Learn all about the records that will help you find the Danes in your family.
Your Danish ancestors likely were lured to America as so many immigrants were—by dreams of a better life and visions of a land of milk and honey. In 1836, the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen described what his countrymen expected to find in America: “Ducks and chickens raining down, geese land on the table.” They were after hygge, a treasured concept that roughly translates to a “cozy feeling of well-being.”
Despite that allure, Denmark lost less of its population to America than did its Scandinavian neighbors, whose economic plights were far worse. By 1920, about 300,000 Danes had immigrated to the United States—including at least 20,000 inspired not by promises of poultry, but by the words of Mormon missionaries. Except for those drawn to Utah, most Danish immigrants settled first in the Midwest. Then, according to the Library of Congress, Danes “spread nationwide and comparatively quickly disappeared into the melting pot. The Danes were the least cohesive [Scandinavian] group and the first to lose consciousness of their origins.”