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Norway Quick Start 

Seeking your Ancestors in Norway

By Orval Skousen


Click here for expert help  |  Click here for additional research at Wiki


If you know your Norwegian ancestors' names and when and where they lived in Norway, skip to Section 2.  If you do not know the above information from your immigrant ancestor, continue below with Section 1.


Section 1:  The Search Strategy


  1. Gather what you and your family know to identify your ancestors in each generation.

a.  Names, Dates and Places; Birth, Marriage, and Death

b.  Children, Spouses, Parents, Brothers and Sisters

c.  Addresses, Occupations, Pictures and Documents

d.  Adoptions both legal and family; Other names

e.  File this information in an organized manner both on a computer and in file folders


  1. Trace  your family to the place of first immigration (do the research in America.)  You do this by researching for the same information listed above using: 

a.  Census records.  They can be either state or federal.  Use or (free at Mesa Regional Family History Center).

b.  Vital records.  These are usually county but can be church records (birth, marriage, death records.)

c.  Internet goodies.  They may be found with Google or other search engines.

d.  Military Records.  See Military Quick Starts.

e.  Land Records.  See Land Record Quick Start.

f.  Probate records.  These are usually county.  See Probate Record Quick Start.

g.  Written histories.  These can be both local, family and ethnic.


  1. Jump the Atlantic with your immigrant to a specific County (Fylke) and Parish (Prestegjeld)

a.  If you know the town where your ancestor was born or lived in Norway, get a map from to find the county and commune.  (See the instruction sheet)

b.  Find the immigration routes of most Norwegians. (See the Immigration Quick Start Guides)

c.  Find the ships that sailed from those ports, look at passenger lists.

d.  Check immigration lists from Norway if they exist for that time period. (See the Immigration Quick Start Guides)

e.  If it was likely that your immigrant was a member of a group that immigrated to a specific place, check histories and other people of the group.  They probably came from the same area in Norway.

f.  Be careful to look for name changes when entering this country.  For example:  Peder Mortensen's son Anders Pedersen became  Anders Mortensen  when he came to this country.  You won't find any records of him in Denmark using his American name and probably not on a passenger list either.  This is also true of Norway.


Section 2:  I know my immigrant ancestor's name and last county and sogn in Norway.

  1. Get some online tools.  Go to (see the Instruction sheet.)  This is a Danish site, but the information is applicable to Norwegians also.

a.  Helpful hints for genealogists

b.  Name lists for men and women in Danish,  English old Gothic hand script.

c.  Genealogy dictionary with Danish, English and old Gothic hand script.

  1. Check the census records. The main ones are 1801, 1865 and 1900.  Start with the one closet to the birth year if possible.  Go to to search an indexed census database by individual.  This site is easily navigated in English.  The data is in Norwegian.

  2. Search this site to find the original census records digitized. (See the site instructions)

a.  Follow the family forward in the census records until the parents have died.

b.  Follow the family back in the census records to parents' marriage.

  1. Check the Church Records.  Use parish records of births, confirmation, marriage, death and moving in or out to verify information on family members.  Go to for digitized Lutheran church record books.  Not all sogns (Prestegjeld) have been put online yet.  The project is expected to be finished in 2008.   (Use the Instructions for this site.)   If your records are not available on line, order them from the Salt Lake Family History Library.  Go to  Library, Index, Location and finally get the microfilm or microfiche film number.

  2. Check the Military Levying records for male family members from the Family History Library.

  3. Look for probate information on parents from the Family History Library.

  4. Search free Norway digitized parish records - Arkivverket Digitalarkivet - Select County, Select ALL for parish.  Click to go there.  Select parish and type of records and time period.  Also a good FREE Scandinavian dictionary and translator. 

    Section 3:   Other Tools

    1. Research Outlines for Norway (Copy Room)

    2. Word list for Norway (Copy Room)

    3. Postdjrekoratet Norsk Stedsfortengnelse Fiche # 5054629

    4. Gerhard B. Naeseth, Norwegian Immigrants to the United States,  973/F24z4.

    5. Norwegian/English dictionaries found in the reference stacks.

    6. Cyndi's List  has a list of categorized sites for Norway. This site is easy to navigate in English.

    7.  Norwegian Farm Names  is a site with farm information in Norway.

    8.  This site is easy to navigate in English.  It has a good port to part of the censuses.

    9.   One needs to read Norwegian to use this site effectively.

    10. Previous Page