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Danish Database Underway

History professor Anne Løkke of the Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen and post-doc Bárbara A.Revuelta-Eugercios, who is in Denmark on a grant from Mobilexmidler, hope to build a national database from records that will make it possible to collate data in a computer program almost in the same way as health researchers work with contemporary records.

 A nationwide database would enable researches to study the health of people before and after the Health Insurance Act of 1892 and compare the health of 19th century children of parents whose growth was stunted due to poor living conditions in childhood. This kind of comparison has been possible before on such a large scale.

 “I’m in quite a spin about this project, even though were only taking the first steps,” said Løkke. “If we succeed, we can completely change the perspective on how healthy people were back in history.”

 What they have so far is a pilot project called the Copenhagen Historical Population Database based on data from the Danish capital. The researchers so far only have looked at the Copenhagen censuses, but Løkke is hopeful the pilot project will pave the way for funding to take the database nationwide. 

 The goal is for the databases to include records such as:

Censuses: the Danes’ homes, ages, and professions from 1787 and onwards.

 Parish records: Danes’ christenings, marriages, and deaths (the earliest of these from the 17th century and onwards)

 Conscript examinations: the heights of young men, their diseases, etc. from the 18th century onwards.

School data: grades at the time children were confirmed from the 18th-century and onwards

 Patient records from Royal Frederik’s Hospitals/Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet from the late 18th century onwards.