The Letter Database

The Letter Database ('Brevbase') registers around 200.000 letters in the Western Manuscript Collections. The database is not complete, but a good starting point especially for the older archives.

Access the Letter Database here

About the Letter Database

The Letter Database is a good starting point for browsing the letters in the manuscript collections, but it is not a comprehensive register of all letters in the collections. For newer letters (1900-) it is necessary to look elsewhere, in the publication Erhvervelser 1924-1987 (Acquisitions 1924-1987) or in REX catalog manuscript base and the PDF inventories available through links in the catalog records. Learn more about how to order letters in REX here.

The Letter Database, which contains around 200.000 records, is an electronic conversion of an alphabetical card catalog of letter correspondents in the Manuscript Collection, the so-called Letter Index ('Brevregistrant').
Work on the Letter Index began in 1901, starting with a retrospective registration of letters in existing collections. The information noted was sender (afsender), recipient (modtager), date/year (år), and name and shelf mark of the collection (samling). This became the model of letter registration in the Manuscript Collection in the following years until the 1980’s, when the library implemented the first version of its electronic catalog, REX.

Exceptions and shortcomings

All information in the Letter Index is contained in the Letter Database, thus enabling a broad search in all the Manuscript Collection’s subcollections (see list here). However, there are notable exceptions.
Letters from the following categories are not registered in the Letter Database:
·         Collections or archives acquired after 1987.   
·         Large collections where a comprehensive written/printed index existed (e.g. N.F.S. Grundtvig, Karin Michaëlis) or the effort was judged too large to be worthwhile (e.g. J.P.E. Hartmann’s family letters).
·         Inaccessible collections that according to the transfer agreement are not available today or were not publically available in the early 20th century (see publication Erhvervelser 1924-1987)
·         Around 2000 archives acquired from 1950-1990 (see publication Erhvervelser 1924-1987).
·         A number of important personal archives or collections, e.g. Georg Brandes, Karen Blixen, Carl Nielsen, Otto Gelsted, Poul Henningsen, Johannes V. Jensen, Carl Madsen, Lis Jacobsen, Harald Nielsen, Robert Neiiendam, Emmy og Holger Drachmann, Harald Bergstedt og P. V. Jensen Klint., as well as letters from publisher Gyldendal’s archive and the archive of the Danish Society of Language and Literature.   
Please also be aware of typing errors and spelling variations in the records, such as abbreviations of names (Christian > Chr. or Edvard > Edv. or Johannes > Johs.) or latinization of names in other languages.
The natural variation was no problem when the alfabetical cards were placed next to each other. In an electronic database, however, it means that it is necessary to search for alternative spellings of names. 
Please contact the Manuscript Collection at for further information.