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Sound Toll Registers Online

A special research team at the University of Groningen and Tresoar, the Frisian Historical and Literary Centre in Leeuwarden, set up an electronic database of information from the Sound Toll Registers (STR). These records of tolls levied in the Danish Sound are among the best known and most important resources for the economic and maritime history of the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.

1.7 million ship movements

The registers are the administrative record of the toll levied by the Danish Crown on ships passing through the Sound, the strait between Sweden and Denmark that links the North Sea with the Baltic. With just a few gaps, the records cover the period 1497– 1857 and contain data on 1.7 million ship movements. For each passage, officials from the Tollhouse at Helsingor recorded the name of the ship’s master, his place of residence, the harbour from which the ship had sailed, the contents of the cargo and, from the 1660s onwards, the ship’s destination. Half of all captains who sailed through the Sound were Dutchmen, the bulk of whom were Frisians in the eighteenth century.

Accessible to everyone

The original Sound Toll Registers – more than 700 thick, handwritten, leather-bound volumes – are kept at the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen. The sheer volume of detailed information they contain makes them difficult to consult systematically. Although Danish historians have published tables with information on the number of ship movements through the Sound, information about individual shipmasters has been difficult to access until now. Now part of the registers are accessible on the website The rest of the archive will follow.

Generous grant

The 'Sound Toll Registers Online' project has been made possible by a grant of more than €1.2 million from NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, with co-funding from the University of Groningen, Tresoar and several private Frisian funds.


The project is managed by Jan Willem Veluwenkamp, University of Groningen, History department, 050 363 6833, and Siem van der Woude, Tresoar, 058 789 0755,

Sound Toll Registers Online needs volunteers! More information:

Last modified:18 February 2020 09.31 a.m.
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