Research Tips: Before You Can Research in Norway
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Research Tips: 
Before You Can Research in Norway

by Linda K. Schwartz
3 February 2013

"My mother's maiden name was Johnson. She can't remember anything else since her father died when she was young. Can you help me find my ancestors?" - RS

"My last name is Olson and I think my family may be from Norway. Please send me information on all the Olsons in Norway. Thanks." JO

It would be very difficult for anyone to help the two people whose queries are shown above. There's no real information here to figure out which of the hundreds of Olson's or Johnson's these might be -- that's if the family was actually called by the surname Olson or Johnson in Norway.

To start researching your ancestors in Norway there is one key element: You must know some facts about your immigrant ancestor -- the person who left Norway. How do you start? By locating all the information you can in the U.S. (or other country) about your immigrant ancestor before you try to research in Norway.

Immigrant information includes the following:

  1. name in the U.S. (Canada, Australia, or other country)
  2. name in Norway *
  3. birthdate and place *
  4. marriage date and place
  5. immigration date and place
  6. death date and place
  7. names of siblings
  8. names of parents
  9. name of spouse (along all of the other information listed in #1-8 above for the spouse)

* VERY IMPORTANT to confirming what you find in Norwegian records.

The more pieces of the above information you have, the better luck you will have in finding your ancestor and his/her family in Norway.

You'll find this information in these sources:

  1. birth certificate (of ancestor, ancestor children, ancestor siblings)
  2. marriage certificate or record (at county level and in church records)
  3. death certificate
  4. church records (marriage, baptism, burial)
  5. naturalization records
  6. tombstone inscription
  7. obituaries
  8. bibles
  9. letters or journals
  10. census enumerations
  11. court records
  12. wills and probate records
  13. deeds
  14. military papers
  15. tax lists
  16. passenger/immigration lists
  17. newspaper articles
  18. local histories
  19. interviews with family members

You may find information about your ancestors in the papers and records of his/her brothers or sisters or other relatives in the U.S. You never know what clue you'll find, so don't overlook any source.

Be careful of what assumptions you make before you collect some facts. And don't believe everything someone tells you in an interview - verify it with another source.

Once you have collected key information, you're ready to begin your research in Norway. There are several good web sites listed below that discuss this process. Think of these as "required reading."

Writing a Good Norwegian Research Query by Linda Schwartz

Getting Started Articles by John Follesdal   

Genealogical Wordlist - Norway - from LDS 

What is a Bygdebok? by Johan I. Borgos 

Norwegian-English Dictionary - an online dictionary from John Follesdal

Norwegian-English Dictionary by Einar Haugen. The best available. You can order it online.

Norwegian Naming Patterns by Johan I. Borgos

Norwegian Farm Names by Johan I. Borgos

Don't forget to check out the other sources listed on the Norwegian Resources pages.

Researching your ancestors in Norway may not be an easy task, but with enough perseverance and work, I'm sure you'll be rewarded. Good luck!



If you find any broken links, please notify me. Thanks!
Linda K. Schwartz
Norway Webmaster and Coordinator

This page may be freely linked to but may not be copied without permission of the owner, Linda K. Schwartz.
Copyright 1997-2013 Linda K. Schwartz

Page modified 03 February 2013 07:04:33 PM -0600