Norway Farm Books or Bygdebøker
Norway Farm Books (often referred to as: Norwegian Farm Books)
Norwegians (outside of cities) lived in communities called "bygd" which really were small towns and villages. Norwegian Farm Books contain histories of these bygds, their families, and their communities. There is a surprising amount of information contained in them about families who lived in these communities, sometimes they list parishes that families have come from as well as where they move to. They have been transcribed from the original manuscripts and are published in book form, and some are also available online They are not yet translated into English.
There is an extraction program underway to extract the information from these farm books.
Throughout Scandinavia, including Norway, the "patronymic" naming system was used; meaning the last names would be made by taking the father's first name and adding -sen or -datter (Olsen or Olsdatter).
Today most Norwegians use "family names" or set names. That would mean a patronymic name or a farm name being used as a surname. If a Norwegian surname does not end in "sen" it could be a farm name, and that could be a clue to help you locate their place of residence.
Finding the parish where the farm was located will tell you where the family records can be found.
- What is a bygdebok
- Bygdebøker (Farm Books)
- Bygdebøker at the University of Minnesota Libraries
- Oluf Rygh: Norwegian Farm Names
A guide to the Arne G. Brekke Bygdebok Collection in the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota, is available. The Collection does not circulate, but one can contact the Department of Special Collections for assistance to obtain information from the bygdebøker.