Norway Ancestry Records

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Did you know that Norway is famous for keeping and protecting excellent records? If you have family history that extends back to Norway, you can likely trace your family lines for many generations using Norway ancestry records.    

Norwegian Records on FamilySearch.org

If you can find where an ancestor lived in Norway, Norwegian parish records can help you locate vital information about your ancestor’s life and relationships.

For a time, a church warden or assistant typically made duplicate records for the parish so nothing would be lost. Look for both the primary record and a duplicate; one may be more legible than the other.

Search indexed Norwegian parish records on FamilySearch.org by the ancestor’s name. As you look, remember that names often did not have standardized spellings. The spelling of a name was determined by the recorder, so many variations resulted.

If the FamilySearch record is in an unindexed collection, you can look in the FamilySearch catalog to see if the record has been microfilmed, if it is digitized, or where a copy of the original record can be found.  

Online translation tools can help you decipher what a record contains.

Census Records

Some of the more productive genealogical sources are the Norway censuses.  Beginning in the 1800s, censuses included the names of all members living together in a household. Information gathered includes the following:

  • Ages
  • Relationships
  • Occupations
  • The name of the farm
  • Parish names
  • Other information often missing from other records.
a village in norway

Censuses for Norway are listed on the Norway Online Genealogy Records page in the FamilySearch Research Wiki. The following censuses are noteworthy for their value:

  • The 1801 Norway Census is available on FamilySearch.org as an online collection. FamilySearch has also microfilm and microfiche at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The microfiche version has a typed index with the given name.  
  • The 1875 Norway Census  is one of FamilySearch’s historical collections. Though the index is only partially complete, the records are searchable and organized by county, clerical district, and parish. Locations previously indexed are online in the Norwegian Digital Archives (Digtalarkivat).
  • The 1900 Norway Census is available online at FamilySearch.org. This census collected information about residences and persons living together. It includes names, sex, occupation, birthdate, birthplace, religious affiliation, and nationality—among other things. The 1900 census has an index and is searchable online.

Norway censuses are also available at Ancestry.com and My Heritage.com, with search tools to help researchers get the most from these collections.

Parish Records

The most important records for family history are Norwegian church records, or “Kirkebøker,” kept by individual Lutheran parishes. A parish (sokn) is the local ecclesiastical record-keeping unit for vital records. Information about almost everyone who lived in Norway was recorded in a church record.

Lutheran Church records are the primary source for genealogical research in Norway. Lutheran priests, as officials of the state church, kept records of the following: 

  • Births,christenings (baptisms), deaths, and marriages. 
  • Membership lists (censuses) 
  • Records of move ins to the parish and move outs from the parish 

The National Archives of Norway

Scanned images of parish registers are found in the National Archives of Norwayin the Digital Archives (Digitalarkivet) collections. When you go to the archive online, you can quickly toggle the interface between Norwegian(Norsk) and English using a menu option in the upper right.

Search by location (amt) and the parish name or collection name. The Digital Archive has guides for using the archives, and you can find an online guide for parish lists, maps, and specific help for Norway genealogy at the Norway wiki page on FamilySearch.org.

If you have some information about your Norwegian ancestor, you can usually identify the parish from a major event in the person’s life or a relationship using online guides.

A baby searchable in norwegian records

What Norwegian Records Contain

Christening Records

Prior to 1814, usually only the date of the christening was listed. If only one date was given,it was the christening date. Children were generally christened within a few days of birth. 

The following information is usually found in the christening records: 

  • Name of the child 
  • Name of the parents(just the name of the father in some older records) 
  • Place of residence (name of farm) 
  • Names of godparents and witnesses 
  • Child's birth date or christening date 
  • Home christening date if the child was christened at home 
  • Father's occupation 
  • Records of stillbirths 
  • Indication of legitimacy or illegitimacy
  • Smallpox vaccination date 

Lutheran Confirmation (First Communion) Records

Pre-1815 confirmation records typically include the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Age
  • Place of residence

After 1814,confirmation records usually include the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Head of household
  • Age
  • Birth or baptism date
  • Place of residence and birth
  • Notes on behavior and knowledge

After the 1830s, the names of parents were also given. See Confirmation (Konfirmasjon) online for more information.

a norwegian record

Marriages (Viede, Vigde, Copulerede)

Information found in marriage records often includes the following:

  • Names of bride and groom
  • Marriage date
  • Ages
  • Places of residence
  • Whether bride and groom were single or widowed at the time of the marriage
  • Occupations
  • Names of bondsmen (two men who knew that the bride and groom were eligible to be married, often the fathers of the bride and groom)
  • Date of the engagement and the three dates on which the marriage intentions (marriage banns) were announced
  • Date of probate if there had been a previous marriage

After the 1830s, the records also typically included the names of fathers and birthplaces. Sometimes a separate record of a couple's engagement (trolovelse) appears in earlier records.

Birth clinics and homes were established in the 1800s. They made their own archives of birth journals as well as birth indexes. The birth journals have been deposited in the city archives (Byarkiv), and the birth indexes are deposited in state archives (Statsarkivet), which will help you find elusive birth records.

Norwegian Farm Books

In addition to wonderful parish registers, Norway has a very special source called “Bygdebøker,” or farm books. These books are filled with detailed local history and tremendous genealogical information. Some of the information in these books predates the parish registers.

Bygdebøker are the earliest way of identifying places and the locations of families. Compiled by local historians, they reveal who lived on which farms throughout the generations, who may have inherited the farms, who may have immigrated to what country, and when a person died.

two norwegian men in a field

Other Online Record Sources

Norwegian records can also be found on major genealogical websites such as Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com. Also look at sites that aggregate record sources for Norway from general searches online. 

Forebearsis one such site. It offers a collection of links, including links to the following:

  • Birth and baptism records
  • Marriage and divorce records
  • Deaths and burials
  • Population lists
  • Newspapers
  • Immigration and travel records
  • Military records
  • Directories
  • Gazetteers
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