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.
Census records can provide information about a person's family relationships, age, year of birth, birthplace, and property. Census records are especially valuable because they list a large portion of the population. They can provide information when all or portions of other records are missing. Generally, you will find more complete family information in more recent censuses, which can be particularly helpful in identifying birthplaces. Use the information with caution, however, since some information may be incorrect.
Aslak Bolts jordebok is a publication of the first census taken in Norway. It 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. 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 particular 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 north west 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, 1664 to the Present
Census records were taken in Norway between 1664 and 1666, in 1701, in the mid-1700s (sjeleregister) and in 1801. Although census records were completed between 1801 and 1865, these have not been kept for the entire country. Some of these census only list statistical information, while others are comparable to the 1801 census. These censuses are generally listed in the Family History Library Catalog on the parish level. Census records for 1865, 1875, and 1900 are nearly complete for the entire country and give helpful genealogical information.
In the latter 19th century, census records were taken every ten years. Census records from 1910 to the present are not available at the Family History Library.
The following types of information are in these censuses:
1664 to 1666: Two censuses were taken, one clerical and one civil. Generally, only the names and ages of the head of household and all male family members over age 12 are listed. These censuses cover the rural areas only. For some parts of Norway all or part of the census is missing.
1701: All male members of the family are listed by name and age. The census covers the rural areas only. The census is missing for some parts of the country.
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 are, listing all members of a family and all persons living with the family. Much of this record has been lost, but it has been preserved for some areas. Rogaland is the only county for which the entire census is preserved. Some registers of souls can be found in the parish registers.
These censuses are also available on the Internet at:
After finding this site, click on "Folketellinger" (census) at the bottom of your screen. More information is continually being made available online; therefore, it is a good idea to search this site often.
1801: This census lists all family members and all persons living with the family, including their relationships, ages, and occupations. This census includes those living in the cities. It is available on microfilm and microfiche at the Family History Library. The microfiche version is typed and indexed by given name and farm name. This census is also available on the Internet at:
1801 to 1865: Censuses were taken regularly between 1801 and 1865, but most of them were purely statistical. 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 are listed in the catalog under:
NORWAY, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CENSUS - [YEAR].
1865, 1875, and 1900: In addition to the information given in the 1801 census, these later censuses also list a person's birthplace. Additional information includes:
- 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
These censuses differ from one another in format but contain very similar information.
These censuses are also available on the Internet but are not yet complete for the whole country. If a given parish is not listed in one of the following Internet addresses, check the other internet address, where it will most likely be listed:
(This site is in both Norwegian and English and includes several of the censuses for Norway, but only the 1801 and 1900 censuses are complete for the whole country).
Census records are often available for various cities in Norway, such as an 1891 census for Bergen and an 1885 census for Fredrikstad. Not all of these censuses have been microfilmed, but you may consult the Family History Library Catalog to see what is available at the Family History Library.
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. 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 Family History Library 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 Family History Library 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.
- Information may be incorrect.
- Spellings of names and places 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.