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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

The first three years of the project, we will develop methods, while building the life-courses from the years 1787 to 1901. As these records are no longer protected by the EU-General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its Danish implementation, they will be simpler to process and disseminate than more recent data protected by these laws. The resulting life-courses and family relations will be made publically available in a searchable format on this website, first in beta versions then in 2022 the finished version. By 2022, we expect to be ready to cooperate with other research groups with interests in analyzing tailor-made datasets, covering the years 1787 to 1901.

From 2022, we will build life-courses for the years 1901 to 1968. As many of these data are still protected by the data laws, this work will be done in a secure environment at the Danish National Archives. Research based on these data will have to comply with the same rules as research based on Danish Civil Registration records from 1968. As a result, no data subject to data laws will be publically available, either on this website or elsewhere. By anonymizing this data to comply with data laws, however, we expect by 2024 to be able to deliver research datasets for the full period: 1787 to 1968.

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 are 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.