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Going Abroad: When Did Your Danish Ancestor Emigrate?

Lene Dræby Kottal
Going Abroad: When Did Your Danish Ancestor Emigrate?

An immigrant was also an emigrant, so in this post I will show you where you can find Danish emigration records. Where there is money to be gained, there are scammers. This was also the case with sales of tickets to adventurous Danes, who intended to go abroad. To minimize the risk of Danes being scammed, the Danish government passed a law on 1 May 1868, by which all ticket sales by agents in Denmark to overseas destinations had to be approved by the Copenhagen Police. The police recorded details from the tickets in emigrant registers. These books are extant, and records from 1868 to 1920 are indexed.

Index of the Emigrant Registers from the Copenhagen Police

My great-grandmother's brother Rudolf Lambert Söderlund emigrated in 1906.1 I found him in the index of the Danish emigrant registers at https://www.aalborgstadsarkiv.dk/UA.asp?UA=UAProtokol. It is not possible to make a deep link to a search result on this page, so be sure to cite identified entries with as many details as needed.

Rudolf Søderlund in the Index of the Danish Emigrant Register 1906

To the far right of each search result is the name of the ship, if it was recorded. Rudolf had a ticket to the SS Oscar II. Many Danes traveled via German or British ports, which was called an indirekte (indirect) passage. In that case, the name of the ship was not recorded, and you will see the word indirekte instead of the name of the ship - as shown in the example with Magnus Nielsen below.2

Magnus Nielsen in the Index of the Danish Emigrant Register 1891

The original records have been transcribed in full, so you will not find more information in the original record. However, we all know that transcription errors do occur, so it is advisable to examine the original. The Danish National Archives are in the process of digitizing the registers, and many ar already online at the image portal Arkivalieronline. If you find a person of interest in the index, and there is a book icon in the first column of the search result, like in the Magnus Nielsen example, the register has most likely been digitized. The book icon is a link that leads to the first image in the digitized collection. Then you have to find the right register and page yourself.

How to Find Your Ancestor in the Original Emigrant Register

Each Emigrant Register is subdivided by surname on alphabet tabs. On each tab, the sequence is chronological.

  1. Open the collection with the register that covers the year the person emigrated per the index. Most registers cover more than one year.
  2. Flip pages until you find the right alphabet tab, meaning the one with the beginning letter of the emigrant's surname.
  3. Focus on the second to last column with the heading Forevisnings-Dato (when the ticket was shown to the police) to find the date where your person of interest showed their ticket, per the index.
  4. Find the right record in the register under that date. Several tickets may have been shown on the same day.
  5. Save the record and write a citation for your files, so you can find it again, if needed.

A snippet of the page showing Magnus Nielsen's original record is shown below.

Magnus Nielsen in the Original Emigrant Register 1891, Denmark

The emigrant registers from the Copenhagen Police do not list all Danish emigrants. If the ticket was bought by a foreign agent, the agent did not have to have the ticket sale approved, and then the passenger is not listed in these records. Furthermore, separate lists of Mormon emigrants were kept from 1873 to 1894.

Index of the Emigration Records from the Mouritzen Brothers in Vejle

Although Denmark is a small country, the need for an authority to approve tickets in the western part of Denmark quickly arose. The Mouritzen brothers in Vejle were authorized emigration agents for the Hamburg-America Line from 1879 to 1897. The passengers in their lists are not in the lists of the Copenhagen Police. The lists are called Vejle-listerne and they have also been indexed.

Vejle-listerne do not list place of birth, but only residence at the time of the ticket purchase. The original records are kept at the Viborg department of the Danish National Archives.

Need Professional Assistance?

I have identified many Danish emigrants for their descendants in the United States, Canada and Australia. If you need professional assistance for finding your Danish ancestors, you can book a free planning call. If not, you are still welcome to follow my blog for tips about Danish genealogy.

Happy hunting!


Source references:

  1. "Udvandrerprotokollen," database, Det Danske Udvandrerarkiv [The Danish Emigration Archive] (https://www.aalborgstadsarkiv.dk/UA.asp?UA=UAProtokol : accessed 8 June 2024), entry for Rudolf Søderlund, ticket no. 635 shown on "8/3 1906;" no reference to the source of the information.
  2. "Udvandrerprotokollen," database, Det Danske Udvandrerarkiv (https://www.aalborgstadsarkiv.dk/UA.asp?UA=UAProtokol : accessed 8 June 2024), entry for Magnus Nielsen, ticket no. 239 shown on 11/2 . Jane Sørensen, The Danish Emigration Archives, to Lene Dræby Kottal, e-mail, 14 November 2018, "Kopi af en side fra udvandrerprotokollen;" privately held by Kottal, 2019.
  3. The image at the top of the post: SS Oscar II photography, date unknown, Chr. Cato's litografiske Etablissement, Copenhagen.