The Danish Centre for Urban History was founded in 2001 by The Institute of History and Area Studies, University of Aarhus, and Den Gamle By, national open-air museum of urban history, Aarhus.
The Centre has a board of directors and a supervisory board. Chairman of the board of directors is Director Thomas Bloch Ravn, Den Gamle By. The institute and Den Gamle By provide other members of the board and Dansk Komité for Byhistorie appoints one member.
Dansk Komité for Byhistorie is the Danish organisation within Commission Internationale pour l´Histoire des Villes, and serves as supervisory board of the centre. The committee maintains independent activities.
The funding of the Centre is split between The Department of Culture and Society, University of Aarhus, and Den Gamle By.
The field of the centre is the history of Danish towns from the Middle Age until today, but core activity is focusing on the period after 1600. The Centre is the sole historical institution in Denmark that does urban studies in a comparative and historical perspective.
Research at the Centre is typically embedded in externally financed projects and researchers’ networks.
The Centre has attracted € 765,000 in the years 2001-07 from foundations and national research councils to project activities and publications.
The core research fields are: Urbanisation 700-2000, urban historiography, economic urban-rural relations 1500-1900, town planning 1800-1970, urban spatial development 1800-1920, civic militias and urban culture 1700-1870, trade relations between Denmark and The Netherlands 1600-1750.
The Centre has two ongoing projects: Town planning as part of public administration ca. 1837-1938 and Lodgers, Boarders and Singles in Copenhagen and Aarhus ca. 1880-1970.
The Centre has two books series; one is called Danske Bystudier (Danish Urban Studies) and is reserved for studies of extended periods or urban historical themes of a more universal kind. Three volumes, all anthologies, have so far been published in this series about the Medieval Town, the Classical Market Town and the Modern City. The series is produced in cooperation with Aarhus University Press.
The other book series is called Skrifter om dansk byhistorie (Writings on Danish Urban History) and includes works with subject matters that are geographically, chronologically or thematically focused. Finally, the Centre has a series of digital publications.
All publications can be seen at www.byhistorie.dk/udgivelser
Danish Towns during Absolutism. Urban Culture and Urban Life, 1660-1848 was published in March 2008 as vol. 4 in Danske Bystudier. Vol. 5 is being edited; it is about the fortified towns of the Renaissance.
It has been agreed with external researchers to publish books about the suburb and the private house movement and a survey of European urban history and urban systems before ca. 1800.
In 2009 and 2010 the centre is producing a three-volume town history of Ribe, the oldest urban community in Denmark.
The Centre gives priority to digital communication of urban history assigning weight to methodological and technological innovation.
The website Den Digitale Byport (‘The Digital Town Gate’) has databases, full-text source collections and other forms of digital research infrastructure, e.g. a Urban History Bibliography including digital papers and statistical and other forms of records and figures of trade, shipping, population, occupations, civic militias, monuments, various urban building types.
In 2008, The Centre will be represented with papers at the 9th International Conference on Urban History and the 7th European Social Science History Conference.
The Centre participates this year in the workshop ‘The Post-Industrial City: Urban challenges and responses since 1950’ organised by Institute of Urban History, Stockholm.
Søren Bitsch Christensen is a member of Urban History Editorial Board and is a board member of the European Association of Urban Historians.
The Danish Centre for Urban History seeks to coupling history students with the activity of Den Gamle By, primarily by term papers and trainee projects that add to the museum’s documentation of a 20th century town quarter that is being reconstructed at the museum.
The Centre participates in and tries to initiate the ongoing dialogue about research and communication of Danish urban history by holding seminars and keeping in contact with Danish museums and local archives etc.