Although I have Danish and Swedish roots, I’d never taken a look at Norwegian genealogical resources. That is, until I had a perfect “0” mtDNA match with a young lady whose earliest ancestor was born near Stavanger, Norway about 1830. My earliest ancestress, Giertrud Nielsdtr was born c1734 in Hjorring County, Denmark, which is in the uppermost northern area, so not far from Stavanger as the crow flies.
Of course, I started to investigate Norwegian resources online and found some excellent websites.
First, and foremost, the National Archives of Norway offers FREE access to church records. The link goes to the English version of the website. I don’t speak any more Norwegian than I do Danish and Swedish, but the church books are set up in the familiar pattern by events so I was able to locate records of interest.
Once records are far enough by in time – generally, the very early 1800s or the 1700s, records were frequently entered in paragraph format. This makes reading a bit more difficult, but, like a young child learning to read, by matching letters and words from entries above and below, I could determine if the record was in standard format or if additional details were included.
Digital Archives, University of Bergen – includes church, probate, censuses, emigration.
If you locate a record that appears to have additional information, there is help available. Facebook has two groups – Norwegian-American Genealogy Help Here and Norwegian-American Genealogical Association. I have found that when I need translation help, Facebook groups are absolutely the best. One or many are at hand to help and sometimes a post is answered in less than five minutes!
Explore Your Norwegian Roots with Fellesraad – This is an American organization with members celebrating their Norwegian roots and maintaining ties to the ancestral home counties in Norway. Most counties are represented by bygdelags, which are districts. Some counties are “lags” in and of themselves, while other (adjacent) counties are combined into one district. dues range from $5-$25.
FamilySearch Wiki on Norway – The wiki is always my first stop when researching a new locale. There is a long list of tips for getting started, types of records to be found, links to websites and much more. Be sure to click the button for online records.
Norwegian American Genealogical Center – Check their research links.
Cyndi’s List Norway – There is a long category list with multiple links in each one.
Ancestry and History – by Johan I. Borgos and Marianne Froydis Pettersen
That Norwegian Guy on YouTube – offers basic lessons in learning a bit of the Norwegian language
Sons of Norway Washington Lodge
Norwegian Maps – searchable, showing farms
Norway Maps – Parishes
Digital Medier 1881 – Norway map from 1881
Nordic Genealogical Society of Southern California
Your Guide to Researching Norwegian Ancestors
Norwegian Farm Names – Oluf Rygh’s list
The Norwegian Historical Data Centre
Norwegian Genealogy on Kitty Cooper’s Blog
100 Years of Emigrant Ships – There is a searchable database, but it isn’t complete.
Norway – The Family History Guide
As with many other Scandinavian collections, many of the databases are not indexed or searchable. You must have a good idea of where your ancestors lived before they arrived in the United States. Some of the organizations on this side of the Atlantic may help you to determine a town or county, as a starting point, before jumping the pond.