Dagmar og de ugifte mødre

Christian Forsmann Christoffersen

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This master’s thesis investigates the lives of unmarried women, who are expecting a child. The aim is to uncover what challenges these women faced, in society during the early 1900s, on multiple levels. The inspiration of this study originates from the criminal acts, and the subsequent trial, of Dagmar Overby. Dagmar Overby is one of the most prolific serial killers in Danish history, the victims of her crimes were newborns whom she had taken into foster care. In 1921, she was convicted for the murders of eight children, during her trial a lot of critical claims arose. Her defender, Gottlieb Jacobsen, claimed that careless mothers and an inadequate society were partly to blame. Earlier studies within this field, have mainly focused on describing the life of Dagmar Overby and the subsequent trial. This study investigates Jacobsen’s claim, compared to what is known about the life of unmarried mothers during the period of 1900-1950. Through analysis of the circumstances of these women’s lives, and decisions the women made, the study takes a critical assessment of the claim. The study analyses the lives of unmarried women through themes such as economy, social life and laws. All of these themes are considered to be issues, which could force the unmarried mothers to kill their newborn or place them in foster care. The study investigates the lives of these women partly through original archive material from the trial, old newspaper articles, and through literature about women and child laws. The analysis of this material has led to the conclusion, that unmarried mothers faced plenty of obstacles, including: financial limitations, the risk of public humiliation, and laws that limited and stigmatised their way of life severely. All of these circumstances are considered to have influenced why some women chose to kill their newborn or place them in foster care.

UddannelserHistorie, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato28 jun. 2016
VejledereKarin Cohr Lützen


  • Mødrehjælpen
  • Folkeregistrering
  • København
  • Seriemorder
  • Dagmar Overby
  • Barnedrab
  • Graviditet
  • Kriminalitet