Kommuner: Danish Local Government - Children's Homes and Poor Funds

Kommuner: Danish Local Government - Children's Homes and Poor Funds

Danish local government in the form of kommuner (municipalities) have administered poor funds since 1842. The kinds of kept records differ from place to place. Today I will give an example of a boy who was placed at a children's home at age 7 and stayed there until he had turned 14.

Julius Thorvald Emil Nielsen was enlisted as a pauper on 6 March 1887. He was sent to live at a children's home, where he immediately received the following items:

  • One new hat
  • One belt
  • Two pairs of socks
  • Two shirts
  • One sweater, vest and pair of pants
  • One pair of boots
  • One pair of shoes
  • One pair of cotton pants
  • One sweater
  • One vest

Over the years he received various clothes. Every three months he was weighed and his height was measured. The weight is listed in pounds and the height in inches. In April 1894 he left the children's home to be an apprentice and he then also stopped receiving poor funds.

The record shown below is a til- og afgangslliste for fattigvæsenet (list of accessions and expunctions to the group of people receiving poor funds) for Odense Kommune from March 1887. I have highlighted Julius' entry in the column with Tilgange (accessions).1

Julius Thorvald Emil Nielsen: New pauper in March 1887 in Odense

The number VI 251 is a reference to his entry in a book listing details about all paupers, both adults and children. That book has not been digitized. Because Julius was placed at the opdragelseshjem (children's home), we can follow his development. Below is his first entry in the book of children at the children's home. Each child had one page in the book. You can see the reference number in the upper left-hand corner of the page. He was also assigned a plejebarn (child in care) number, 493.

Julius Thorvald Emil NIelsen 1887-1888 at the Children's Home in Odense

Having his number, he can be followed in the books of children at the children's home for the following years. Unless a child died, you should expect the child to leave the home around the age of 14. I looked for julius in the lists of Afgange (expunctions) and in April 1894 he was there, as shown below.2

Julius Thorvald Emil Nielsen 1893 Expunction

If one of your Danish ancestors is listed as a fattiglem (pauper) in a census or other record, it is definitely worth looking for records from the local government. The department handling the poor funds was called fattigvæsenet. Records from fattigvæsenet usually include the following:

  • Brevjournal or simply journal - Journal of inbound letters
  • Kopibog - Journal for copies of outbound letters
  • Til- og afgangsliste - Lists of accessions and expunctions
  • Skudsmålsbog - Main book of paupers
  • Forhandlingsprotokol - Book of assessments of requests for poor funds

These records show that even if your ancestor was not wealthy or a prominent citizen, you can sometimes find interesting details about his life. Happy hunting!

 

Source references:

  1. Odense Kommune, Fattigudvalget, Til- og afgangsliste for fattigvæsenet, dagrapport Marts 1889, tilgang, [date] 6, Julius Thorvald Emil Nielsen; digital image, Rigsarkivet (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=279804#279804,54175880 : accessed 11 April 2019).
  2. Odense Kommune, Fattigudvalget, Plejebørn på opdragelseshjem, 1887-1888, pauper VI 251, plejebarn 493, Julius Thorvald Emil Nielsen; digital image, Rigsarkivet (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=279806#279806,54176034 : accessed 11 April 2019). Odense Kommune, Fattigudvalget, Plejebørn på opdragelseshjem, 1889-1890, pauper VI 251, plejebarn 493, Julius Thorvald Emil Nielsen; digital image, Rigsarkivet (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=279807#279807,54176088 : accessed 11 April 2019).  Odense Kommune, Fattigudvalget, Plejebørn på opdragelseshjem, 1891-1893, pauper VI 251, plejebarn 493, Julius Thorvald Emil Nielsen; digital image, Rigsarkivet (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=279808#279808,54176141 : accessed 11 April 2019). Odense Kommune, Fattigudvalget, Til- og afgangsliste for fattigvæsenet, dagrapport April 1894, afgang, [date] 6, Dreng [boy] Julius Thorvald Emil Nielsen; digital image, Rigsarkivet (https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/da/billedviser?bsid=279804#279804,54175965 : accessed 11 April 2019).
  3. The image at the top of the post: Regicollis, Coat of arms of Odenseimage, Wikipedia, license CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50830736 : accessed 11 April 2019).