Digitized Corvée Work Records

Digitized Corvée Work Records

Danish tenant farmers had to do hoveri (corvée work) for the land owner. Beginning in year 1800 land owners had to record the work done by each farmer. Many hoveriprotokoller (corvée work record books) have been kept and some have even been digitized, so you can access them from anywhere in the world.

Digitized Hoveri Records from the Danish National Archives

The Danish National Archives has digitized a lot of hoveri records, but using the search engine displayed at the front page of the English version of their website may not provide all available results, because you cannot use wildcard in that search. However, there is a much better search engine (in Danish) and it is not that hard to use if you follow my directions.

  1. Go to https://www.sa.dk/find/ where you can search using wildcards and various filters.
  2. In the field marked Fritekst, you write the search string. In this case I would write hoveri* (As you have probably guessed, the star is a wildcard for one or more letters after the word hoveri).
  3. If you know the name of the land owner, you can add that to the search string.
  4. Tick the box where it says Scannede arkivalier to limit the search to digitized records.
  5. Click the blue button called Søg to search.

In yesterday's post, I showed how to find the copy of a fæstebrev (lease letter) using Mads Hansen from Frederiksgave Manor as an example. Searching for digitized hoveri records from Frederiksgave produced no results, but they do exist, just not at this website.

Digitized Hoveri Records at FamilySearch

FamilySearch has a lot of digitized Danish records, which are not available at the website of the Danish National Archives. Go to the record series Denmark Estate Records 1436-1964 to find the records from the Danish manors. Click the link to browse through the images, select the county or region and thereafter the manor. FamilySearch has a lot of records from Frederiksgave Manor. Hoveriprotokoller are available from 1800 to 1829. Mads Hansen was given the lease letter in 1831, so he is not in the records at FamilySearch, however, Mads' lease letter mentioned the former tenant, Hans Larsen. By flipping through the hoveri records from 1822 to 1829, I found Hans Larsen's entry at image 307.1 Click the image below to see the full page; you may need to log in (which is free).

List of Corvée Work (Hoveri) by Hans Larsen in Dreslette

The record says that farmer Hans Larsen in Dreslette has to do corvée work for half a farm. Many tenants only held the copyhold of half a farm. A farm was often shared with a family member; therefore it is advisable to look at the previous and following page to see if the other half was held by a potential relative.

The handwritten information to the left lists the dates of when a specific task was carried out. The headings list all the tasks to be done and how many days the farmer had to do the task. Adding up all the days listed in the headings, Hans had to do corvée work for almost 122 days per year.  When a task was done, the duration was subtracted. If you look at the registrations for 1 January 1827, it seems that Hans was quite busy that day. In fact the outstanding work was written off at the start of the new year, because Hans had not been asked to do all the tasks.

Headings in Hoveriprotokoller

The first two tasks listed from the left were accounted for in days. The rest were accounted for in spanddage (abbreviated Spd.) and gangdage (abbreviated Ggd.). Spanddage were days were the farmer had to do work with horses and maybe a wagon, and gangdage were work without horses and wagon.

From left to right, the headings list the following tasks:

  • Plowing
  • Rolling
  • Reaping the grains, tying the sheaves, loading and receiving the grains at the barn and drying it
  • In the meadows, harvesting and turning the hay, loading, transporting and receiving it at the loft
  • Bringing grain and hay stacks in
  • Maintaining fences
  • ???
  • Adding to and mixing the manure, and transporting feed to the milking places
  • Clean the grains and take them from the barn to the lofts
  • Driving grain and other food produce away and to ships
  • Foresting
  • Cutting peat
  • Driving feed from the barn and stacking it
  • Cleaning water places [ponds etc.]
  • Repairing roads in the fields of the farm
  • Cutting reeds
  • Maintaining the yard of the production buildings
  • Moving for the seller, buyer or tenant of the farm
  • Digging ditches along the roads and removing snow

Remember that this is the list of work to be done for the main farm or manor. The farmer also had to maintain the farm or house for which he held the copyhold. The work involved in that is not a part of this list of tasks.


Source references:

  1. Frederiksgave Gods, Odense Amt, Hoveriprotokol 1822-1829, 1826-1827, Dreslette, entry 22; digital images, FamilySearch "Denmark Estate Records, 1436-1964" (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-8978-LQS8?i=306&wc=M52N-L2F%3A333468201%2C333755101%2C333776301&cc=2015318 : accessed 2 April 2019).
  2. The image at the top of the post: Clover photography by Lene Dræby Kottal, April 2019; digital image, privately held by Kottal. These clovers grow in one of my raised garden beds. Is there a four-leaf clover?