By Lars Henriksen
The Municipal Archives of Copenhagen and the Wedding Office are launching a search for same-sex marriage stories on the occasion of Copenhagen 2021 – WorldPride and EuroGames.
“When he planned the City Hall, Architect Martin Nyrop deliberately designed the inner-core of the magistrate building so that the city council were literally sat on top of the city’s memory,” Elisabeth Bloch, Municipal Archivist, explains as she points from the large windows on the 3rd floor overlooking the central reception hall of the Copenhagen City Hall and lets her finger travel down the decorated walls, passing the Wedding Hall and ending at the smaller windows that give a view into the archives.
As we are invited two floors below street level into the heart of the City Records office, where the oldest documents date back to 1275, Ms. Bloch explains that when City Hall was built at the turn of the 20th century, the archives with their 3 kilometers of shelves were believed to be built for the future. Today, however, the records held in the archives and made available to the citizens of Copenhagen extend over more than 50 kilometers. Much has been made accessible online, and more is put on the internet every year. But still it is the responsibility of the City Archives to collect and preserve all relevant documents and information pertaining to the life in Copenhagen.
The stories of citizens
For many years, this responsibility extended primarily to documents and letters relating to the running of the city, but from 1969 it was decided to also actively collect diary entries and narratives from ordinary citizens to preserve firsthand accounts of life in Copenhagen. 2000 elderly Copenhageners sent handwritten accounts of their lives to the archives, where they are still kept. This happened again in 1995 – and on various occasions, the archive has asked for narratives on special occasions: Tivoli-stories for the 175th anniversary of the amusement park in 2018, School memories in 2014 on the occasion of the bi-centennial of the Danish public school and etc.
“We WANT to collect and preserve as varied and representative a collection of memories as possible”, Ms. Bloch says, “but going through our material, we must acknowledge that LGBTI+ lives are strangely absent from all the collected material we have. Either because LGBTI+ individuals did not send us anything or because that part of their lives that pertained to their sexual identity or gender identity was left out. We don’t know – but LGBTI+ lives are and have always been an integral part of Copenhagen. We would like to help preserve the history of ALL our citizens. “
“Therefore, the Copenhagen City Archives and Copenhagen 2021 have decided to collaborate on a search for LGBTI+ stories for the archives. We believe that for this first step, a thematically focused approach will work best. “
A momentous step
On the 1st of October 1989, the first same-sex union was made official anywhere in the world at Copenhagen City Hall – a momentous step forward that since has led to same sex marriage or official civil unions for same-sex couples being a right for more than a billion people around the world. “We want to tell that story. – Or rather, we ask the citizens to help us by telling their story:
Write to us about your same-sex marriage or registered partnership in Copenhagen. Include pictures, invitations or other documents relating to the day and send it to us. We will preserve it for eternity. And if you wish, we can make it inaccessible for up to 20 years in the archives”.
For WorldPride in 2021 – the City Archives and the Marriage Office of Copenhagen will collaborate and turn some of the collected narratives into an exhibition at city hall.
The City Archives is collecting wedding photos
The Copenhagen City Archives is collecting wedding photos and stories from LGBTI+ people’s weddings and registered partnerships in Copenhagen from 1989 to 2021. The photos and the recollections are being collected as historical documentation of this important history. A selection of the material will, after agreement, be used in exhibitions connected to World Pride2021 and EuroGames 2021 in August 2021.
You can contribute to this collection by sending your wedding photos and stories to the City Archives. The photos must be in either JPG or TIFF-files in the highest quality. Contact the Archives if you have questions or need help with this.
Every picture must be accompanied by a page-long text (A4), where you talk about the photo and the wedding. The text accompanying the picture must include a headline, information about the date it was taken and if possible, information about the photographer.
Read more about the collection: kbharkiv.dk/LGBTI-bryllup
If you have questions about the collection, contact Jens Erik Mikkelsen Jensen:
Remember that you are always welcome to give your memories to the Copenhagen City Archives, which has a large collection of memories written by the citizens.