Many people have a great interest in their Danish heritage and roots. This interest leads many people to join the Danish Sisterhood of America to learn about this wonderful culture that we share as Viking descendants. Our members are often inspired at some point to trace their Danish heritage to find out where in Denmark their family is from, to find out when and why they might have immigrated, and to connect themselves with their rich family history and sometimes even long-lost relatives in Denmark. This is completely understandable; Denmark is made of hundreds of islands with unique subcultures and histories unto themselves, making each family’s story very unique. Though it can take some time and some research, genealogy, even for the novice, can be accessible and attainable for most.
Denmark is the smallest of the Scandinavian nations, but our people have a long and well-documented history. We are lucky that with modern technology a lot of information is available at your fingertips online. Though the Danish Sisterhood of America does not offer professional genealogical research services, we can share with you how to begin tracing your Danish heritage and online resources to assist you in your search.
1. Start with the person you know the most about: you! Then, work backwards by conducting individual or group family interviews. Begin with living relatives and work back in time. Contact your family members via personal visits, phone calls, letters, or email. Ask relatives if they know about or have any family Bibles, photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, obituaries, letters, family records (birth, death, and marriage certificates, wills, land deeds, property titles, war records, ship passenger lists, etc...). Use genealogical/family interview questions to get started and if possible, record the interview with the person’s permission.
2. Complete a Family Group Sheet (http://www.ancestry.com/trees/charts/familysheet.aspx) and Pedigree Chart (http://www.ancestry.com/charts/ancchart.aspx) starting with you. It is helpful, but not necessary, to use a software program such as Family Tree Maker (www.familytreemaker.com). Always document your sources including the name and contact information for people who gave you the information and the name of any publication used along with the publication information. Use the standard genealogical format for recording information and use a workbook to keep everything organized.
Organize your workbook by using a large 3-ring binder. Put the Pedigree Chart in the front of the workbook. Behind the Pedigree Chart, use a color coded divider tab for each generation. The first tab will be for your generation and your immediate family’s information, and you would be considered the last generation. The last tab in your workbook will be the oldest ancestor you’ve found and they would be considered the first generation. For example: Ditte OLSEN is the daughter of Frederik OLSEN, who is the son of Johanne OLSEN (nee Andersen). Ditte would be in the first tab, as the 3rd generation. Ditte’s father (Far), Frederik, would be in the 2nd tab as the 2nd generation, and Ditte’s grandmother (Farmor), Johanne, would be in the 3rd tab, as the 1st generation. In each tab section, complete information for their entire immediate family they were born into should be listed, including siblings. So, using our example, Frederik’s three siblings would be listed on the Family Group Sheet with their parents, Johanne ANDERSEN (don’t use her married name of Olsen, she was born as Andersen), and Kristian OLSEN in the 2nd tab.
If you still need assistance in piecing together your family history, there are professional genealogists who can assist you. We recommend consulting with your local genealogical or historical society to get a good recommendation or finding a Genealogist through the Association of Professional Genealogists in the link above. We wish you much success in your personal journey of family discovery!