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The Genealogical Value of Vaccination Records

Lene Dræby Kottal
The Genealogical Value of Vaccination Records

Vaccination against smallpox was mandatory in Denmark from 1810.1 The first vaccination record books (vaccinationsprotokoller) look a lot like census records, because children of all ages who had not had smallpox, were vaccinated during the months following the law about vaccinations.

The vaccination record books kept by the parish ministers contain a list of the vaccination certificates, which were shown to the parish minister. Records vary from place to place, but they typically list the following information for each entry:

  • Name of the person being vaccinated
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Birthplace
  • Name of the father, or of the mother, if the child was born out of wedlock
  • Residence
  • Date of the certificate
  • Name of the physician
  • Date of the vaccination

Information form census records are often used as evidence for parent-child relationships, but Denmark did not carry out any national censuses from 1801 to 1834. Information from the earliest vaccination records can provide evidence to help resolve various research questions, for instance questions related to parent-child relationships.

Jens Bech from Ugildgaardene in Lillevorde Parish, Aalborg County

Lillevorde Sogn (Aalborg Amt), vaccinations, 1810.

An 1810 list of vaccinations in Lillevorde Parish shows six children of "Jens Bech" from Ugildgaardene:2

  1. Laurs, 13 years old => estimated birth year 1797
  2. Christen, 9 years old => estimated birth year 1801
  3. Anders, 7 years old => estimated birth year 1803
  4. Else, 6 years old => estimated birth year 1804
  5. Anders, 3 years old => estimated birth year 1807
  6. Maren, ¾ years old => estimated birth year 1809

The parish register for Lillevorde from years 1797 to 1810 shows the following children of a man named Jens Bech:

  1. Lars, born 25 April 1797.3
  2. Christen, born 24 June 1801.4
  3. Anders, born 16 October 1802.5
  4. Anders, born 29 August 1807.6
  5. Maren, born 6 October 1809.7

In the birth records for the children Lars and Christen, the father’s name was recorded as Jens Larsen Bech.

The same parish register shows a child named Else, born 2 January 1804 to "Jens Larsen," without the name Bech.8 The list of vaccinations provides evidence for Jens Larsen Bech being the father of all six children.


Source References

  1. Forordning for Danmark og Norge, angaaende Vaccinationen [order for Denmark and Norway about the vaccination] (Copenhagen, Denmark: 3 April 1810).
  2. Lillevorde Sogn (Fleskum Herred, Aalborg Amt), vaccinationsprotokol, 1810-1870, entries 11-16; image copy, Sall Data, AO genvej (http://ao.salldata.dk/vis1.php?bsid=346859&side=3 : accessed 27 March 2020), image 3 of 23.
  3. Gudum-Lillevorde Sogne (Fleskum Herred, Aalborg Amt), enesteministerialbog [parish register, only copy], 1684-1812, Fødde udi Lilleworde Sogn [births in Lilleworde parish], 1797: entry for Lars (25 April); image copy, Sall Data, AO genvej (http://ao.salldata.dk/vis1.php?bsid=163027&side=153 : accessed 27 March 2020), image 153 of 179.
  4. Ibid., 1801: entry for Christen (24 June); image 153.
  5. Ibid., 1802: entry for Anders (16 October); image 155.
  6. Ibid., 1807: entry for Anders (29 August); image 157.
  7. Ibid., 1809: entry for Maren (6 October); image 175.
  8. Ibid., 1804: entry for Else (2 January); image 155.