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A census is a count and description of the population. Censuses have been taken by the Norwegian government and by ecclesiastical officials for population studies and taxation purposes. If we include the three broad census record categories we can cover the time period from 1500's-1910.
We usually use the term Census to include "skattemantall" which are records taken in connection with taxes; "manntall" which are records usually taken for military purposes and only includes males; and "folketellinger" which are records that include all persons of all ages.
Census records can provide information about a person's:
- Family relationships
- Year of birth
- Physical health (deaf, dumb, mute, etc.)
Census records are especially valuable because they list a large portion of the population. They provide information when records (or portions of records) are missing. Generally, you will find more detailed family information in more recent censuses. The census records identify birthplaces beginning in 1865. Use the information with caution, however, since some information may be incorrect. Remember the census records are secondary sources!
Census Records prior to 1600
Aslak Bolts jordebok is a publication of the first census taken in Norway. The census was taken about 1430 by Aslak Bolt (1377-1450) for economic reasons, as the Catholic church was in debt. The Black Death had ravaged the country, and several of the farms were left desolate. Close to 2/3 of the Norwegian population had perished. Properties were to be indexed so taxes could be assessed. The index includes the value of each property, taxes paid (or not), and the name(s) of the owners. There is also an index by given-name and place-name in the back of the book. This index includes names of estates (farms) that were under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop in Nidaros (now Trondheim city in Norway). This book does not include all the localities of Norway, but it does include properties in Northern Norway, Trøndelag, and the northwest coast of Norway. The old Norse language is listed on the left page, and a translation to the modern Norwegian language is listed on the right page.
Aslak Bolts jordebok was produced from the original book, from the Münchensamlingen (München Collection) in Riksarkivet in Oslo, and is in such poor condition that it is no longer available for the general public.
Jørgensen, Jon Gunnar.Aslak Bolts jordebok (Aslak Bolt's Land Book). Oslo, Norway: Riksarkivet, 1997. (FHL book 948.4 R2b)
Census Records, 1600's
1664 to 1666: Two censuses were taken, one clerical done by the local priest, and one civil done by the local bailiff. These are called "Titus Bülcher" census'. These censuses cover the rural areas only. For some parts of Norway all or part of the census is missing. Finnmark county was not included. These census' are organized by farms.
The following information was given:
- names and ages of the head of household
- all male family members over age 12
Originally these censuses only included males over the age of 12, but in the 1666 census younger boys may also be included.
Other census records from the 1600's were:
- "Koppskattemanntall" 1645/1646: a tax on persons
- "Quægskatten" 1657/1658, which was a tax on cattle
Census Records, 1700's
1701:This census was taken September 1701, and includes all males age 1 and older. This census did not include Finnmark County or cities. Large portions of Agder county and the eastern part of Norway are lost.
Mid-1700s: During this time period, a clerical census called a "Register of Souls" (sjeleregister) was taken. It is more of a true census than the previous ones listing all members of a family and all persons living with the family. These censuses are also available as "Early Parish Register" at Digitalarkivet
Most of these records have been lost, but they have been preserved for some areas. Rogaland is the only county for which the entire 1758 census is preserved. Some "Register of Souls" can be found in the parish registers.
Records fitting into the census category in this century, which can be searched as databases are found at this Digitalarkivet link. There are several census lists:
- Oslo Census for Vaterland in Christiania 1714
- Telemark 1712 census: Skien, Porsgrunn, Brevik, Langesund
- The 1762 census from Sannikedal
- Farm census for Tinn parish 1730
- Aust-Agder Census of Arendal local parish august 22 1715
- Census for Froland iron works 1793
- Vest-Agder Transcript: Census for Kristiansand from 1722 (pdf 6mb)
- Hordaland 1714-census for Bergen
- Census of Bergen citizens 9. mai 1714 (database version)
- Møre og Romsdal Census of Molde, May 28 1746
- 1746 Census of men fit for sea service in Kristiansund
- Sør-Trøndelag Census of Trondheim, February 23 1736
- 1769 Census for Rennebu in Meldal
- Nord-Trøndelag 1762 Census for Verdal
- The 1776 census for Ytterøy adm. district
- The 1791 census for 1722 Ytterøy
- 1797 Census for the local parishes Ytterøy and Mosvik in Ytterøy parish
- 1755 census for Inderøy adm. district
- Nordland Manntall over borgere, jekteskippere og handlere i Helgelands Fogderi 1742-1799
- 1769 census from Vefsn 1769
- Register of tenant farmers in Lofoten 1759
- Clerical census for Vågan parish 1755
- Census of boys aged 12-19 in Sortland adm. district 1770
- Abroad Citizens in Copenhagen after the city fire 1728
and a census from Telemark in 1782 which has lists for 20 parishes.
Census Records, 1800's
The 1801 census lists may include:
- All family members
- All persons living with the family
- Their relationships
- Names of farms
- Those living in the cities
The 1801 Census is available on microfilm and microfiche at the Family History Library. The microfiche version is a typed index by given name and farm name. This census is also available as a searchable database at Digitalarkivet. You may do a search of the entire country or choose a county and parish.
Censuses were taken regularly in 1815, 1825, 1835, 1845 and 1855, but most of them were purely statistical. For the period 1815-1855 a total of 198 lists of names, of varying quality, have been recorded.The census records that include more than statistical information have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library. The type of information in these censuses varies a great deal. They may be found in the FamilySearch Catalog by entering the [Year] and the words Norway and Census in the keyword search box, such as 1815 Norway Census.
The following statistical census records, which also contain names of individuals, are available by searching Digitalarkivet. Follow the links below to access them.
Beginning in 1865 additional information is found in the census:
- School districts within each parish
- Indexes to farms and localities
- Individual creeds, other than the national church
- Number of domestic animals on each farm
- Farm production
They differ from one another in format but contain very similar information.
1865 The 1865 census has been microfilmed and is available at the Family History Library. Searchable databases are found at Digitalarkivet. The records for Gol in Hallingdal, Oppland County is missing.
This is a link to abbreviations used in the 1865 census.
1870 The 1870 Census was taken December 31, 1870. It only covers the cities and seaports. There are many cites missing: Hølen in Vestby, Åsgårdsstrand, Hamar, Stathelle, Kragerø, Farsund, Sandnes, Stavanger, Vardø and Vadsø. Digitalarkivet.
There are no indexes for this Census, so it can be very time consuming to search.
1875 The 1875 census was taken on 31 December 1875. This census has been microfilmed and is available at the Family History Library. Searchable databases are found at Digitalarkivetas well as at the Norwegian Historical Data Center at the University of Tromsø, Norway. It is still in the process of being put online and is not yet completed for the whole country.
A second indexing of the 1875 census is in progress at Family Search. The collection is called Norway Census, 1875. You may find records there that are not yet completed at Digitalarkivet.
1885 Like the 1870 Census this Census is also only for the cities and seaports, but it has an index, which is being put online! There were different forms used for the Lapps, Kveins, Finns, and persons of mixed nationalities. You will find this at the Digital Archives 1885.
1891 The 1891 census was taken for the entire county and should include seamen. The people in the cities were asked to fill out the census forms themselves, while census takers went door to door in the country.
Not all of these censuses have been microfilmed, but you may consult the FamilySearch Catalog to see what is available. A quick method is to type "1891 Census Norway" in the Keyword search box.
The 1891 census is being added to the databases at Digitalarkivet, where you will find a list of those currently available.
Census Records, 1900's
1900 The 1900 census was taken 3 December, 1900. All inhabitants were registered as to where they were at that time. Unfortunately the 1900 census is not complete as lists must have been lost before they were to be delivered to Arkivverket. The following lists are missing.
- Bærum herred in Akershus (Vestre Bærum prestegjeld, 3219 persons)
- Risør kjøpstad in Aust-Agder (2 of 3 districts, 2249 persons)
- Siredalen herred in Vest-Agder (all, 1644 persons)
- Skien kjøpstad in Telemark (93 households from Districts 1-29 + all of disticts 30-35, about 3000 persons)
- Tysnes herred in Hordaland (District 3, 589 persons)
- Also various lists of persons for the whole country. For example, 70 households in Bergen and about 50 in Trondheim are missing.
The 1900 census also included data of individuals on Norwegians ships in harbors throughout the world and at sea. The census was kept on different forms. It contains 25,865 persons on 2,628 ships. Following is the link for this and the heading is in Norwegian as Skipslistene for 1900-tellingen.
The Norwegian Historical Data Centre site is in both Norwegian and English and includes several of the censuses for Norway, but only the 1900 census is complete for the whole country.
A list of abbreviations used in the 1900 census with their meaning is found at Digitalarkivet.
After 1900, a census was taken every 10 years until 2000. The law restricts access for 100 years, so the latest census available is for 1910.
1910 The 1910 census adds the full birth date. It has not been microfilmed and is not available at the Family History Library. However, it has been put online as a database at both Digitalarkivet and The Norwegian Historical Data Centre.
It is possible to download the printed editions of the transcribed 1910 Census as a PDF file. A file is available for each parish. 1910 Census as pdf The PDF file includes the census listings and four indexes--by first name, last name, birthplace, and residence.
A list of abbreviations used in the 1910 census is found at Digitalarkivet.
Search available indexes before using the actual census records. The information in an index may be incomplete or incorrect. If you believe your ancestor should have been in the census, search the census regardless of what you find in the index.
Street indexes are available for major cities throughout Norway. To use one you will need to know your ancestor's address for the time period of the census. You may search parish registers, letters, and other such records to find the address. A street index can help you find your ancestor faster in the census.
1801 Index: All of the existing 1801 census has been indexed. (Holt and Dybvåg parishes in Aust-Agder county are missing; as well as Maridalen in Akershus county).
Two indexes exist for each parish: the first is organized according to the names of the farms and the second according to the given name of each person living in the parish. Each county also has two indexes: one by given name and one by surname. To search the 1801 index, you will need to know the county in which your ancestor lived. These indexes can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under:
NORWAY, [COUNTY] - CENSUS - 1801 - INDEXES
NORWAY, [COUNTY],[PARISH] - CENSUS - 1801
''Later Census Indexes. There are additional indexes for various parishes. These indexes are usually organized by given name and surname. To see if there are indexes from the area you are interested in, check the FamilySearch Catalog under one of the following:
NORWAY, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CENSUS - [YEAR] - INDEXES
Searching Census Records
When searching census records, it is important to remember the following:
- Given names may not always be as complete as the name recorded in church records.
- There were no standardized spelling. Most people spelled phonetically. Alternate spellings may use * as wildcard, or insert "|" between variant spellings.
- Ages could be incorrect.
- Information may be incorrect. We do not know who gave the information to the census takers.
- Spellings of place names may vary.
- If you do not find a family at the expected address, search the surrounding areas.
When you find your family in one census, search that same location in earlier and later census records for additional family members. Sources that may give street addresses for large cities in Norway include Church records of christenings, marriages, burials and probate records.
Special signs from the electronic registration
In the transcripts there will occur signs and symbols which signify special relations in the original source or the electronically registered version:
(??) signifies that the handwriting in the original is indistinct or illegible (e.g. 'Kristi??')
(@) is used as a separator between two alternative readings of the original when it is impossible to decide which is the correct one (e.g. 'Even@Sven')
(%) indicates stricken out text in the source. If a word or a sentence is stricken out it is marked with a % in front and behind the stricken out word (e.g. 'Peder%Hans%')
(!!) signifies that this information in the source must be wrong for obvious reasons (!! alone in a field means that the information is missing)
an asterik (*) after a piece of information, e.g. a surname, indicates that the information is not given in the original, but included by the registrator on the basis of the information regarding the surrounding persons in the source
(E:) indicates that the following note is that of the registrator and not to be found in the source
A wiki article describing an online collection is found at: