last line in the details is written in blue and I recommend that you always check this line to see if you have identified the correct place. As in other countries, the same place name can occur several times in Denmark. The final words of the blue line tells us the name of the parish ("Ubberud s.") and the hundred ("Odense h.") and since this matches that of the birth record, we can finally conclude that the place was indeed Vejrup.


Sentence Structure

In my previous post, I showed a record with the most common sentence structure:

Occupation - personal names - place name.

The vicar used a different structure when he wrote the details about the parents of Ane Marie Klaus Datter:

Occupation - place name - personal names.

If one does not understand Danish, it can be hard to figure out the names, when the structure differs. The trick is to check for a small "i" or the word "af" immediately after the occupation. These words mean "in" and "of" respectively and thus indicate that the second piece of information is the place name rather than the names of the parents.

The knowledge of sentence structure from this and my previous post can also be used to break down the information in confirmation, marriage and death records.


Source references:

  1. Ubberud Sogn, Odense Herred, Odense Amt, Kirkebøger [parish registers], vicar's copy 1814-1829, folio 54, no. 13; digital images, Sall Data, "1814-1829 FKVDJTA (KM)" (http://ao.salldata.dk/vis1.php?bsid=181777&side=57 : accessed 7 September 2017).

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