About the State Archives

The State Archives collects and stores historic sources and makes them available to the public.

Our Reading Rooms are open to all who wish to use the records, Parish Registers, census lists, financial accounts and other types of unique documents, registers and files.

Many of our visitors are looking for their ancestors, and others are interested in the history of their region or their home town. Still others are academic researchers or students who may be working on a historical research project or their theses.

The raw material - the records - originates from the Danish public authorities. The State Archives ensure that authorities arrange and transfer their records in a condition that renders them useful to future users of the archives - and not least, to the authorities themselves.

The organisation

The State Archives is the collective name for the Danish National Business Archives, the Danish Data Archives, the Danish National Archives and the 3 provincial archives at Viborg, Aabenraa and Odense. The National Archivist is the Head of the National Archives and the Senior Manager of the State Archives.

  • The provincial archives hold records transferred from regional authorities, e.g. the Courts of Law, the county authorities, the Police and many local authorities.
  • The Danish National Archives is the archive-holding body for the central authorities such as ministries, agencies and national organisations. (and from 2012 holds the records formerly held at the Provincial Archive of Zealand)
  • The Danish National Business Archives keep registers, documents, etc. from companies and organisations in the business sector.
  • The Danish Data Archives, the newest of the seven archive-holding bodies, keep historical and social science studies such as registers, databases and other electronically-stored information.

Appraisal for disposal

Not everything can be stored. Thus, a major task of the Danish State Archives is to appraise what should be preserved and what may be disposed of. Specific rules and regulations issued by the State Archives specify what may be disposed of.

Normally, state records should be transferred before they are 30 years old. Local and county authorities, e.g. hospitals, upper secondary schools and old people's homes are not under an obligation to transfer their records but may do so if they pay for this service. The State Archives also accept records from a number of private organisations, institutions and individuals.

Research and communication

The State Archives provide a forum for an active interest in history. Each year, more than 180,000 bundles, registers, etc. are transferred from storage for use by visitors in the Reading Rooms. A lot of work goes into communicating and presenting the contents of these collections.

For some staff members, researching the records is part of their job. Local history, trading conditions, shipping and technology are just some of the research topics. The records are the key to all of this, and the findings are presented as scientific studies, articles in journals and publications, popular presentations in associations and societies as well as interviews, etc. on radio and television.