The aim of the Link-Lives project is to extend the range of register-research, based on Danish data, from decades to centuries. By combining historical research methods with deep learning techniques, we are reconstructing life-courses and family relations of almost everyone who lived in Denmark from 1787 until the introduction of the modern Danish Civil Registration System in 1968. This information is currently fragmented and unconnected.

New research opportunities

Link-Lives will be a new dynamic data structure to be hosted at the Danish National Archives (Rigsarkivet) in cooperation with the Copenhagen City Archives (Københavns Stadsarkiv), consisting of links we establish between information about the same person in different historical sources. On completion, the National Archives will be able to deliver tailor-made datasets for other research projects. This will open up novel avenues for research, with life-course and multigenerational approaches of value not only for historians, but also for health and social scientists.

Source material

The backbone of Link-Lives will be basic life-courses, built by linking data from transcribed censuses, parish records and burial registers. These transcriptions have been made thanks to the work of volunteers under the auspices of Rigsarkivet and Københavns Stadsarkiv. The basic life-courses can later be enriched from multiple sources, such as death certificates, conscription records, patient records, autobiographies and many more.

Project timeline

Since the start of the project in 2019, we have been developing new methods and building simple life-courses covering the year 1787 to 1901. As these records are no longer protected by the EU-General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and its Danish implementation, a first version was made publically available in a searchable format on this website (in Danish) in June 2022. New versions featuring improved life courses should be released every six months thereafter. In 2023 we expect to launch a download function for users to select and download small datasets covering the years 1787 to 1901. For access to the complete datasets, please refer to the Link-Lives Danish National Archives webpage.

In the second half of the project we will build life-courses including the records from 1901 to 1968. Since much of this data is still subject to data protection legislation, this work will be carried out in a secure environment at the Danish National Archives. Research based on these datasets will have to comply with the same rules as research based on Danish Civil Registration records from 1968. These restrictions prevent this data from being accessed by the public, either on this website or elsewhere. However, we expect by 2024 to be able to grant access to the anonymised research datasets for the full period (1787 to 1968) via the Danish National Archives.

A permanent data structure

The Innovation Fund Denmark and the Carlsberg Foundation are generously funding the Link-Lives research project until 2024. However, the Link-Lives data-structure is being built as a permanent research infrastructure in the archives, and is designed to expand as new sources are transcribed or data is donated by other research projects. As a result of this ability to absorb new data, Link-Lives will be well positioned in the future to function as a cooperation structure between researchers. In working together to make data easier to access and reuse, it has the potential to contribute to improving the value of research funding.