Obtain Background Information for Norwegian Research

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1- Learn about  the types of records used for Norwegian Research:  Record availablility, records contents, time period covered, ease of use, and reliability, as well as the likelyhood that your ancestor will be listed in them.

There was no separation of church and state in Norway.  After the Reformation the Evangelical Lutheran Church became the state or national church of Norway, and as such is an arm of the national government.  There is no ordinary civil registration organized.  In earlier times all registration was entrusted to the ministers of the ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and it is still the clergy who, by entries in the church registers are responisble for the greatest part of th is work.

Begin by obtaining some background information about  your ancestor.

  • Talk to family members who may have known your ancestor
  • Search family bibles
  • Look for any research that may have previously been done.
  • Search original records.

Usually a Norwegian will be listed in a Luteran Church in the United States and here you may find the name of the town or parish he/she came from in Norway.

2- You may need some geographical and historical informtion about Norway:  Where in Norway was your ancestor born. 

  • Locate the town/parish or place of residence.
  • Check gazetteers, postal guides, and other place-finding aids to learn as much as you can about each of the places where your ancestors lived.  You may want to check the "Map," "History", and  "Gazetteer" sections.  Identify the major migration routes, nearby cities, county boundaries, and other geographical features.

  • Learn about Norwegian juristiction.

You will need to know how Norway was divided in counties, and  how each county is divided into parishes. 

  • Use language help.

The records of Norway will usually be writtten in Norwegian.  You do not need to know the entire Norwegian language to search the records, but you will need to learn some key words and phrases.