The First Census – Without Names

In the 1700s, the authorities started considering a country’s population an important resource, and the first public census was held on August 15 of 1769. The census is numeric, with the number of men and women divided into various year groups. The population was also divided into nine occupational groups. Clear instructions on how to complete the forms were not provided, so this census is not fully reliable.

The Genealogists’ Crown Jewel: The 1801 Census

The 1801 census has rightfully gained its reputation as solid and reliable. It was carried out on Sunday, February 1, 1801, and is based on complete lists of individuals. The Table Office, i.e. the department of statistics of the Exchequer in Copenhagen, prepared the census and processed its results. In the rural districts, the census was carried out by the parsons with the assistance of precentors and school teachers. In the towns, the efforts were supervised by the Town Administration and carried out by the Subdivision Heads of each conscription district. The town lists are arranged by building numbers.

The census contains the names of farms (in rural areas), the full names of inhabitants, the familial ties between household members, their age, marital status, and occupation. For married and previously married people, it was recorded how many times they had been married or widowed. The age listed was the age on next birthday, but it must be assumed that the indicated age may be inaccurate. The names of smallholdings are typically not included. People were registered in the regions where they belonged. Those who were absent, e.g. sailors, should hence be listed in their hometowns.