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Find Emigrant Ancestors: Copenhagen Denmark Passenger Lists

Lene Dræby Kottal, Certified Genealogist®
Find Emigrant Ancestors: Copenhagen Denmark Passenger Lists

The Copenhagen Police kept passenger lists for the ships that sailed from Copenhagen. The Danish National Archives provide images of these passenger lists at Arkivalieronline. In this blog post, you can learn how to find your Danish ancestor in a Copenhagen passenger list.

Before you start looking for your ancestor in the passenger lists, I suggest you search for your ancestors in the emigrant index and find them in the original Copenhagen Police Emigrant Registers, as explained in my two previous blog posts.

Where to Find Images of the Copenhagen Passenger Lists

The passenger lists are in a collection of various records regarding the emigrant ships. All the records can help tell the story of your emigrant ancestor, such as what they ate during the trip (lists of food supplies), whether they fell sick (doctor's reports), and how the trip went (post-arrival letter from the captain to the Danish police). Once you have found your ancestor in a passenger list, I therefore strongly encourage you to study the other records for that departure, too.

The images of the emigrant ship records are here: https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?epid=23414865#587310,91669422

The collection is divided into folders shown in the left-hand menu. Some folders contain images for more that one departure. They are named with a range of dates as in Year Month Day - Year Month Day. One of the first images usually contains an index, so you can easily see which images show the departure relevant to your ancestor's emigration.

Example: Hans Thomsen from Tved, Svendborg

I will continue using the example of Hans Thomsen from Tved, Svendborg County, as in my previous blog posts about sources for emigration. We learned in those blog posts that Hans Thomsen traveled aboard the ship Island on or shortly after 26 April 1892.

At Arkivalieronline, we can see that the folder for the ship Island's departure on 26 April 1892 only contains records for that that departure. Within that folder, there is no other way to find the passenger list than to flip the pages, but there are only 46 images in the folder, so it's a surmountable task.

The snippet below shows the headings, Hans Thomsen's listing under number 119, and my translation. Click the image to see the full page in the collection.

Passenger list from the SS Island April 1892

The number in the third column is supposed to be the contract number. However, the contact numbers listed in the passenger lists are not the same as the ones in the emigrant registers. You must examine all the information (name, age, marital status, occupation, and last residence) carefully to determine that you have found the right record.

Beware that there is often more than one passenger list for each departure as passengers from Denmark, Sweden, and other places were typically recorded on separate lists.

Many emigrant ships, which boarded passengers in Copenhagen, had begun the journey in Oslo, Norway (then called Christiana). If you have emigrant ancestors from Norway, you might find the list of passengers, who boarded in Oslo, in this collection from the Danish National Archives.

Missing Passenger Lists

Not all records have been imaged, yet, and unfortunately, some records are lost. If you cannot find the relevant departure among the images, you might be able to see in the catalog whether records from that departure are even extant. In the catalog entry, you will see a list of boxes with records sorted by date. If the button next to the relevant box says Læs arkivaliet, the records in that box have been imaged, and you can go directly to the image folder for that box by clicking the button on that line. If the button says Start bestilling, the records in that box have not yet been imaged.

Copenhagen Crew Lists for Emigrant Ships

Crew lists for emigrant ships sailing from Copenhagen are also in this collection of records. Unfortunately, the crew lists have not been indexed, so finding a crew member requires going through possibly relevant years manually.

Why Did Your Ancestor Emigrate?

My clients often want to know why their Danish ancestor emigrated. That question is not easily answered, but there are some ways of getting an idea of the reason. Come back tomorrow to read my tips for figuring out why your ancestors emigrated from Denmark.


Source References:

The image at the top of the post: Holger Damgaard, photographer, passengers for the America boat; image, the Royal Danish Library, Digital collections (http://www5.kb.dk/images/billed/2010/okt/billeder/object284127/en?id=%2Fimages%2Fbilled%2F2010%2Fokt%2Fbilleder%2Fobject284127 : accessed 15 September 2023). The photo was reportedly taken between 1900 and 1945.