Using Witnesses to Find the Next Generation in Denmark

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Sometimes, finding the next generation can be very difficult. Depending on the circumstances, witness research can be a vital strategy in overcoming the brick wall. The majority of witnesses at a christening are usually some sort of relative of the parents. Witness research is, in a way, a back door for finding the next generation. Follow these steps for conducting witness research.

Case Studies

Case Study 1

Case Study 2

Case Study 3

Step 1: What Do You Know[edit | edit source]

The first step in witness research is to determine what you already know. Before beginning research, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What information do I have? How accurate is that information?
  2. Are there any living relatives that would already have the information?
  3. Are there secondary sources (such as online Family Trees and Biographies) that would have the information? What have others found?

Whatever information you find, make sure to document where you found that information. Also, make sure to determine whether the information found is merely family hearsay or if it came from original records.

Step 2: Gather Christenings of All Children[edit | edit source]

Once you know what has been done, the next step is gathering christening records. Let's say you have Father A and Mother B, and you are trying to find the parents of Father A. The first step you need to do is gather the christening records of every child born to the couple. Listed on each child's christening record are the witnesses that will be needed for witness research. You want to gather the christening records of every child because each child will have different (and similar) witnesses along with information about each witness.

Step 3: Extract Information[edit | edit source]

The third step is to extract the information found on each christening record. This includes:

  1. The name of each witnesses (even if it says Lars Larsen's wife),
  2. The place of residence of each witness
  3. Any descriptive information that may be list (such as occupation, titles, relations, etc.)
  4. Make a note as to which christening record the witness was found in and the year of the record
  5. Any other information that may be listed.

Step 4: Analyze[edit | edit source]

Once you have extracted all of the information, analyze what you have found.

  • Do any of the witnesses have the same surname as Father A?
  • Do any of the witnesses show up in multiple christenings records?
  • Are there any key words given (such as faster = father's sister, Mandens moder = the man's mother, etc.)
  • Do the majority of the witnesses come from the same village?

As you analyze the information, you will notice clues that may either be the parents of Father A or some other relative.

Step 5: Research the Witnesses[edit | edit source]

The final step is to research the witnesses that you deem to be possible relatives. One of the quickest ways to begin the research is to find the witness in the nearest census. This step may take a while but it always pays off in the end.

Step 6: What Records Can I Use in Witness Research?
[edit | edit source]

  1. Church Records: In order to do witness research, you will need to use the Danish national church records. Nearly all of the Danish church records have been digitized and made available online for free. See the article Digitized Danish Records Online - Arkivalieronline
  2. Censuses: Use Censuses to discover who each witness may be. Censuses not only give a picture of the family as it was at the time the census was taken, but also provide information about where they lived in the city.
  3. Probates: Usually, after a person died, a probate was conducted in order to pay the deceased's debts and distribute what was left to the heirs. These records will usually list when the deceased passed away. If not, usually the probate date is close to the death date.
  4. Civil Registration: Although civil registration did not become a major record source until the 20th century, and was only available in a few areas of Denmark, they are a very useful record. Often the civil registration records will contain more information on the deceased individual than the church records .

If you still cannot find your ancestor in the city, try the following records:

  1. Military Levying Rolls: If an ancestor was still included in the military rolls when they died, their name will usually be crossed out and a death date written in the notes column.
  2. Court Records: There are many different court records and they may not necessarily record vital information, but they can give clues. For example, if the ancestor was murdered, there may be a court proceeding that records the circumstances surrounding the death.
  3. Cemeteries: Like all cemeteries, you can usually find the death information of the individual on the headstone. However, it is important to note that in Denmark, a person only remains buried while the family pays for the grave upkeep. When there is no one left to pay for the upkeep, the body and headstone are usually removed and taken to the catacombs or crematorium. The headstone is usually recycled.

Step 7: What's next?[edit | edit source]

If you need additional guidance, consult some of these other strategies:

   How to Find Information for Danish Ancestors

1. Getting Started
2. Birth Information
3. Marriage Information
4. Death Information
5. Place of Origin in Denmark
6. Moving within Denmark

7. Emigration information
8. Immigration information
9. Using witnesses to find the next generation
10. Families in Sønderjylland (Southern Denmark)
11. City People and Research
12. Miscellanious

References[edit | edit source]