The Copenhagen Historical Lifecourses Database – University of Copenhagen

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BioHistory Group > The Copenhagen Histori...

Copenhagen Historical Lifecourses Database

The Copenhagen Historical Lifecourses Database is a large-scale longitudinal database of life courses and family relationships that will link information from different types of sources for the city of Copenhagen from 1878 until 1940. It will be the backbone of research within the group, as all research projects both contribute and take advantage of the accumulated corpus of lifecourses.

Following people across sources and reconstructing partial lifecourses
The pilot project started in 2014 through the DFF-Mobilex project “A tale of two cities: inequality in death in Copenhagen and Madrid in late 19th and early 20th century” which aims at reconstructing the lives and deaths of all residents in Copenhagen between 1880 and 1885, when the city had roughly a quarter million inhabitants, to study differences in mortality.

For this period, the census information of 1880 and 1885 are linked through semi-automatic linkage routines using their personal information, to study the people that remained in the city.

Afterwards, the people not found in the 1885 census are linked with two other sources: the death certificates during the period to check whether they died and the migration records kept by the police on outbound ships leaving the port. This allow us to follow individuals from 1880 to 1885 and assess whether they still lived in the city, they had died or migrated.

Millions of images scanned and records transcribed
This endeavor, as well as the pilot project, are possible due to the wealth of digitized and transcribed sources for Copenhagen. Millions of records have already been digitized and many more are in the process of being transcribed and digitized. Census information as well as migration police records are already fully transcribed and freely available at the Danish Demographic Dataset.

Towards more, longer and richer lifecourses
The next phase will be to extend it in two ways: incorporating more lifecourses far back in time and connecting to the early 20th century by linking additional censuses and other information about lifecourses (like the Politietsregisterbladet).

On the other hand, by increasing the depth through health records (hospital deliveries and treatment records, conscript rolls, birth weights, insurance) and extending to other dimensions of interest (education records, membership, taxes, etc as well as biographic, autobiographic material and other types of material). And, finally, extending the effort to Denmark.