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Find the birth record

In this case study I will demonstrate the task of finding the birth record for a specific person. A very common task for a genealogist, but sometimes trickier than you think.

The only known data is what was given on the 1834 national census:

Peder Pedersen 34 years old married    wheeler
Ane Madsdatter 28 years old married his wife
Mads Pedersen 6 years old   their child
Peder Pedersen 4 years old   their child
Ane Dorthe Pedersen 1 year old   their child
Niels Pedersen 1 year old   their child
Ane Rasmusdatter 58 years old widow mother-in-law of the head of the household,
is provided for by him

Source reference: Krogsbølle Sogn (Skam Herred, Odense Amt, Denmark), Folketælling [census] 1834, page 50, household 18; digital image, AO Genvej (http://ao.salldata.dk : accessed May 31, 2017).

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I had to find out where he was born…

Peder Pedersen’s birth place was unknown, because birth place was not recorded at the 1834 census.

My client had tried to find the birth in Krogsbølle parish, but gave up, because he also didn’t know the name of Peder’s parents. Migration between neighboring parishes was quite common, so I wanted to be sure about the place of birth, before I started looking through birth records. Due to my experience I know that the 1845 census states birth place, so I found the family in the 1845 census.

Peder Pedersen 44 years old born in this parish    married    wheeler
Ane Madsdatter 39 years old born in this parish    married his wife
Mads Pedersen 14 years old born in this parish   their child
Peder Pedersen 12 years old born in this parish   their child
Dorothea Pedersen 9 years old born in this parish   their child
Hans Madsen 34 years old born in this parish    single carpenter apprentice
Ane Rasmusdatter 69 years old born in Aaby parish    widow mother-in-law of the head of the household, is provided for by him

Source reference: Krogsbølle Sogn (Skam Herred, Odense Amt, Denmark), Folketælling [census] 1845, page 65, household 57.

Peder’s last name was Pedersen, and due to my knowledge of the Danish naming customs I could conclude that the first name of Peder’s father was also Peder. Judging by Peder’s recorded age at the two censuses, the year of his birth was about 1800/1801. When skimming through birth records in Krogsbølle parish I found 2 possible records in the year 1800. The recorded age in censuses is often unreliable, so to be sure that all possibilities were considered, I would have had to look through at least years 1799-1802, which would probably give even more possible births. A different approach had to be used, because I did not know the full names of the parents.

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…and his marriage

Knowing the birth place of Peder Pedersen’s wife (recorded at the 1845 census), I almost certainly knew the place of their marriage.

By law, marriages had to be conducted in the home parish of the bride, unless special permission was given to conduct it elsewhere. Furthermore, before the middle of the 20th century most couples were married before they had their first child. From the 1834 census data, it can be ascertained that the first known child of Peder Pedersen was born in about 1828. By going through the marriage records in Krogsbølle (starting in 1828 and going backwards) I found the marriage of Peder and Ane in 1826:

The groom: Peder Pedersen, 24 years old, smallholder in Gundstrup.
The bride: Ane Madsdatter, 19 years old, daughter of smallholder Mads Jensen, residing in Gundstrup.
Married on 29 April 1826 in the church.
Witnesses: Smallholder Hans Zachariasen and tenant Jørgen Andersen, both in Agernæs.
Remarks: The groom is vaccinated in 1802 on 25 September by surgeon Boch in Bogense. The bride is vaccinated in 1807 on 17 February by the minister Mr. Schmidt in Mesinge. Both according to their certificates.

Source reference: Krogsbølle Sogn (Skam Herred, Odense Amt, Denmark), Kirkebøger [church books], 1813-1828, page 109, entry 6; digital image, AO Genvej (http://ao.salldata.dk : accessed May 31, 2017).

The vaccination data (against the smallpox virus) is the only new data which is given about Peder in the marriage record. However, when trying to find someone in the mid-1800s, vaccination data is often very helpful. Back then the vaccination data had to be recorded in the confirmation record, which in turn would reveal more about Peder.

As a side note, I want to mention that marriage records from this period provide the name of the father of the bride, but not the name of the father of the groom. At that time, women were not considered to be independent individuals, so whenever anything was recorded about women, the name of some male relative was always stated along with the name of the woman. However, since a man was considered to be an independent individual from the time of his confirmation, the name of Peder’s father was not recorded in the marriage record.

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Finding his confirmation record

Until 1849, Christian confirmation was required by law and usually took place when the person was 14-16 years old, so I went through years 1814-1818 looking for a Peder Pedersen with the correct vaccination data.

There was only one match:

Peder Pedersen in Agernæs.
Father: Peder Pedersen Post in Agernæs.
14 1/4 y.o., christened on 31 January 1802.
Mediocre knowledge, good behaviour.
Vaccinated 1802 on 25 September by surgeon Boock in Bogense.

Source reference: Krogsbølle Sogn (Skam Herred, Odense Amt, Denmark), Kirkebøger [church books], 1813-1828, page 54, entry 13.

By finding Peder Pedersen in the 1845 census, his marriage record and his confirmation record, I had found his place of birth, his birth date and the name of his father. After that, I could easily find his christening record.

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At last, the christening of Peder Pedersen

Using my knowledge about which kind of information the Danish sources contain, I could now find the requested data.

1802. On 31 January, the forth Sunday after Epiphany, Peder Pedersen and wife Dorthe Hansdatter in Agernæs their son was christened and called Peder; was carried by Willum Christensen’s wife from Husemøllen. Godparents were: Pofvel Jensen, Hans Pedersen, Peder Jespersen and Hans Zachariasen, all from Agernæs.

Source reference: Krogsbølle Sogn (Skam Herred, Odense Amt, Denmark), Kirkebøger [church books], 1800-1814, Denmark, unpaginated, "Den 31te Januarii."

I found the requested data, primarily because I used my knowledge about which kind of information the Danish sources contain through the years, but also because I didn’t allow myself to get stuck, when the first and most obvious approach failed to produce a positive result.

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Dedicated and reliable researcher

I rarely have to give up on finding some information and it nags me when that happens. I cannot guarantee that I can find anything for you, but I can guarantee that I will do my best and that whatever I do find will be well-documented. I always start by doing a free preliminary search and you are not obliged to place an order no matter what I find during that search, so what is stopping you from contacting me right now?