Records are necessary when we research our ancestry, but images of many records look pretty much the same in print, so they do not add much spark to a family history book. Furthermore, the exciting details about our ancestors often come from other sources.
In this blog post, I highlight three free Denmark genealogy photo collections that serve two purposes for genealogists:
- The collections can reveal more information about your Danish family history, including local history of the places where your ancestors lived in Denmark.
- The collections provide images of photographs and maps that you can use to make your family history book more appealing to the readers.
kbhbilleder.dk – Copenhagen Photographs and Historical Maps
kbhbilleder.dk is dedicated to sharing photographs and historical maps from Copenhagen and Frederiksberg. If your ancestors lived in Copenhagen or at Frederiksberg, this database is an excellent resource for your family history. You can find photographs and maps of places of interest to your family by searching for a street name, a business name, etc. The database also contains some portraits, so remember to search for your ancestor's name but limit it to the surname to find all relevant results.
Each search result has a page with details about the image. There is a download button below the image but beware that copyright may apply to some photos. When you click the download button, you will see options for which image size you want to download. If the image is in the public domain, it will say so in the download box. Alternatively, you can see the license type at the bottom of the page with the image details.
The photo at the top of the post is from the kbhbilleder.dk database. It shows emigrants boarding a ship to America in 1911.1 If your Danish ancestor immigrated that year, they might be in this photo!
Arkiv.dk – Photos from Local History Archives in Denmark
Arkiv.dk is an overlooked gem for family historians researching ancestors from Denmark. It is a catalog of Denmark's many local history archives' holdings. Additionally, it contains images of photos from the collections. I have written a blog post about Arkiv.dk.
You are not allowed to save the image from the website, but it is easy to contact the relevant archives through the website. In most cases, they will send you a copy of the image and permission to use it. The collection owner may have put restrictions on the use of the photos, so if you want to publish the copy on your website, ask for permission.
The Photo Collection of the National Museum of Denmark
The photo collection of the National Museum of Denmark contains more than 250.000 images, and the search engine is well-made. Click in the search field (Søg i billedarkivet) to open the filtering options, including years, media type (billede means image), license, and type of material (fotografi means photography, maleri means painting, and tegning means drawing).
A cool part about this collection is that the images show photos of items and buildings in the National Museum of Denmark collection. For instance, the house in the image above used to lie in Skydebjerg Parish at Funen, but the National Museum of Denmark acquired it and moved it to the Open Air Museum near Copenhagen.2 Therefore, if you find an image of a building or an item of interest to your family history, you cannot only see the image, but if you ever come to Denmark, you know where to see it in real life.
Copyright may apply, but you can filter by license if you want a photo for your website or an article.
Beware! Spelling Matters – Search in Danish
The search engines on these websites are not like Google. Spelling matters, so if a place name has a Danish letter, you must spell it using that letter. Luckily, FamilySearch has a guide on how to type the Danish letters æ, ø, and å.
I hope you find what you are looking for to learn more about your Danish ancestry.
- Peter Elfelt, photograph of "Amerikabåden" [the ship to America], Frihavnen, Copenhagen, 1911; image copy, kbhbilleder.dk (https://kbhbilleder.dk/kbh-museum/35178 : accessed 16 January 2023). Public domain.
- Halvor Zangenberg, photograph of a farmhouse, 1927; attached to museum index card for the house at lot numbers 3d and 4a in Gl. Aarup By in Skydebjerg Sogn in Baag Herred; image copy, the National Museum of Denmark, Nationalmuseets Samlinger Online (https://samlinger.natmus.dk/flm/asset/13519 : accessed 16 January 2023). Public domain.