Thursday, December 12, 2013

Finding Norwegian Church Parish Records in DigitalArkivet Website

I saw the note yesterday in the FamilySearch Library Catalog that some of the Norwegian church parish register books have been digitized and are available at  I didn't know that...

Being the curious sort, I decided to see what was on the DigitalArkivet website - this is the national Archives of Norway, and they have a wealth of records digitized and online digitized from the original record books.

1)  When I clicked the link, I saw a page in Norwegian:

Fortunately, I use Google Chrome as my browser, and it recognized that the page was in Norwegian and asked me if I wanted the page translated to English.  I said YES... and now when I click the link to get to the page (and other pages too!), it comes up in English:

The page above notes that:

"This is Digitalarkivets service for navigating and displaying scanned church books (such as images). It comes in addition to the service for searching digitaltranscribed sources (textual databases) that Digital Archives has held since 1998.
  • Every choice you make to the left is accomplished by clicking on the corresponding field [>] button or the [Execute] button below the fields. If "Javascript" is enabled in your browser will update automatically happen by choice. [>] Buttons are as unnecessary and disappear after the first election.
  • Election of county provides a new field for selecting the underlying parish / parish / church etc.
  • Election of parish type provides a new field for selecting the underlying list type (baptized, marriages, buried, etc.).
  • Try to avoid using the Back / Back button in your browser! Use either the service's own "back" buttons on the different pages, respectively. [Clear Selection], [Selected] and [Table of Contents Page].
  • Scanned church records must methodically sets used in the same way as the original protocol or microfilm edition: One has to look for the information you will find. It is eg. not possible to search for people in the scanned material.
"We recommend that you read the User Guide and information about services."

I did...

2)  I selected "Hordaland" from the "County" dropdown menu on the left, and then selected "Voss" from the "Parish" menu on the left, and clicked on the "Perform" button, and saw:

There are 23 volumes of records for Voss parish, which includes several sub-parishes in the period before 1855.  They are separated by year ranges, and there is some overlap.  There are three types of books listed - a Ministerialbok, a Klokkerbok, and a Pastorbok.  The Ministerialbok volumes seem to cover the range from 1700 to 1926.

I found and downloaded several pages from these volumes last night (that was so much fun!) and want to share the process with you.

The biggest help was knowing the date of birth, marriage or death.  I collected those back in 1999 when I found most of the names, dates and farm names in the Bygdebok for Voss, and then found records in the church parish records (the Kirkeboker) on microfilm (I know - there are special keyboard symbols, but those don't work in Blogger editor, and I'm too lazy to do it in HTML).

For the persons for whom I know the person's name, their birth, marriage or death date, and the farm name, it is relatively easy to find the actual written record in these volumes on the DigitalArkivet.  Although they are usually in a Gothic hand, are in Norwegian, and use abbreviations, the recording system can be learned fairly quickly.  It took me about an hour to be able to recognize names of events, months, farms and names.

So far, everything I've looked for has been found in the Ministerialbok volumes.  Here is the process I use.

3)  I start on the screen above for Voss (

My target for this post is Anna Sjursdatter (1772-1826), who married Torger Olsen (1752-1827), and died on 16 August 1826 on Gjelle farm in Voss parish.  She is one of my wife Linda's third great-grandmothers.

I clicked on the Ministerialbok for 1823-1837) and saw this list:

Google Chrome kindly translated labels for the different books - I want the death book that includes 1826, and I found it on the screen above with 321 entries.

Here is the first page for this volume for 1826 death records:

At the top of the page, there are buttons to advance the pages one at a time, 5 at a time, 10 at a time, or 20 at a time.  If a user knows the page number, they can enter it into the page field.  The image can be enlarged in the top area also.  I chose 150% so that I could clearly see the letters.

The columns for the death records are for:  No.; Death date; Burial date; Name; Age; ??????.

Since I knew the date, I could look in the left-hand column and advance to the page with 16 August on it.  Not all of the records are in date order, but most of them are.  Sometimes, the sub-parish names are shown, and sometimes there are whole page sections for them.

5)  I found Anna Sjursdatter's death record on page 324 of this particular set of records.  Here is the page:

 Anna is #93 on the screen above.  Here is a snip of her death record:

So Anna died on 16 August 1826, was buried on 22 August 1826.  The name shown is Anna Sjursdtr, and she was on Gjelle farm.  She was 56 years old.  I don't know what the right-hand column is for.

6)  The DigitalArkivet website makes it easy to download an image of this record.  At the top of the record page is a button for PDF-1 and PDF-2.  When I clicked on PDF-1, I saw:

The PDF file has a nice reference area at the top with the name of the parish, the book number, the record type, the year, the page number on it.  There is also an URL for the specific image. A user can click on the URL and obtain the image file as a .JPG.  

From either the PDF or JPG, the user can go to the File menu, choose "Save As" and save the file.  I usually rename the file so that I can tell which person and event it is for.  For instance for Anna Sjursdatter's death file, my file name is:


I'll try to craft a source citation in another post.  

7)  This website is fantastic.  There are records for hundreds of Norwegian parishes, and thousands of record volumes, online at this site.  Now I can capture digital images of the records that I only noted in a notebook back in 1999 from the FHL microfilm.  I can also create a source and attach the record to a person in my family tree database and share it with the family.  

I know that I'm probably missing some important knowledge in these records (the birth and marriage records have much more text in the record).  Perhaps a kind reader will help me interpret the standard words in these records more accurately.  

The FamilySearch Wiki has an excellent article about Norway Church Records in

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Chris said...

I think the last column is occupation. Entries 88, 97 and 98 have no ages and the last column is Dødfødt which is stillborn. Record 93 is fattig which means poor. Dødfødt, gammel (old) and fattig are the same words in Danish.

Jana Iverson Last said...


Thanks for this information. I have an interest in Norwegian records as my dad was half Norwegian.

I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!

Vinny said...

Thanks Randy for letting know. Even I didn't know that some of the Norwegian church parish register books have been digitized. I'm glad to learn such educative lessons and looking forward to learn more about such records.

Laila N. Christiansen said...

Randy, instead of using the Google Translate to translate this - use the english version, that also translates the Source Information.

And also remember that if you want to save links to the information you found. Find the "image information", choose "on top" - then you will se information about the source, and these are the links you need to save (if you want to save links) the link in your browser dies after 20 minutes.

Finn Karlsen from Regional State Archive Trondheim will give a speach about this on THursday at 10.30 during Rootstech.

See you there!

Kenny B said...

Thanks! I appreciate this. I have been using the Digital Archives but I have been limited because of language and basic understanding of the culture. You and my FB friends are helping me overcome that.