Genealogy Center staff and volunteers are happy to assist visitors to the museum with their family history research. Indexes to many of these resources will appear on this page.

Resources at the Genealogy Center include:

Genealogy researchers
  • Museum of Danish America Wall of Honor files
  • Danish immigrant biographical files
  • Danish-American obituary collections
  • Over 800 family histories, biographies and memoirs of Danish immigrants
  • Copenhagen Police Emigration index (1868-1911)
  • Danish-American church registers and indexes
  • Danish Brotherhood in America lodge records (1881-1995) and death indexes (1882-1995) -- see below
  • Danish maps, gazetteers and local histories
  • Bien (newspaper), 1893-present**
  • The Danish Pioneer (newspaper), 2000-present**
  • Scandinaviens Stjerne (newspaper), 1851-1900
  • Many Danish-American organizational newsletters
  • HeritageQuest Online™
  • Ancestry LibraryEdition™
  • ProQuest Obits™
  • NewspaperArchive™
  • Cemetery transcriptions
  • Indexes to Elk Horn-Kimballton and area newspapers
  • Microfilmed and print Iowa county histories
  • General genealogical reference materials
  • Handouts for getting started and suggested research resources
  • Internet workstations and wireless access
  • EmibasTM Swedish emigration database

**Digital version of these newspapers may also be viewed here.

Patrons may also rent a wide variety of microfilmed material from the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City and request that they be sent to the Genealogy Center.

Genealogy Center Research

Researching Danish-American Ancestors

Researching immigrant ancestors is done the same way as researching non-immigrants - by working backwards generation by generation from the present to the past. Collect as much information as possible on the children of the immigrants, the immigrants themselves, and any known siblings. Typical information sources on Danish Americans include the following resources:

  • death, burial, marriage, confirmation, birth and baptismal records; also marriage applications
  • obituaries and tombstone inscriptions
  • 40th or 50th anniversary newspaper articles
  • newspaper articles for ‘round’ (80, 90, 100) birthdays
  • funeral home records
  • church records (Lutheran records are especially valuable)
  • federal census information, beginning in 1940 and working backwards
  • state census information (Some states have excellent mid-decade state censuses)
  • declarations of intent and final naturalization petitions for foreign-born males over 21 (before 1920) and all foreign-born individuals after 1920. Before 1920 minor children and wives automatically became citizens when the male head of household did; children who had reached majority before then had to apply in their own names.
  • county and town histories in the area(s) of settlement
  • Danish Brotherhood Records (found at the Genealogy Center and at the Danish Immigrant Archives & Library at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska)
  • Social Security applications
  • WWI and WWII draft registration records
  • land records, including homestead files
  • online sources, such as the Ellis Island passenger arrival records (NYC arrivals 1892-1924), and the USGenWeb for the area(s) in which family members lived

Once the above materials have been checked, family documents such as correspondence (including letters, postcards, diaries, or photographs from relatives in Denmark) can help to form a picture of when immigrants came to this country, where they settled, and often where they came from.

The Genealogy Center has an experienced and dedicated group of researchers who will be happy to answer questions. To request paid research see the Translations and Research Services page.

Church Books

The Genealogy Center has copies of church books from both Danish Lutheran and some Baptist congregations in print, microform and digital formats. Below is a geographical listing of our current holdings for various congregations. Information about how to request searches of particular church books may be found on our Translations and Research Services page. Click here to see church book holdings. Note: DELC = Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church, LC = Lutheran Church, etc.

Indexes to Biographical Sketches of Danish Immigrants 

Much useful biographical material is hidden in periodicals and Danish-language books about immigrants to North America that are not widely accessible. The indexes below may help you locate some of this elusive material about ancestors or relatives. The biographical sketches may be long or just a few lines; those having an accompanying photograph of the individual are marked with an ‘I’ in the Image column.

Copies and translations of biographical references may be obtained by sending a request to the Museum of Danish America Genealogy Center, PO Box 249, Elk Horn IA 51531, citing the name of the person, the source and page number for each. The charge per citation is $10, payable to Museum of Danish America.

Danske i California Index

Danske i California og California historie: beretninger om de danskes liv og virke fra de tidligste pioner dage, by Sophus Hartwick. 2 vols. (San Francisco, 1939)

*Click to view PDF

Danske i Amerika Index

Danske i Amerika. 2 vols (Minneapolis and Chicago: 1908,1916)

*Click to view PDF

North American Recipients of Scandinavian Medals

A listing of U.S. and Canadian residents on whom the Order of Dannebrog or other royal Danish medals have been bestowed. Medals from other Scandinavian countries have been noted when known. Please send additions or amendments with documentation to the Genealogy Center.

Genealogy Links

For useful books and other items of interest to genealogists visit our Design Store.

Help and inquiries:

Danish-language inquiries: contact Library Manager: Michele McNabb

For a brief list of some common Danish genealogical terms, click on "G is for Genealogy."

Read the Winter 2014 edition of "Of Genealogical Interest" here.

Helpful Facts

Be aware that many Danish immigrants Americanized their names, and consequently their original names in Denmark may have been different. One must have some idea of what the original names were before searching in Danish records. This is sometimes simple (Jørgen and Marie/Maren often became Jorgen and Mary in North America), but is sometimes more difficult to figure out (Jørgen changed to George, Kjeldgaard to Kelgor; Østerbro to Easterbridge, Bruhn to Brown). In addition, not all family members may have kept the same surname or surname spelling.
Prior to about 1850 many Danish surnames were patronymic and not ‘fixed,’ particularly in rural areas, and most women kept their birth names throughout life until late in the 19th century. In addition, there are 3 Danish letters not found in English - æ, ø and å (commonly found as ‘aa’ in older records) – which get rendered in various ways in English.

Websites for Genealogical Research

General Sites

Emigration & Immigration

Danish-American Genealogy and History


Research in Denmark:

Danish websites usually require the correct Danish spelling of place- and personal names. The following is a key for making the three Danish letters of the alphabet not found in English on many PCs: Hold down the Alt key (or Fn+Alt on many laptops) + the following 4-digit numbers:

Danish Letter Keyboard Code
Æ alt + 0198
æ alt + 0230
Ø alt + 0216
ø alt + 0248
Å alt + 0197
å alt + 0229

General sites

Some Regional Sites (note: many of these pages are in Danish only)

Slesvig-Holsten/Schleswig-Holstein Sites (see also General Sites above)

Geographical Sources and Maps; Property Resources

  • Amt-herred-sogn — Clickable listing and map of parishes and their locations by district & county from 1793 to 1970 (in English).
  • Digitized Aerial Photographs — A listing of accessible collections.
  • — Based on Google Maps, but incorporating features from other map sources.
  • Geodatastyrelsen — Detailed historical and newer maps, plus plat maps.
  • Google Maps — Google search and Google maps are also useful tools for finding historical and current maps.
  • Historical Danish Atlases — Information on officially registered grave monuments, comparative maps dating back to 1585, and aerial maps of localities.
  • Kortal — Site for comparison maps and aerial maps, 1954-2012.
  • Kortpaanettet/Kvikssoeg — A site for locating specific addresses in Denmark, finding their location, as well as present-day and historical maps of an area, and land ownership maps by property tax (matrikel) numbers (in Danish).
  • Krabsen — Over 40,000 Danish place names with their location in parish, district and pre-1970 county + modern locations.
  • Krak — Online Danish maps.
  • Local and Regional Danish Archives — Map of current Danish administrative areas leading to contact information for many local and regional archives (in Danish, click on map to view area information).
  • — Contains property information and history based on the land plat (matrikel) number or address.
  • The Aalborg Encyclopedia — Maps, street names, and other useful information about Aalborg.


Finding living relatives

Planning a visit to Denmark