The Best Scandinavian Sites on the Net
By Jeffrey A. Bockman
Originally published in Everton's Genealogical Helper January/February 2009
We continue our look at foreign countries by moving up to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. While it is impossible to cover everything about researching within a single county in an article, let alone several, I have attempted to provide some basic information about the various records that are available or in some cases the lack thereof.
The intent of this series is to look at websites that provide access to images of real records. There are, however a few “non-image” sites that have also been included such as indexes to or transcribed data from civil, parish or other official records where the documents are not available online or are only available for a fee.
One of the best places to learn about the various records and their availability when starting to do research in a new county is to review the Research Outlines at:
www.FamilySearch.org – Free Site http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/RG/frameset_rg.asp
They provide information about the history and availability of Church records, Civil Registration, Court Records, Census Records, Probate Records, Immigration, and many others.
Pick the first letter of the country or location of interest and look for the “Country Research Outline.” Also check to see if they have produced a version of their new publication titled “Finding Records of Your Ancestors, Country” for the country of interest. These are downloadable and printable files that include sample images of the various record types.
www.Worldgenweb.org – Free site
Another good place to learn about a new location is the local GenWebProject site. These are volunteer projects and the content can vary greatly but they can provide information about local records and resources along with links to online or transcribed records. Start at the World GenWebProject and then select the region, the country and then finally the local sites. They should also have links to helpful local organizations and any online records.
On the good side, there are wonderful church/parish records in these countries. The FamilySearch “Finding Records” guides show samples of the various parish records with translations of the column headings. Unfortunately you will need to know which parish your ancestors lived in to be able to find and use them.
Some of the challenges researching within Scandinavia are: the lack of fully indexed countrywide censuses to help you find exactly where you ancestors lived; the fact that a few of the boundaries with neighboring countries have changed over the years; that their languages are not very familiar; and that the Patronymic naming system was used extensively.
Location: You need to find your ancestor’s town of origin. Work from Known to Unknown. Check every US record to see if there are clues to their place of birth. You really need to know the name of the county, village, parish or even farm. Check the US Census records for the year of arrival and see if they were naturalized. Later passenger lists, immigration and naturalization records often contain the village name. The US Federal naturalization records of a spouse may contain the arrival year and village of birth of their spouse. A foreign census index or an emigration record may also provide their birthplace.
If you ancestors arrived before their birthplace was required, then check the records of any younger siblings or later family arrivals to see if they may have provided a clue.
Some of the websites have English versions, look for a British flag. Even then, all of the pages are not translated and the images of any records or newspapers will be in the native language.
As the boundaries changed the language of the official records may also have changed.
Two websites that can help to translate Scandinavian words or even an entire webpage are:
• Google Language Tools www.google.com/language_tools
• Majstro Multi-language translator www.majstro.com/Web/Majstro/sdict.php
These translations will not be perfect but they can give you an idea of the content. If you are trying to communicate with someone using machine translated text I strongly recommend that you copy the suggested translated version and then translate it back to the original language to see if the meaning is anything close to the original. Out of necessity, and for a little humor, I have included a few examples of machine language translation later in this article. You may want to consider having two browser panels running at the same time, one with the actual website and one with the translator. Text can be cut and pasted or images transcribed into the translate window.
Rather than using a family surname, a child’s surname shows that they are the son or daughter of their father. In the following examples the father is Hans and his children are Anders and Anna.
Country Ended Language male female Son Daughter
Denmark 1860 Danish sen datter Anders Hansen Anna Hansdatter
Finland 1880-1921 Finish npoika ntytar Anders Hansnpoika Anna Hansntytar
Swedish sson dotter Anders Hansson Anna Hansdotter
Norway 1875-1900 Norwegian sen datter Anders Hansen Anna Hansdatter
Sweden 875-1901 Swedish sson dotter Anders Hansson Anna Hansdotter
Iceland Still in use Icelandic son/sson sdottir Anders Hanson Anna Hansdottir
Boundaries: Historical maps are helpful to determine the geo-political boundaries at a particular point in time. Regional maps are good because they show the position of a country or an territory in relationship to the surrounding areas.
University of Texas
Perry-Castaneda Library - map collection
A map of Scandinavia in the time of Gustavus Vasa (790K) Map 17 is contained in the Cambridge Modern History Atlas, 1912. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/ward_1912/scandinavia_1523.jpg
Illustration – insert 63-1NetFH-ScanFig1 – Caption: (1523 Map)
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
This collection has over 18,460 online maps.
“The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has over 18,460 maps online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North American and South American maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia, and Africa are also represented.”
To find maps choose Directory, Browse by Lists, Select “Where”. Choose Scandinavia or go to http://www.davidrumsey.com/directory/where/Scandinavia/ to view links of the 46 maps.
A Google Image search for: ”scandinavia site:www.davidrumsey.com” returns 138 images.
Family Search Research Outline for Norway:
Finding Records of Your Ancestors in Norway 1827 to 1900
I would like to thank Jerry at the Norwegian American Genealogical Center & Naeseth Library www.nagcnl.org in Madison, Wi for his recommendations for the three main Norwegian research sites: Digital Archives, University of Tromso, and Norway Heritage Hands Across the Seas.
Digital Archive of Norway
“Digitalarkivet (Digital Archives) is the Norwegian National Archives' channel for publication of digitised archive material in the form of images, transcribed texts and databases. The publication includes archive material both from electronic sources and traditional paper sources, that are either digitised from an original or a microfilm. The digitised material is processed in the National Archives (Riksarkivet), the regional state archives (statsarkivene) or in our digitising units. Some of the material is also produced through external co-operation. The Regional State Archives of Bergen is responsible for the daily management of Digitalarkivet, as well as being chief editor of the internet site.” Their “How to” page is at http://digitalarkivet.uib.no/sab/howto.html.
The language is Norwegian but there are some pages with English versions. Many of the search result pages do not have English versions and any text in the returned data fields and images is in Norwegian.
Parish Registers (Kirkebøker) – Images
Information about the parish records can be found at http://digitalarkivet.uib.no/sab/howto.html#Parish_registers__Kirkebøker_.
“The Digital Archives is proud to present a new internet service for browsing digitised parish registers, launched on 8th November 2005. The registers are digitised from microfilm and then indexed. The registers are not published before they have been indexed. The images are indexed at page level. This means that you can easily find the first page of a register, as well as the start of a list of records, or the start of each year in this list. From this point you can browse through the pages in the register or through a list of records, even though the records are scattered around in the original parish register. Please notice, that you cannot, however, search on single records and names in the digitised material.
The microfilm department of The National Archives holds close to all parish registers delivered from the priests´ office to The Regional State Archives, ie. nearly 11 000 registers with a total of 1,85 millions of microfilmed pages. According to our plan, all the material will be published within 2007. The digitised material will interact with the databases in The Digital Archives eventually, but in the mean time you find the digitised parish registers here.“
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig1 – Caption: (Results from selecting Oslo and Aker)
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig2 – Caption: (1853 Banns for Aker)
Census Returns (Folketellinger) - Index
“National censuses were taken in 1769, 1801, and every tenth year from 1815, up to and including 1875. From 1890 (1891) a population census has been taken every tenth year. All census returns from 1900 and earlier are available for inspection. They are all located in the National Archives, except for the 1875 and 1900 returns, which are kept in the regional archives.
From a genealogical point of view, the best census is from 1801, because it lists the individual's name, age, occupation, and family status. The census returns from 1865 onward are also useful because they provide information about each person's place of birth, etc. Some of the figures given (in particular those regarding age or year of birth) can be rather inaccurate. The other records provide mostly statistical data. The 1769 census, however, includes some name lists, mostly from northern Norway, and the 1815-45 returns give lists of persons in a few scattered parishes. For 1870 and 1885 there are census returns only for towns. These records are kept partly in the National Archives and partly in the regional archives.”
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig3 – Caption: (Search Result for Bockman)
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig4 – Caption: (Detailed List for the Household)
“On this page you can search in the entire 1875 census for Norway, notice however that the census is not yet complete. Nearly all of the material has been registered by The Norwegian Historical Data Centre (NHDC) and they have concentrated most of the registration work on the census lists from the north of Norway. If you look in the menu to the left you will see a list of all the counties represented in the census. You can open up a county by clicking on the name and then get a list of municipalities available in the census.“
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig5 – Caption: (1875 Result for Neuhaus)
“The census of 3 December 1900
The royal resolution of 8 August 1900 proclaimed that a general census was to be held for the night before 3. December 1900. The aim was to acquire a detailed survey of the whole of the Norwegian population. People were to be registered with the place of residence at the time of registration. In the rural areas it was the vicars who were responsible for the census together with the local sheriffs and mayors. In each counting ward it was the schoolmasters or especially selected persons who went from door to door, and penned the actual census lists.“
An example of the registration form used can be found at http://digitalarkivet.no/dok/1900/skj1900-3.htm.
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig6 – Caption: (1900 Household result)
Photo album of farms in the 1900 census
“December 2005, a new feature was introduced in the Digital Archives. One can now submit digitised photographs of farms in the 1900 census. In connection with this feature, a photo album was established so that you can browse the different photos without having to search in the 1900 census. But there is a link in the album between the farm photo and the respective farm in the census list, so that one can find information on the farm and household. When browsing the census lists in a municipality in the 1900 census, all the lists with submitted photos, will be marked with an icon of a house.”
List Databases with submitted photos
There are 1490 items listed.
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig7 – Caption: (1900-telling for 1115 Helleland)
Digitized Real Estate Registers
“This material consists of mortgage books, which contains written copies of official stated public documents sorted chronological after their stated date. It also consists of registers, which are short descriptions and locators to the mortgage books, sorted by property. The registers and mortgage books are located at the Archives by local officials.
This service provides three different entries to the material.
Property: “Use this entry if you know whole or parts of names and/or real estate reverence numbers. This entry has at this stage a limited coverage and only works for registers younger than 1880.”
Register: “Use this when you don't find your information by using the property entry. By eyeball reading the registers (you need to understand and read handwritten Norwegian text) you may find your references and then use this to look into the mortgage book. The coverage does at this stage not include the whole country.”
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig8 – Caption: ()
Navigate in the material by selecting county, district court area (or bailiff area), perhaps administrative district and mortgage register. To find the desired property, one needs to browse the mortgage registers, but sometimes the alphabetical property indexes in front of the registers are useful. Follow the reference in the mortgage registers to the mortgage protocols. Currently, only Hedmark, Oppland, Buskerud, Vestfold, Telemark, Hordaland, Bergen and Sogn og Fjordane counties are represented in this entrance.
Mortgage book: If one knows which office (sorenskriver etc.), mortgage protocol and page number to find a desired property (for instance from Infoland), one can navigate to the specific protocol by selecting county and office, and the lookup the exact page by writing the page number. Currently, only Hedmark, Oppland, Buskerud, Vestfold, Telemark, Hordaland, Bergen and Sogn og Fjordane counties are represented in this entrance. Search or navigate to the desired property in the mortgage registers by selecting county, municipality (anno 1960), farm name, farm unit name, or farm number/farm unit number. Follow the reference in the mortgage register to the actual document in the mortgage protocol. Project status: Indexed: 6,708 books and registers, Indexed: 2,617,533 pages, Digitized: 4,300,542 pages.”
The Digital Inn
In the Digital Inn you will find databases that are made by either organizations or persons outside the National Archives. The contributor is responsible for the content in the databases, and (s)he holds the copyright to the data. The Digital Archive offers only an internet-based publishing tool, and shall not distribute the material in any other way than through the Digital Inn. Nevertheless, the Digital Archive is the editor of the Digital Inn, making sure the material is of an appropriate quality for the users. The contributor may withdraw his/her databases at any time. Likewise, the Digital Archive may reserve itself from publishing the databases.
In the Digital Inn you will find a list of all the contributors, and you must visit the rooms to see with databases they have made. However, the databases are also available through the access "Source categories" and the geographical accesses. The databases from the Digital Inn will be distinguishable by a DP in front of the link.
There is a link to 255 digitized books. A few examples are
15. Norske folkelivsbilleder - Norwegian life photos
32. J.C. L. Lengnick: Personalhistoriske bidrag - J.C.L. Lengnick: Personal History contribution
Numbers 77 through 84 for are Heimstavnsforklaringar i Bergen 1854-1883
These are books for requesting poor support in Bergen from 1854-1883.
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig9 – Caption: (Cover of Heimstavnsforklaringar i Bergen 1854-1856)
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig10 – Caption: (An 1854 entry)
The Norwegian Historical Data Centre
University of Tromso
“The Norwegian Historical Data Centre (NHDC) is a national institution under the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Tromsø (UiTø). Our main aim is to computerize the Norwegian censuses 1865 onwards together with the parish registers and other sources from the 18th and 19th centuries.”
Census – Index only
Basic search and then clicking on the house image shows the domicile information
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig11 – Caption: ()
Advanced Search lets you choose what fields you would like displayed and
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig12 – Caption: ()
Purchasing Census Images
“The list below shows the price in Norwegian kroner (NOK) for the paperback editions of the censuses. The books contain records of all the persons in each household and indexes of first name, surname, birth place and farm name. The censuses can also be ordered in electronic format. The digital products are 50% of the price of the printed products.”
http://www.rhd.uit.no/kirkebok/kirkebok_sok_e.aspx - Transcribed records
Need to search the Funeral, Baptism, Marriage, Confirmation, and Migration records separately.
The records include:
· Asker (1814-1878)
· Malvik (1823-1893)
· Bardu (1851-1877)
· Balsfjord (1856-1883)
· Ringebu (1821-1859)
· Skjerstad (1849-1894)
· Målselv (1863-1884)
· Skjervøy (1899-1909)
· Strinda (1818-1823)
· Sørfold (1791..1900)
· Malangen (1858-1886)
For a detailed list of the records and time periods that are included see: http://www.rhd.uit.no/kirkebok/rkbok_e.html
http://www.norwayheritage.com/ - Free site
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig13 – Caption: ()
Norway-Heritage Hands Across the Sea contains transcribed Passenger Lists, Information about ships, shipping lines, and ship schedules. Their ship images and schedules were covered in my article They Came On This Ship in the May/June 2007 issue of the Helper.
The pre-1875 passenger lists can be searched by name and once selected the transcribed ship list can be viewed. Actual images of the ship lists may be available at the destination or transfer port. The information contained varies by the time period and the data source but they may contain clues as to where the passenger lived and if married. Viewing the list of passengers will show who they traveled with.
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig14 – Caption: (Passengers on the s/s Oder in 1968)
www.ancestry.com – Subscription site
Access to Ancestry.com’s foreign databases is available to World Deluxe Members and Ancestry Library Edition users. The following databases can be accessed from the list of all databases for Norway at http://www.ancestry.com/search/locality/dbpage.aspx?i=d&tp=1652381&p=5173
Stavanger domkapitels protokol, 1571-1630
http://www.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=29710 – in Norwegan
Source: Original data: Stavanger domkapitels protokol, 1571-1630. Christiania: Aktieselskabet Thronsen & Co.s Bogtrykkeri, 1901.
This publication is searchable and there is an index (register) starting on page 1a.
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig15 – Caption: (Page 1a)
Church History: records and registers for Norway, Rogaland, Stavanger
Table of Contents
Stavanger Domkapitels Protokol 1571-1630
“Source: Original data: Jacobson, Judy. Norwegian Connections. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005.
As she has done in a number of her other publications (e.g., Southold (Long Island) Connections, and Detroit River Connections), genealogist and librarian Judy Jacobson has universalized an individual family history by giving it broader significance as an example of settlement patterns. In this case, her focus is upon her husband's Norwegian ancestors, the Jacobsons, and others who left the Arctic circle fishing communities like Arberg, Harstad, Moen, and Fredriksberg, commencing with the outbreak of the American Civil War, for homesteading and other opportunities in Minnesota, North Dakota, and other states of the Great Plains. Although many Norwegians emigrated for religious and political reasons, the author reminds us economic dislocation in Norway--owing to the uncertainties of the fishing and mercantile industries--reached such proportions that approximately 200,000 Norwegians emigrated in the 1880s. By the turn of the century, Norwegians represented the largest ethnic group among the 183,000 persons living in North Dakota.
After providing the reader with ample background on the history of Norwegian immigration, Mrs. Jacobson turns to her principal objective: to record the genealogies of families from the Arctic fjords. In this context, she sheds light upon the unusual naming practices that make identifying Norwegian ancestors difficult. For example, Norwegian children typically did not take their father's surname, and surnames were in fact derived from the father's given name. This phenomenon helps to explain why the book ends with a given-name index and a surname index (as well as with indexes of subjects and place names). This important lesson in Norwegian onomastics is followed by detailed genealogical and biographical accounts, drawn from primary and secondary sources, of the following families: Eide, Eidissen, Erichsen, Frostad, Gjertsen, Hemmingsen, Ingebrigtsen, Jacobson, Johansen, Pedersen, Rasmussen, Sagan, Seversen, and Simonsen. Rounding out this fascinating volume are illustrations of various Norwegian communities of origin, several genealogical appendices, and an extensive list of sources.”
Illustration – 63-1NetFH-NorFig16 – Caption: (page 161 - Rasmussen Family)