Tips on Using The Digitalarkivet in Norway
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Database Selector
Citizenship
Fire Assessment Protocols
Emigrants
Censuses
Church Records
Land Property Tax
Probate registers
The Military
Legal Procedure
Hints on Searching
Using Digitalarkivet

INTRODUCTION

Digitalarkivet is the Norwegian Archives on Web. On this location you can find more than 2900 different databases with historical data. Due to the Person Protection Act no information on the site derives from bases after 1924.

The link to Digitalarkivet is for the Norwegian site: http://digitalarkivet.uib.no/

And the English site is: http://digitalarkivet.uib.no/cgi-win/WebFront.exe?slag=vis&tekst=meldingar&spraak=e

I will on these pages attempt to describe what's on Digitalarkivet and give some hints in searching the site.

When you arrive at Digitalarkivet youíll see the screen below. You can then either choose to go directly to the census by clicking 1801, 1865, 1875 or 1900 in the blue line just beneath the title.

Or you can choose Database selector and be presented with the screen on the next page.

There are also some clickable links on the lower blue line.

Here you can: Change language, Contact Digitalarkivet by mail, Read the debate forums (they are mainly in Norwegian, but if you have a question you can put it in the user forum). If English is your language, then just type it in English as most of the guest there are able to read that. And if someone have any connection with what you ask about then you are certain to get an answer. Digitalarkivet as such rarely answers questions as they do not have the manpower to do that. They only maintain the site.

There is also a Dictionary link, but this is only in Norwegian, but it can be somewhat useful if there is a word you do not understand or able to translate. There may be another word for it that you do understand.

And there is Useful links; this is to places outside of Digitalarkivet. And Help may give you some understanding if you are stuck.



THE DATABASE SELECTOR MENU

On the left side youíll find what you need.

Never mind that they havenít translated the info page to the right.

Fylke

Here you can choose the different areas of Norway.

Period

Here you can choose the timeframe that the various database should be in.

Source Category

These are all the different types of databases that Digitalarkivet contains. And when you choose here you get a new menu that Iíll comment briefly:

Borgarruller/Citizenship

These lists contain information about the citizens in the major towns of Norway who were allowed to do business or work as a craftsman.

Branntakstprotokollar/Fire Assessment Protocols

They were made for buildings in some cities for insurance reasons and are not very useful for genealogy and only cover 4 areas of Norway.

Emigrantar/Emigrants

These are the emigration lists from the different cities in Norway . It also contains some ship lists from Drammen and Bergen.

Folketellinger/Censuses

Here you have access to all the different censuses that Digitalarkivet have from 1660 and onward.

The earlier ones (before 1801) are very incomplete and didnít count everyone. Usually only males usable for the military ore those who paid taxes were counted.

Geistelige Arkiv/Church Records

It contains different databases from church records. Here youíll find all the different church records that people like me have transcribed from the church books. You have to choose fylke to get access to the different databases.

Matriklar og jordebøker/Land Property Tax

These are some lists containing information about owner and the taxable land. Not much info for the genealogist but can tell you about the size of the farm.

Militærvesenet/The Military

These are records about those who served in different regiment in Norway . Very incomplete.

Rettergang og straff/Legal Procedure

Here the subcategories are: Forliksprotokollar/Agreement Protocols,Tingbøker/Courtjournals, Verdict books, Domsakter/Sentecing, Straffanstaltar/Prisons, Tvangsarbeidsanstaltar/Forced Labour Prison and Other

Forliksprotokollar/Agreement Protocols

These records show only the names of the counterparts and where the records can be found about the agreement.

Tingbøker/Court Journals

These are records that people have transcribed from the protocols to make them available to read. They contain records about everything that was brought to court from quarrels to actual crimes. Which is very interesting reading, but they are all written in a very difficult Danish/Norwegian language as they are written ďas foundĒ.

Dombøker/Verdict Books

Here youíll find indexes of verdict made in some areas of Norway.

Domsakter/Sentencing

These are some registers over people that were sentenced to jail.

Straffanstaltar/Prisons

Here youíll find some registers of prisoners in some of the jails.

Tvangsarbeidsanstaltar/Forced Labor Prisons

Here youíll find names of people being sentenced to prisons with hard labor.

Andre/Other

Here youíll find some indexes over different prisoners in Norway.

Skattelistar/Taxlists

Here youíll find different taxation lists for some areas of Norway . They usually contain a name and how much he had to pay in taxes.

Skifte/Probate registers

These databases are registration of death, and list of names (probate records) and these are very useful in finding the correct probate protocol in the archive. These records usually contain information about inheritance and dividing of property after a death.

Skule/School

These databases contain some list over pupils attending school.

Tinglysing Jordeskifte

This is a registry of mortgages on land and as they where made and when land was sold or otherwise changed owner.

Kart/Maps
Just an index over available maps in the archives

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THE CITIZENSHIP DATABASES

The list contain for the most part only the name of a person and the date when he/she got the "Borgerbrev" to do trading or craftmanship.

There are 10 different databases available online.

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THE FIRE-INSURANCE ASSESSMENTS PROTOCOLS

The Fire-Insurance order for merchant places in Norway from August 18th 1767 introduced fire insurance i the cities in Norway. All the house owners was ordered get an assessment on the value on their houses. This should be done by knowledgeable men, that was to be appointed by the Magistrate in the city. The same order gave also the house-owners out in the country the same opportunity. But it is rare that we find fire value assessments of houses outside of cities further back than 11845. That's the year the law about an all out fire assurance organization for buildings.

The assessment value put on the houses for insurance is a very useful source for information about older houses. With these we get knowledge on when the house was built for the houses built the last 250 years and about any modifications made to old houses.

What you'll find at Digitalarkivet is the registers to the protocols

These are all the registers available on Digitalarkivet.

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EMIGRATION RECORDS

Since 1867, the police in a number of districts have kept lists of emigrants with their names, home address, date of departure, destination, and - in some cases - name of ship.

These lists may often prove to be the best starting point for your inquiries. They are usually kept at the local police station, but the oldest lists of Oslo, Kristiansand S., Bergen, Ålesund, Molde, Kristiansund N., and Trondheim have been transferred to the regional archives. The regional archives in Oslo also contain emigrant lists from the White Star Line's agent for the period 1883-1923. The Stavanger emigrant lists were destroyed by fire, but copies of the lists 1903-1929 are found in Riksarkivet, and they are being computerized by the Digital Archives.

It should also be noted that "domicile" is frequently not identical with "place of birth." Since many emigrants moved to a town some time before they left Norway, their domicile may be listed as, for example, Christiania, Bergen, or Stavanger even though they were not actually born there.

Since 1810, lists of passports (passprotokoller) have been kept by the police, and the oldest ones are now in the regional archives. Such lists do not contain as much information about emigrants as the emigrant lists normally do, but they can often provide the birthplace, the age, and the destination of the emigrant. In Norway, the requirement to have a passport was abolished in 1860, making the post-1860 lists of passports less important to researchers.

The available types of emigration records online you can see in the picture below

As you also can se there are 88 different databases to search in. Not all are equally useful for the genealogist. Some are there for the statistician. But be sure to browse all the material or you may miss some info.

Some info about the emigration lists from Oslo/Kristiania on the list below

Click Here

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CENSUSES

There are two different kind of censuses at Digitalarkivet:

1. The National census which started in 1801

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. The books 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.

For which years there are available censuses on Digitalarkivet see the pictures below

But remember not all the censuses cover all of Norway and many of them did NOT count every one in that district.

2. Population rolls (manntall).

The National Archives have preserved a number of records dating from before the introduction of the national census. The most important of these records are the population rolls for 1664-66, which cover only the rural districts. They are entered in two parallel series, one filled in by the parish clergymen, the other by the local law officers. Women engaged in farming are listed, but otherwise only men and boys over a certain age are included. A computer version of the male census returns from 1664-66 has been prepared by the History Department at the University of Bergen.

The population rolls of 1701 list only males in rural districts. Records covering large parts of eastern and southern Norway are missing. (For other population records in the National Archives, see below under county and bailiwick accounts.)

The regional archives also possess, although only in a few cases, a number of complete population records, such as the so-called "sjeleregistre" (the "registers of souls"), which were deposited partly in the ecclesiastical files, partly in the civil files.

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CHURCH RECORDS

It contains different databases from church records. Here youíll find all the different church records that people like me have transcribed from the church books. You have to choose fylke to get access to the different databases. What you have to remember is that many of the databases in Digitalarkivet are registered by private person or organizations on their spare time and for free. They are published on Digitalarkivet just to help others. So don't get irritated if something is missing or you can't find the parish that your ancestors came from.

Here I have chosen Buskerud as an example and baptized children. I have also chosen to show all municipalities in Buskerud fylke.  So I get all the church books from where people have registered baptized children in Buskerud. As you see from the picture I could choose a different sub category: baptized, buried, introduction after birth, confirmation, public absolved or married. These are the categories available for the church books in Buskerud fylke.

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LAND PROPERTY TAX PROTCOLS

Real estate books called matrikler will give you the names of owners and cultivators of farms. The volumes from 1665 and 1723 (in the National Archives) are particularly important. More recent matrikler (from 1838 onward) have been printed. There are also quite a number of so-called jordebøker, records which largely provide the same kind of information. The oldest ones, from the Middle Ages, have been printed. Special mention should be made of Statholderarkivets jordebøker 1661, now in the National Archives.

These are books to get a way to know who to tax and how much.
 
 

These are all the registers that are in the databases. 29 of the as you can see from the picture.

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THE PROBATE REGISTERS

These records show the registration, value, and division of real estate and property of all kinds left by deceased individuals. They also list the names of heirs and guardians and a great deal of other family information. The registers also contain interesting data of an economic and cultural nature.

The oldest registers date back to about 1660. They were kept by the probate court (skifterett or skifteforvalter), that is to say by the chief magistrate (district court judge or sorenskriver) in the rural districts and by the corresponding official (magistrat, byfogd, or byskriver) in the towns. These registers are now preserved in the regional archives. They are usually quite voluminous, and only some were originally indexed. Lately, however, quite a number have been indexed on cards, and some have even been processed by computer.

The probate registers do not cover the estates of all deceased individuals. An estate was administrated officially only in certain cases; for instance, when there were heirs who had not yet come of age.

What you find on Digitalarkivet are mostly only the registration with a name of the deceased, a date and a number. But this is very useful information to give to the person that are going to look for this information. Instead of looking up this info in the books which is very time consuming.

I would say that this is besides censuses and church records the most important source of information. But it is not the place to start.

These are all the databases concerning dividing of property at death or sale of property.

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THE MILITARY SCROLLS

Rolls, meaning lists of officers and other ranks for each military unit, are preserved from about 1650. The oldest rolls are very sketchy. In the rolls from the 18th and 19th centuries, however, much detailed personal information is given. In fact, sometimes there is so much information that its equivalent cannot be found in any other source. The preservation of the rolls, however, has been very much a matter of chance, and for certain districts or units the rolls may be missing entirely. The rolls that have been preserved are kept partly in the National Archives, partly in the regional archives (especially Bergen and Trondheim).

Rolls may be found not only in the strictly military archives, but in civil archives as well, for instance among the amt or fylke (county) records.

Useful biographical and genealogical information can be found in the military probate and trustee administration records, in the archives concerning the military administration of justice, and in various accounts. Most of these records are kept in the National Archives.

Lists of seamen (annotasjonsruller or hovedruller), including information about emigrating "deserters," are found in the archives of the enlistment officers (innrulleringssjefen), which are now kept in the regional archives. Of course, these runaway seamen are not registered in the emigration lists.

 These are most of the military registers available on Digitalarkivet.

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COURT RECORDS

The court records are among the sources which can provide you with additional information. Most of these records - the actual records of proceedings (tingbøker), in particular - are deposited in the regional archives. A few (from the higher courts of appeal) are found in the National Archives. The court records contain reports of civil and criminal cases, including the so-called odelssaker (referring to allodial property rights). Sometimes you can find information in these records about entire families through several generations. Some of the books go back to the early 17th century. They usually have no indexes, however, so you will need to allow ample time to study them.

As you see here the menus are in Norwegian. But once you choose on of the categories the different databases will be displayed in English.

But remember that all you get in most of these databases are registers to where these record are found.

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HINTS AND TRICKS TO DO A SEARCH

There are several ways to make the search so that your chances of finding the person you are looking for are better.

The main thing is to remember that the name was often spelled in different ways. So do not go for the exact spelling as a first choice. I have personally had people that had their name spelled in 4-5 different ways through out their life. And many times that the person had two names and depending on the different circumstances one or the other was left out.

So look for what is certain to be present in the name and start there. If for instance our ancestor was named Kristoffer Kristoffersen and the source of that name was the immigration papers. Then do NOT take it for granted that that was they way he spelled it in Norway.

So how do we crack that nut? Though something called "wild cards" And Digitalarkivet have several of them.
 
Wildcards Action Example Gives hit on
? This replaces any character Ann? Anna, Anne and Annie and like
* This replaces none, one or several *ristoffer Christoffer, Kristoffer and Ole Christoffer, but not Christopher
[a] The letter may be there but doesn't have to Pe[e]r Per and Peer
[a,å] One of the letters have to be there Krist[o,å]* Kristoffer, Kriståffer, Kristopher and so on
% to be placed in front of search word.  The system puts in suitable [ ] and drops vowels %agt All variable of agate like agate, agåte and so on. The search takes awhile.
- To be used in between 1881-1900 d-f All the years between 1881-1900. evrything that begins with d to f 

 You may also find some help at Digitalarkivet at: http://digitalarkivet.uib.no/sab/howto.html

GLOBAL SEARCH

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USING THE DIGITAL ARCHIVES

Here I'm going to do two different kinds of searches. One in the censuses as they have a unique feature called "global search" and on in the emigrants lists. The person I picked on random and I have no connection to the family so please don't ask me if I have any information about them if they happen to be connected to you.
The emigrants lists search

Assuming that you have read the information about what the database contain elsewhere on these pages, I'll skip that.

Example 1 Your info: Christian Christopherson born 1901 and mother Karen immigrated to Canada 1904. Christian had another older brother named Lawrence in Canada. And since he was older he had to be born in Norway also.

The first thing to is to use the database selector to navigate to the emigrants databases.

From there select those bases that have information after 1900.

And then just start the search in any of the ports as you do not know if the left from Oslo or Bergen or any other origin.

I started in Oslo since I lived there once. :-)

And I met a snag at once. Se the page about emigrants from Oslo here and click the back button when you've read the info.

So I chose 1867-1930 database since that contained most info about emigrants in 1904.

And the first I did was to choose "sex" and "starting on" and "m"

That effectively halved the persons to search through. See picture below:

I now only have 145 861 persons to browse through. Still to many. :-)

Then I chose the year equals 1904.  I should have used 1903-1904 since they could have left Norway late in 1903 and arrived Canada in 1904. But I knew from the arrival date that they left Norway in 1904.

I am now down to 6545 persons and getting there. (wherever that is)

I then used "Given name" and "contain" and used the wildcard ? and * together with "rist" which should give me any name with that in it. Whether he had another first name too or not.

And got down to 406 persons. This is going fast.

I then chose search his last name since this is after 1900 and it was quite usual to give the children a last name in such registrations. But I could have chosen age 2-6 to be certain to find him if he was registered there.

So I used "Last name" and "contain" and the term "rist" again. This  time without wildcards.

And now we are real close! Only 29 persons fit the bill I made. This is possible to browse, but as the lazy person I am I go for the age as well. :-)

Ergo. Next step "Age" "equals" "2-5"

And presto!

We now have only 2 persons leaving Oslo in 1904 at that age and only one seems to be the right age and the right last name. so I click on the link in blue to the left.

And what do you know? He had a mother named Karen. This look like the right family. And there is a brother named Lorentz Klaus which is very close to Lawrence in pronunciation. And all of the family except Hjalmar Kristian ( who by the way ha an additional name an different spelling than in Canada. But I am certain that this is the correct family. Because we have many variables that fit together. (Birth date, mothers name, date of departure, destination and finally the name of the brother) This is too many hits to be coincidence.

And this gives us enough information to do a search in the1900 census of Sandefjord which was the place they lived when they lived in Norway.

To be continued...

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Copyright 2005-2007.  John Strom and Karla Halsan-Mattila