I am often asked to help people who are “totally stuck” with their search in Norway
I am sometimes surprised as it turns out to be a lot of information available. In these cases I suspect that people are searching only by way of the search feature in the Digitalarkivet.
This search feature is a great tool, but it does have its limitations. One of them is the fact that not all Norwegian sources are digitized and indexed.
In this article I will look at how we can check to see if the persons/actions we are looking for are likely to show up among the search results or if we have to find and go through the scanned source manually .
If no convincing results show up in a search, we need to have some sort of idea as to what geographical area our ancestor came from. You might want to have a look at my article “Find Norwegian place names” if you need to get the geography sorted out. Other relevant articles are “Old boundaries in Norway” and “Former municipalities in Norway”
In the opening page in Digitalarkivet, we start by going to “Select source”
This brings us to the “select source page”
This page has a search box at the top. In the illustration you can see that I have typed in “Veøy” as I will use this parish as an example.
The page has a check box to choose a “OR-search”. This means it is possible to search for several keywords/locations. I seldom use this function as I think it is best to stick to one search term at the time.
You can narrow down the time period, which can often be smart.
The page has five tabs. I will make a comment on a couple of them
- Source category: Depending on what you are looking for, you may want to narrow down your search. In an initial search for an ancestor, it might be smart to narrow down the search categories to Censuses and Church books/Parish registers.
- Geography: In this example I have searched for Veøy parish. Even though this name occur some other places in Norway, it is only one churchparish by this name. If you are searching for a more common name like Berg or Dal it can be wise to narrow down the search under the Geography tab.
- Organ: lists four subgroups that are not translated:
- Bergverk → Mining industry
- Industri → Industry (general)
- Kirkesamfunn i utlandet → Church congregations abroad
- Politi og lensmann → Police and sheriffs
- The two last tabs, Themes and Form, I believe is fairly self-explanatory.
This is the page that appears after we hit SEARCH:
I have put in markers in three areas:
- In this example I have narrowed down the timeperiod to a search for sources from the years 1700 to 1800.
- The two first hits listed are the church records (Ministerialbok) from Veøy parish (prestegjeld) for the years 1721 – 1764 and 1765 – 1799. The red box that covers the three columns to the right, show us that these books can only be browsed (as scanned images). No clerical actions recorded in these two sources will show up in a search.
- Going down to “Ministerialbok for Veøy prestegjeld 1799 – 1818” we see that we can browse the entire book. In addition, parts of this book is transcribed and can be searched:
- Fødte og døpte (Born and baptised) 1803 – 1817 (searchable 1799 – 1814)
- Viede (Weddings) 1803 – 1818 (searchable 1803 – 1814)
- Døde og begravde (Death and burials) 1803 – 1817 (searchable 1799 – 1818)
We see that there is an incongruity between the years listed and the years searchable in the categories “Born and baptised” and “Death and burials”. This churchbook was written on blank pages. In 1803 the minister made a change to the layout of the book and started to keep his different clerical actions together in separate sections. I believe that the transcriber has chosen to define the sections by the timeframe they covers, while he, in fact, has included actions from the chronological part of the book that covers the years 1799 to 1802. (I sure hope this makes sense!)
When we look at these results, it is important to note that only part of this church book is transcribed. As mentioned above there is a section in this book covering the years 1799 to 1802 where all the clerical actions are recorded together chronologically. If we are looking for a wedding that took place in these years, we have to browse the scanned images in the “chronological list” section.
There are sections in this book that are not transcribed. These are:
- Chronological list (parts of) (1799 – 1802)
- Confirmations (1803 – 1817)
- Vaccinations (1812 – 1821)
- Minister’s diary (Dagregister) (1803 – 1818)
- Notes (this book only contain one note (about rebinding of the book) added 1938)
I have used one parish as an example. This pattern is found with records throughout Norway. The Digital Archives in association with a large number of volunteers put in a lot of work to get more records transcribed and indexed. This means that a record not yet transcribed are likely to be so in the future.
If you need help navigating the scanned church records in Digitalarkivet, you might want to have a look at my article Church records in the “new” digital archives.
I hope this was of help for those who is struggling finding information about their ancestors using only the search feature in Digitalarkivet. Don’t hesitate to comment below or send me an email if something needs clarification or you have questions.
As I am often asked about searching in the Digital Archives, I plan to be back with more articles that may help you get good results from this Source. If you have not already done so, you might want to leave your email address in the subscription field on the home page and get a notice when I update this blog.