Tips for beginners in Norwegian Research
Understand Where You Have Checked
As you gather and organize the information you have found it is important to evaluate what you have found. This is a lot easier if you have documented your sources during your research activities. Keep a good research log. Make sure you write down what you are trying to find, where you have looked, and what sources you have aready used. What type of records have you searched, and what time period the record covers
Record the film number, fiche number, book number, CD number or Web address of the site where informaiton was obtained, along with book, page, and entry number where applicable. The person following your tracks to get to that same information should need just a few minutes to do that, if you've done a good job of documenting!
You may have from family or other sources the name(s) of the place(s) in Norway where your ancestor lived or came from. However, when you try to find that in a place list such as the parish listing for Norway, or, a gazetteer, it doesn't show up. What then? Remember that an "American language" ear heard what your Norwegian ancestor was trying to say in his/her "Americanized Norwegian,"
There are letters beyond "z" in the Norwegian alphabet, which are also used in the middle of words, and in people and place names. Their sounds must be taken into account when trying to figure out what people and place names really are. Those letters are Æ æ, Ø ø, and Å å , occurring in both upper and lower case.
The Å å or two a's together are pronounced with a long English "o" sound like in open. The Æ æ is pronounced like "a" in apple. The Ø ø is pronounced like "u" in turn or "ea" in learn.
If a personal or place name begins with one of these letters, they will be alphabetized totally after "Z" in any indexes or alphabetical listings using the Norwegian alphabet.
The above letters' placement in a personal or place name also affects the pronunciation of what is said and consequently, what is heard.
A patron said her ancestor came from "Oimark, Ostefel, Norway. Neither their "Google" search, nor a Norwegian place name search brought satisfaction.
Sounding the letters out, the letters turned out to be Øymark parish, Østfold county, Norway.
To help you learn more about sounds, you may want to purchase a good Norwegian-English dictionary. You may also want to search for one online.
Watch Those Dates!
Europeans write dates in the order of day/month/year. For example, a date listed as 5/10 1820, would be the 5th of October, 1820, NOT the 10th of May, 1820.
Get in the habit in all your Norwegian research of writing dates with the number of the day, then the 3-4 letter abbreviation for the month, then the full year. If you do not do this, and are abstracting or extracting information from the records, you will at some point in time transpose the dates. You WILL send yourself off on an incorrect research path as a result. The names are so common in Norway you could possibly find someone with your transposed date even in the same parish, and take off researching a whole new line of ancestry - just not yours!