Trace your ancestry

The information gathered here can help you trace your Norwegian ancestors, and how best to use The Digital Archives.

Published at: 2017-02-20

The first thing you should to do is collect as much information as possible about the people you want to research.

What name(s) did they use, when were they born, and where did they live?

You may not know this yourself, so talk with family, review old pictures and documents, and make notes of what you find.

Read more about genealogy in general here: Tracing your ancestry

Innbundne protokoller. Illustrasjon for å vise hvordan kirkebøker ser ut.
Kirkebøker fra Ulvik, på hyllen i magasin ved Statsarkivet i Bergen. Foto: Tone Merete Bruvik

The information you collect should be checked against historical sources, where you may find additional information.

Always be critical of source material. By this, we mean that you should assess whether the information comes from a trustworthy source and compare the sources with one another. Bygdebøker (Village books) can be a great help, and there are many genealogy sites on the Internet, but it is easy to draw false conclusions and mix people up. Always check if the information is correct in the written historical sources.

For Norwegian sources, you will find the most widely used historical sources in The Digital Archives. For genealogists, these are parish registries and censuses, but sources such as probate records and tax lists can also be useful.

Read more about the sources in the Digital Archive here: Explore digitized archive material

Skjermdump fra søk etter Nansen i DIgitalarkivet
Eksempel på søk med treffliste

You can search for people or places in the search box on the frontpage of the Digital Archive. Try a search for Fridtjof Nansen:

Hits for Fridtjof Nansen

The list will show the first hits found in the sources available in the Digital Archive. Not all hits will refer to the same person, and may encounter variations in spelling. Click in the list to look at the result and the source it originates in.

You can also try a search for Sofie Matilde Nilsen. This will return results for different people; the first one being the most relevant result with the whole name, while the others are only partial results.

You can also restrict a search by adding a date. A search for Fridtjof Nansen 1861, will return results associated with the year 1861 in addition to the name.

We also have an advanced search, which you can restrict by geographic location, time period and much more: Advanced Search

Tip! You can begin by searching for people you are sure were living ca. 1900 - 1910. We have censuses from both 1900 and 1910 available, where you will find almost everyone who lived in Norway at the time.

Transcriptions of sources in the digital archive must be faithful copies of the original source material. By that, we mean that we make them available "as is". We do not correct typing errors in the sources and we do not try to normalize the spelling of personal names or place names. We do not change birthdays in people's censuses that differ from what you will find for the same person in the baptismal protocol of the parish records. We do not correct the sources in relation to each other.

This makes it challenging to search, as the sources may contain mistakes and omissions. Trying to fix these could introduce new errors; for example, the changes of people's names would potentially disappear. It is you, the user, who is responsible for assessing what is "correct".

A source provides a snapshot of a situation, but not the complete picture. Building a family history is the task of the genealogical investigator, for which the source materials are merely means to an end.

In The Digital Archives, you will find that many of the sources pertaining to people date from ca. 1650 to ca. 1930. We have information about people before and after this period, but before 1650 there are few available sources. After 1930, we have few available sources due to privacy reasons.

The period between 1801 to 1910 is best covered, as we have nationwide censuses available for this entire period.

Tips on other family history sites