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Background

Many Europeans who immigrated to the US traveled through the UK. A Danish company called Det forenede Dampskibs-Selskab A/S (abbreviated DFDS) was frequently used to reach the UK from various Scandinavian countries. Their name means "The United Steamship Company". See The Ship List and Wikipedia for more information.

Question

Where can I find passenger lists for steamships operated by this company?

In order to help others who read this question, it would be great if answers covered many times and places. I am specifically interested in the year 1913, and I am curious about departures from the port of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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    I can say that the UK government kept no passenger lists for journeys inbound to the UK from ports in Europe and the Mediterranean. Any surviving lists for traffic from Denmark and terminating in the UK, would therefore need to come from Denmark. See nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/looking-for-person/… – AdrianB38 Jan 13 '15 at 20:59
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As far as I can tell, there is no site (comparable to the US National Archives' Access to Archival Databases website which allows you to directly search databases of arrival information for German, Russian, or Italian Immigrants) on which you can make a direct search for 1913 outbound passenger lists from Copenhagen, and get results for all the passengers who were listed on a specific ship for a specific departure. The databases which do allow for a search of the Danish Emigration records do not have a field for searching by ship's name.

The answer below is an overview of what I have been able to find so far -- by using the sites in combination, you may be able to put together the information you are looking for. Check the other questions here about ship travel -- some of which are tagged -- for search strategies and links to general resources on tracking ship movements.

The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives

The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives is a large social history site with information about the major steamship lines, with the bulk of the information being about the companies operating in Europe and the Atlantic. They say:

Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab Aktieselskab - The United Steamboat Company Corporation operates as the Scandinavian-American Line

They have some memorabilia and passenger lists covering the period from 1905 to 1929 (some are transcribed and online). I do not see lists from 1913 in their current inventory, but more may come online in the future.

In most cases, the lists on this website come from memorabilia produced by the companies, which printed lists of the first and second class passengers (that is, Cabin passengers -- no steerage). (These lists are generally lists of the names, listed alphabetically within First Class or Second class, with little other identifying information besides a place -- 'Copenhagen' or 'USA' -- unless the passenger is notable or famous.) For an example, here is the link to one of the transcribed lists of Cabin Passengers: Passenger List, Scandinavian America Line S.S. Oscar II, 13 August 1914

Norway Heritage

Norway Heritage: Hands across the sea has some information about the company's history and the fleet:

  • the main page on The Scandinavian America Line has maps, pictures of ships, the history of the company, and a fleet list
  • a partial list of the fleet in 1913. Underneath "Authorization and Routes" it says

From Kristiania and Kristiansand to New York, and by railway to the final destination in America

Ancestors from Norway

John Follesdal's site ANCESTORS FROM NORWAY on Rootsweb reprints an article by Odd S. Lovoll, "For the people who are not in a hurry: The Danish Thingvalla Line and the transportation of......." which was originally published in Vol. 13, Journal of American Ethnic History, 09-01-1993, pp 48. The article gives a general picture of the Scandinavian market and has information about the operating dates of the company.

There are over 100 pages in this site, so while the site is primarily focused on Norway, there may be other useful snippets of background information relating to Denmark in his pages. The link to the article above is in the section "They Went to America", on the sub-page Ellis Island, Passenger Lists & the Ships of Our Ancestors.

Liners.dk (Danish)

The site liners.dk has information about the company, the fleet, and general information about emigration (see the sidebar on the right to access the list of ship names and other information).

My Danish Roots

My Danish Roots has general information about studying your family history, including a page on emigration. Their article talks about the emigration registers created in Denmark (there is no explicit mention of outbound passenger lists comparable to those found in the UK):

The law meant that the Commissioner of the Copenhagen Police after 1868 systematically registered any person who emigrated from a Danish port using a Danish ticket agent; both those who left directly from Copenhagen or other Danish ports and those who left indirectly, i.e. via an English port. These registers—recording emigrants year-by-year and arranged alphabetically by their surname—end at 1940 and 1935 respectively. Although these registers comprises the vast majority of Danish emigrants they do NOT cover those emigrants who bought their tickets outside Denmark or those who—for some reason—didn't buy a ticket at all (e.g. sailors jumping ship). The registers are available for research on microfiche at most Danish archives and mayor libraries, but for the years 1868-1908 they are also made available for online search at the Danish Emigration Archive.

The Danish Emigration Archive / Det Danske Udvandrerarkiv

My preliminary search for passenger lists at the new website Det Danske Udvandrerarkiv did not yield any results, but that may have been an artifact of not having the proper search terms, and attempting to use the site with the help of Google Translate. There may be useful information in some of their publications. Someone with a knowledge of Danish who was familiar with the records could probably do much better. For help on how to use the classic site, and the nature of the records found there, see the links in the FamilySearch section below.

The Family History Library / FamilySearch Research Wiki

The original records of Copenhagen can be found at the national archive. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of these records dating from 1869 to 1911. You can also search the Copenhagen Emigration Records through: Emiarch Home.

The home page for FamilySearch's International and Scandinavian Research Teams has links to webinars on Danish Emigration and how to use the Danish Emigration Archives Database.

Note that there are two different series of registers -- one for passengers who traveled directly from Copenhagen to the United States and one for those traveling indirectly via another European harbor for destinations overseas. The Information page from emiarch.dk says:

For each emigrant, 13 items of basic information have been taken from the records: surname, first name, occupation, family status, age, place of birth (from 1899), last known residence (Danish emigrants, aliens only country-name), name of the emigration agent, ticket number, ticket registration date, name of the ship (only for direct passage from Copenhagen), destination and possible cancellation of the ticket. Added to this are 11 sets of codes to assist in making searches.

FamilySearch's Wiki also says:

You will find microform copies of the original Copenhagen emigration records by doing a Place search of the FamilySearch Catalog under DENMARK - EMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION.

The category Denmark - Emigration and immigration has 33 results. The only entry I see which explicitly lists passenger lists is:

The article on Emigration and immigration, in its section on the United States, says in part:

Passenger Lists. Most Danish immigrants to the United States arrived at the ports of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Quebec, and Montreal. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of the records and indexes for many of these ports. See United States Emigration and Immigration for more information.

Those would be the US Passenger Arrival lists for each port that have all the ship arrivals intermingled, not sorted out by company. For help finding these online, Joe Beine's Finding Passenger Lists & Immigration Records 1820-1940s, Ship Passenger Lists and Records Online, and Online International Passenger Lists are excellent guides.

While none of these links directly answer the question of how to find Passenger lists from 1913 from this particular company, a search for the names of the ships in the fleet might turn up something on other sites which do not have the information organized by the company name (e.g. RootsWeb mailing lists, discussion forums, and the like). Newspapers often printed shipping news, so by searching for the ships by name in the newspapers from the different ports, you may be able to get more information about their movements. US Passenger lists from 1913 should also have the departure and arrival days in the header of the manifests, which would give you an idea of the transit times.

You also might be able to reconstruct an outbound passenger list for Copenhagen by finding an inbound US list, and searching for the passengers one by one in the Emigration Archives' database (a tedious task).

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