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It is easy to get lost in the old church records.

We humans, and I believe many animals tend to look for patterns around us. When we believe we have found a pattern we expect it to be repeated and we act accordingly.

In 1812 the churchbooks with pre-printed forms were introduced in Norway. Before this the churchbooks were written pretty much as each minister saw fit. It can be hard to search these and I often tell people to look for patterns.

I was looking for the birth record of Beret Sivertsdatter. I knew she was born around 1790. I started out at the beginning of 1789 in the church records for Bolsøy parish. I was delighted as I discovered that the minister had split the page in two and recorded boys → “drengebørn” on the left side and girls → “pigebørn” on the right side. So I searched through the right side of each page hoping to find Beret. It turned out that each local parish were recorded in separate sections so the year kept jumping back and forth. When I had searched 1789 through 1791 I had still no hits.

I then started to look a little closer. It turns out that the minister kept the pattern with boys recorded on the left side and girls on the right side of the page from 1759 through 1793 BUT, one page in 1790, probably due to a larger number of girls being born, he recorded girls on both the left and right side. That is where I found Beret baptised on Feria 2, Pentecost. In 1790 this was May 24.

We can see that the minister have initially written boys → “drengebørn”, but have changed it to spell girls → “pigebørn”

It is hard to try to give any general advice on reading the pre 1812 church records. I believe I will still be looking for patterns, as these in many cases helps us searching these records. My lesson learned from this is to be more observant when the pattern change.

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