Digital Writings

The stories of Sydhavnen

By looking into the industrial history from the beginning of the 19th century until today, this report provides a historical overview of the history of Aarhus Sydhavn.

Den digitale udgivelsesrække 8 (Digital Writings 8).

Written by Line Toft Larsen and Lea Helding Nordstrøm.

Read the report in Danish here.

The chaotic meat

Report on the history of meat inspection in Aarhus from 1860-1914.

Den digital udgivelsesrække 7 (Digital Writings 7).

Written by Rasmus Skovgaard Jakobsen.

Read the report in Danish here.

Working-class districts in Aarhus

Report on the cultural historical preconditions for the emergence and settlement of the oldest parts of Frederiksbjerg and Mølleengen in Aarhus. 

Den digitale udgivelsesrække 6 (Digital Writings 6).

Written by Christina Patscheider Pedersen.

Read the report in Danish here.

The reconstruction of lost urban worlds in 3D

Documentation and approaches in two Danish cases

Den digitale udgivelsesrække 5 (Digital Writings 5).

Written by Søren Bitsch Christensen.

Paper, 11th International Conference on Urban History, EAUH, Prague, 29 August-1 September 2012.



At the Danish Centre for Urban History two virtual worlds have been reconstructed in 3Dfashion in recent years. The two projects are in many ways similar, but they differ significantly from each other in the sense that one of the worlds – a typical Danish 1830 town – has not completely disappeared, but has many visible physical remains from which a reconstruction was built, while the other – a big national exhibition that took place in Aarhus in 1909 – was a temporary installation, of which nothing has been kept. On the other side, the 1909 exhibition was by nature better documented by photographs and other modern media. The models were made by regular architect Cad 3D software – the Virtual Town of 1830 by TurnTool, the Virtual National Exhibition by Virtools. They require both a plug-in. The paper addresses the different approaches that were selected to bridge the requirements of the reconstruction of a physical environment in which no ‘black spots’ are allowed and the reality of a fragmented documentation. Another issue for debate is the question of how to enrich a virtual world with pieces of meta-information that are not related directly to the reconstructed world, but for instance could be added by incorporating audio guides or virtual theme walks and other navigation tools on the web site. Both projects were carried out at the Danish Centre for Urban History with grants from the Danish Agency for Cultural Heritage.


See the websites:

The Virtual Town of 1830 / Den Virtuelle Købstad

The Virtual National Exhibition 1909 / Den Virtuelle Landsudstilling 1909

A Home in the City? The Boarding House as an urban microcosm approximately 1880 to the 1960s

Den digitale udgivelsesrække 4 (Digital Writings 4)

Written by Mette Tapdrup Mortensen.

PhD-thesis, Danish Centre for Urban History and Departement for History and Area Studies, 2010.


In January 2009 one million people in Denmark lived alone and about 40 percent of all households were solitary; in greater Copenhagen it was more than 50 percent of the households. One century before, the Census in 1901 counted very few solitary urban households. At that time, the nuclear family was common, but it was often extended with servants and other employees, assistants and apprentices, relatives, foster children and lodgers and boarders. Households were thus more mixed than they are today. The combination of little schooling, early entry to the labour market, a drift towards the city, a high marriage age and very few solitary households meant that many Danes for a period of their lives lived as boarders or lodgers in a household with non-relatives. This historic fact and collective urban experience frames this thesis. The subject of the thesis is single people and accommodation in Danish cities and towns from 1880 to the 1960s. In this period, the population grew by 2.5 million, of whom the greater number was born in cities or moved there in order to live a better life. Some of them lived in the household of an employer but an increasing number of people lived outside the authority of the paterfamilias that had been the main jurisdiction in most people‟s lives until mid-19th century. The thesis is about some of the processes of individual emancipation contained in urbanization.

From 1880 to the 1960s, single people primarily lived in rented rooms without access to kitchen facilities and therefore had to eat elsewhere, for example at a boarding house. Every Danish town and city had one or more boarding houses that fed and/or housed different kinds of, mostly single, people; workers, students, elderly who had given up their own household, and people from the margins of society who were not yet supported by the welfare state. The boarding house was an urban phenomenon that existed for just under a century and met the needs of a certain urban group.

The central question of this thesis is: How did single people live in Danish towns and cities from approximately 1880 to the 1960s, and how was accommodation for this group of people connected to contemporary processes of modernisation, urbanisation and the emancipation from traditional households? The main part of the thesis is a study of the boarding house as an urban microcosm, focusing on three main perspectives: housing/accommodation, community and the idea of home; urban job opportunities and career options for men and women; and access to meals in the city.

Theoretically, the thesis draws on urban and cultural history and has an innovative methodological approach using different kinds of source material to study both a micro and a macro level. The great number of memories from already existing collections in Danish museums and archives are a crucial source of information, as are a collection of first hand boarding house memories collected by the author.  

Read the PhD-thesis in Danish here.

Sources for the history of Herning

Den digitale udgivelsesrække 3 (Digital Writings 3)

Written by Brian Wiborg.

Historisk Forening for Herning Kommune and Danish Centre for Urban History, 2005.

Read the list in Danish here.

Bibliograhy of Herning

Den digitale udgivelsesrække 2 (Digital Writings 2).

Written by Brian Wiborg.

Historisk Forening for Herning Kommune og Dansk Center for Byhistorie, 2005.

Read in Danish here.

City competition and city identity in Denmark 1960-2000

Den digitale udgivelsesrække 1 (Digital Writings 1).

Written by Søren Bitsch Christensen.

Paper, 25. Congress of Nordic Historians, Stockholm University, 2005.

Read the paper in Danish here.