MyHeritage Releases Major Collection of Historical Norway Church Records, 1815–1938

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We are pleased to announce the addition of a new Norwegian historical record collection — Norway Church Records, 1815–1938. The records in this collection were digitized in collaboration with the National Archives of Norway (Arkivverket), and consist of 42.2 million indexed records and high quality scans of the original documents. The records include births & baptisms, marriages, and deaths & burials. This release is the first time the collection’s images are fully indexed and searchable — making it easier than ever to research your Norwegian ancestors. The addition doubles the number of Norwegian historical records on MyHeritage and brings the total number of historical records on MyHeritage to 12.6 billion.

Search Norway Church Records, 1815–1938

The years covered by the collection were significant in Norway’s history. In 1814, Norway seceded from Denmark, and with it, a new national identity began to emerge. 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church has been the state church in Norway since 1536, and its pastors acted on behalf of the government to collect and preserve vital records. This important collection helps overcome the significant gaps in Norwegian censuses taken from 1801 to 1865. Though five censuses were collected in Norway during those years, they did not record names of individuals, making these church records the definitive source for genealogical data during this period.

Birth and Baptism (Fødte / Døpte) Records

By decree issued in June of 1814, children were to be baptized or have a confirmation of baptism at the parish church before the child was nine months old. However, it was customary for children to be baptized or “christened” within a few days or weeks of birth. 

The records contain the birthdate and the baptism date, both parents’ names, marital status, place of residence, the child’s legitimate or illegitimate status, and the names of godparents and witnesses.

Due to Norwegian privacy laws, the birth & baptism records released in this collection extend until the year 1919 (inclusive).

Patronymic surnames were widely used in Norway until 1923. For example, children of a man with a first name of Erich would have the patronymic surname Erichsdatter (for his daughter) or Erichsen (for his son). In 1923, the Norwegian Names Act was passed which required each family to use a single, hereditary last name.

In the Norway Church birth and baptism records, a child was often recorded with only his or her given name(s) without an expressly recorded surname, as it was assumed the child would take either a patronymic surname from their father or take a hereditary surname. 

To overcome the challenge of the missing surname, MyHeritage inferred two possible surname variations for each individual, so users can search for either the patronymic or hereditary surname to find the correct record. For example, if an infant was listed in the birth register as the son of Erich Berg, but without a surname, MyHeritage indexed the patronymic Erichsen and the surname Berg so this person can be found by searching either of them as the surname. For a daughter, the patronymic Erichsdatter would be indexed along with the surname, Berg. This is the way records were indexed by MyHeritage to make them discoverable, but the actual records were not modified, and the surnames were not inserted into them, to preserve their authenticity.

Marriage (Viede, Copulerede, Ægteviede) Records

Traditionally, marriages occurred in the bride’s home parish if the bride and groom were from different communities. Marriage records include the bride’s and groom’s names, birthplaces, marriage date, ages, and often their places of residence and occupation. Records also indicate whether the bride or groom were single or widowed before the marriage. After the 1830s the records frequently include the names of both the bride’s and groom’s fathers.

Due to Norwegian privacy laws, marriage records extend until 1937 (inclusive).

Death and Burial (Døde / Begravede) Records

Burials traditionally took place in the parish where the person died, and burial records were recorded in the parish where the person was buried. Burials usually took place about a week after the death. In winter, the burial could have been delayed for several weeks or even months as graves were difficult to excavate and cold temperatures allowed for sanitary and temporary holding of a deceased person’s remains above ground. Burial records include the burial date, the name of the deceased person, their age, place of residence, and cause of death. Records of stillbirths (dødfødte) were recorded with the death and burial records and a section in the death registers were allocated for these, although this practice was not perfect, and one can find stillbirths recorded in the births and baptisms.

 Due to Norwegian privacy laws, the death & burial records extend until 1938 (inclusive).

Witnesses and Other Persons Named in the Records

Since godparents and witnesses are not included in the index it is important to examine the associated image and to consider the other persons listed in records of interest for possible identification as family members or other relatives.

Records of Nonconformists and Dissenters

The 1845 Nonconformist Act recognized Christian dissenter denominations but required those from dissenting denominations to notify the pastor of their local Lutheran parish of births and marriages for registration and inclusion in the Lutheran Church Records. However, relatively few people in Norway belonged to these nonconformist religions.

Duplicate Records

The record keeping reforms of the early 1800s established that duplicate copies of the church books be made. These copies were kept by the parish bell ringer (klokkeren) and the bell ringer and the pastor were to compare and cross-check their church books twice a year. The copies made by the bell ringer, the “bell books” (klokkerbøker), were not to be kept overnight in the same location as the pastor’s copy. This practice was to help eliminate errors in the records and preserve a copy in case the other copy was destroyed by fire or otherwise lost. The images in this collection include some duplicate records that appear to have been archived together from these practices of making a second copy.

Sample Records

To give you a taste of what you may find in this collection, here are a few sample records of notable figures in Norway’s history.

Baptism Record of Robert Collett

In this collection is the baptism record of Robert Collett, the son of renowned Norwegian writer Jacobine Camilla Collett. Camilla Collett is most famous for her novel Amtmandens Døtre, meaning, “The District Governor’s Daughters,” which critiques the practice of forced marriages and other aspects of Norwegian patriarchal society. The book was one of the first literary works of the Social Realism movement — a movement that shed light on the issues of the working class. Her husband, Peter Collett, a literary critic and outspoken politician, encouraged her to write.

Portrait of Camilla Collett, 1860. [Credit: National Library of Norway]
Portrait of Camilla Collett, 1860. [Credit: National Library of Norway]
Their son Robert’s baptism record, seen below, shows his birthdate of September 2, 1842, his baptism date a few months later, April 18, 1843, and location, Oslo, Norway. The record includes his mother’s full maiden name, Jacobine Camilla Vergeland, and his father’s full name Peter Jonas Collett.

Baptism record of Robert Collett, 1843 [Credit: MyHeritage Norway Church Records, 1815-1938]
Baptism record of Robert Collett, 1843 [Credit: MyHeritage Norway Church Records, 1815-1938]

Marriage Record of Henrik Ibsen

The marriage record of playwright Henrik Ibsen to Suzannah Daae Thoresen is found in this collection. One of the most influential playwrights of his time, Ibsen’s works, which include, Et dukkehjem, A Doll’s House, continue to be performed today.

Portrait of Henrik Ibsen by Henrik Olrik, 1879. [Credit: National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo]  
Portrait of Henrik Ibsen by Henrik Olrik, 1879. [Credit: National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo]
In the marriage record, seen below, are details of Henrik and Susanne’s marriage, which took place on June 18, 1858 in Korskirken, Bergen, Norway. Also included in the record is Henrik’s birthdate and place, March 20, 1828 in Skeie, Norway; his father’s name, Knud Ibsen; Susanne’s birthplace, Harøe Præstgjeld, Norway; and Susanne’s father’s name, Hans Conrad Thoresen.

Marriage record of Henrik Johan Ibsen and Susanne Daae Thoressen, 1858. [Credit: MyHeritage Norway Church Records, 1815–1938]
Marriage record of Henrik Johan Ibsen and Susanne Daae Thoressen, 1858. [Credit: MyHeritage Norway Church Records, 1815–1938]  

Burial Record of Edvard Grieg

The burial record of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg can be found in this collection. Edvard famously incorporated elements of Norwegian folk music and helped define a new Norwegian musical identity that would gain international acclaim. Edvard was born in the city of Bergen, Norway, and also died there. In celebration of Edvard’s musical legacy, the city of Bergen established a museum, a music hall, and a music school in his name.

Edvard Grieg on the Grand Piano, circa 1900. [Credit: The Oslo Museum]
Edvard Grieg on the Grand Piano, circa 1900. [Credit: The Oslo Museum]
Edvard Grieg’s burial record, seen below, includes his date and place of burial, September 9, 1907 in Bergen, Norway. It also includes his date and place of birth, June 15, 1843, Bergen, Norway.

Burial record of Edvard Grieg, 1907. [Credit: MyHeritage Norway Church Records, 1815-1938]
Burial record of Edvard Grieg, 1907. [Credit: MyHeritage Norway Church Records, 1815-1938]

Summary

The Norway Church Records 1815–1938 collection is an indispensable resource for anyone who is looking to learn more about their Norwegian roots during this time period. With the release of this collection, MyHeritage now offers 80 million historical records from Norway, 57 million historical records from neighboring Sweden, and 107 million records from Denmark, positioning MyHeritage as the leader in Scandinavian family history research.

Searching the Norway Church Records on MyHeritage is completely free. If you have a family tree on MyHeritage, our Record Matching technology will notify you automatically if records from these collections match your relatives. To view these records or to save records to your family tree, you’ll need a Data or Complete subscription.

Enjoy the new Norwegian collection!

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  • Gawain Umphrey


    October 13, 2020

    This is awesome

  • Russell K Hackman


    October 13, 2020

    Looking for Hackman relatives.

  • Doreen Bateman


    October 14, 2020

    Is the name Thorington in any records please.

  • Michael kalil


    October 14, 2020

    All it’s been good no comment

  • Lidderdale


    October 14, 2020

    My maternal grandmother was Jane Lidderdale, is that a norwegian name ?

  • Pama Lyons


    October 14, 2020

    It’s great to have all this information.

  • Dan White


    October 14, 2020

    Where do I find your price list?

  • Eric


    October 14, 2020

    sounds good.

  • Kevin V Hunt


    October 14, 2020

    Fabulous! Thank you so much. Very exciting.

  • Jill Whitney


    October 14, 2020

    I believe that this new info will possibly apply to me. My Grandfather Terry Warlum, Alamosa, Colorado was really Torrevolt Olson from parents from Oslo, Norway. I was born in 1935, April 16 in Denver, Colo,.
    and I don’t know when my Grandfather arrived or if he was born here somewhere.

  • ROBIN TORGERSEN


    October 14, 2020

    Hopefully, this site will allow us Brits to follow up on our distant past. My grand father left Oslo in about 1900 and although I have a list of his siblings I know very little else. Well done

  • Beth Kolle


    October 14, 2020

    This is a wonderful resource, gathered from all the ‘kirkebøker’, which should make it easier for us to search. Thank you!

  • Wanda Carter


    October 14, 2020

    This is great. Thank you for sharing t hi is information.

  • Sybil Austin Skakle


    October 14, 2020

    I want to find the heritage of the Odin family

  • Joan McGrew


    October 14, 2020

    My grandmother who was born in Farsund and she had 8 siblings. Many still live in Norway but I have no way of finding them. I know their surname but the women have probably married and changed their name

  • Earnest Justus


    October 15, 2020

    Looking for Justus relatives.

  • Marlene Jean Brethauer


    October 15, 2020

    anything I can find out about our family will be wonderful.

  • Sybil A.Skakle


    October 15, 2020

    Looking for Skakle and Odin Ancestor
    Possibly Johnson.

  • Pat Allen


    October 15, 2020

    Disappointed that your small notable samples didn’t include Ronald Dahl, as he has big Cardiff (Wales) connections and I am from Cardiff.

  • MARY ANNE HOADLEY


    October 15, 2020

    I appreciate this resource very much. My DNA reveals that I am over 20% Scandinavian

  • Mary McDaniel


    October 15, 2020

    I am looking into Kristian Kroh and other relatives from the Brunsell name

  • Wise Wise


    October 15, 2020

    I don’t know anything about my family

  • Penelope Mathis


    October 15, 2020

    Anxious to see more! Looking for more Kenworthy or Le Baron family

  • Patricia Davenport


    October 15, 2020

    This is soo interesting and exciting. Thank you.

  • John Vestergaard


    October 16, 2020

    We very married in the Norwegian seaman’s church in Neutral Bay Sydney NSW 26-1-1962
    Are we there? John and Wendy Vestergaard

  • Carl M Ciminelli


    October 16, 2020

    Scouten and it’s coat of arms

  • Louella Walker


    October 17, 2020

    Thx

  • Debbie


    October 18, 2020

    I am doing genealogy on my families and would love to check out My Heritage.

  • Louine Anne Tay


    October 20, 2020

    Looking for information on a Halvard Hansen who was in the Riverland, South Australia, around 1917

  • Ogahiy


    October 21, 2020

    I am searching Sulton Hamzayev Who died II World War in Germany. can you help me to find him…

  • bill Deer


    October 24, 2020

    Where would I find Norway records prior to 1815 ? I have Norwegian ancestors who settled in Wales prior to 1747..Any ideas ??