Norway Census

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A census is a count and description of the population. Censuses have been taken by the Norwegian government and by ecclesiastical officials for population studies and taxation purposes. Census and census-like records are found from the 1500s-2000. After 1900, a national census was taken every 10 years until 2000. Access to national censuses is restricted by for a period of 100 years after the date of enumeration.

Many municipalities also created censuses of their residents. These are usually available at the city archives or the regional state archives. As a general rule these are only restricted for a period of 60 years.

Usually the term census is applied to three record types:

  • Manntall - Usually lists of males only, sometimes recorded for purposes of enrollment in military service
  • Skattemantall - Tax lists which may include only specific parts of the populace
  • Folketellinger - Complete enumerations of the population

Census records may provide information about a person's:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Family relationships
  • Year of birth
  • Birthplace
  • Physical health (deaf, dumb, mute, etc.)

Census records are especially valuable because they list a large portion of the population. They provide information when records (or portions of records) are missing. Generally, you will find more detailed family information in more recent censuses. The census records identify birthplaces beginning in 1865. Use the information with caution, however, since some information may be incorrect. Remember the census records are secondary sources!

Records Prior to 1600[edit | edit source]

Aslak Bolts jordebok[edit | edit source]

This the first census-like registration in Norway. It was made about 1430 by Aslak Bolt (1377-1450), Archbishop of Nidaros. The registration was made for economic reasons as the Catholic church, which was the official religion of Norway at the time, was in serious debt. The Black Death had ravaged the country, and many farms were left desolate. Close to 2/3 of the Norwegian population had perished.

All properties were registered so taxes could be assessed. The registration includes the value of each property, amount of taxes paid (or not), and the name(s) of the owners. As the registration only applied to the archdioces of Nidaros it only include properties in Møre og Romsdal, Sør-Trøndelag, Nord-Trøndelag, and Nordland counties.

The first printed edition of was published by Peter Andreas Munch in 1852. A second version was produced in 1997 by the National Archives of Norway from the original manuscript in the Münchensamlingen (München Collection) in Riksarkivet in Oslo. The manuscript is in such poor condition that it is not available to the general public. In the print version the handwritten manuscript is shown on the left page, and a modern Norwegian language translation is given on the right page. The published version also includes an index by given-name, and place-name.

1600s[edit | edit source]

1664 to 1666: Two censuses were taken, one clerical done by the local priest, and one civil done by the local bailiff. These are called the "Titus Bülche censuses" named after Titus Bülche, a Danish official with responsibilities over church affairs who ordered these enumerations. These censuses cover the rural areas only. For some parts of Norway all or part of the census is missing. Finnmark county was not included. Records are organized by county, parish, and then by farm. The 1664 census only included males over the age of 12, but in the 1666 census younger boys may also be included.

The following information was given:

  • names and ages of the head of household
  • all male family members over age 12

These records are available on microfilm at the Family History Library with the titles Fogd og sorenskrivers manntall 1664-1666 and Sogneprestenes manntall 1664-1666. Scanned images are online at the Norway Digital Archives with the title 1663-1666 Church male census.

Other census records from the 1600's were:

  • "Koppskattemanntall" 1645/1646: a tax on persons
  • "Quægskatten" 1657/1658, which was a tax on cattle

1700s[edit | edit source]

1701: This census was taken September 1701, and includes all males age 1 and older. This census did not include Finnmark County or cities. Large portions of Agder County and the eastern part of Norway are lost. Scanned color images are available on the Digital Archives with the title Census (manntall) 1701. As of August 2019 the census at Digital Archives is only partially indexed. A black and white microfilm copy is available at the Family History Library under the title Manntall 1701, Norge : avskrift av kongelig befaling av den 26de juli 1701.

Mid-1700s: During this time period, a clerical census called a "Register of Souls" (sjeleregister) was taken. It is more of a true census than the previous ones listing all members of a family and all persons living with the family. Most of these records have been lost, but they have been preserved for some areas. Rogaland is the only county for which the entire 1758 census is preserved. Some "Register of Souls" can be found in the parish registers.

Other noteworthy census records include the following:

Oslo

  • Census for Vaterland in Christiania 1714

Telemark

Aust-Agder

  • Census of Arendal local parish august 22 1715
  • Census for Froland iron works 1793

Vest-Agder

  • Transcript: Census for Kristiansand from 1722 (pdf 6mb)

Bergen

  • 1714-census for Bergen
  • Census of Bergen citizens 9. mai 1714 (database version)

Møre og Romsdal

  • Census of Molde, May 28 1746
  • 1746 Census of men fit for sea service in Kristiansund

Sør-Trøndelag

  • Census of Trondheim, February 23 1736
  • 1769 Census for Rennebu in Meldal

Nord-Trøndelag

Nordland

Abroad

1800s[edit | edit source]

1801 The 1801 census was taken on 1 February is available on microfilm and microfiche at the Family History Library. The microfiche version is a typed index by given name and farm name. The census is searchable at Digitalarkivet and MyHeritage ($). Digitalarkivet has a page on searching with special search characters. The census includes:

  • All family members
  • All persons living with the family
  • Their relationships
  • Number of times married or widowed
  • Ages
  • Occupations
  • Names of farms
  • Those living in the cities

Censuses were taken regularly in 1815, 1825, 1835, 1845 and 1855 and are available under More Searches on the home page of the Digital Archives. The censuses are labeled as incomplete since they were purely statistical.

1865 The 1865 census has been microfilmed and is available at the Family History Library. The records for Gol in Hallingdal, Oppland County is missing. This is a link to abbreviations used in the 1865 census. The census is searchable at Ancestry.com and at Digitalarkivet.

The census includes the following additional details:

  • School districts within each parish
  • Indexes to farms and localities
  • Individual creeds, other than the national church
  • Number of domestic animals on each farm
  • Farm production

1870 The 1870 Census was taken December 31, 1870. It only covers the cities and seaports. There are many cites missing: Hølen in Vestby, Åsgårdsstrand, Hamar, Stathelle, Kragerø, Farsund, Sandnes, Stavanger, Vardø and Vadsø. The census is searchable at Digitalarkivet.

1875 The index for this census is incomplete. Partial indexes are available at Digitalarkivet, The Norwegian Historical Data Centre, and FamilySearch. The census was taken on 31 December 1875. This census is available on microfilm at the Family History Library. More information about this census is available at Norway Census, 1875.

1885 Like the 1870 Census this Census is also only for the cities and seaports, but it has an index, which is being put online! There were different forms used for the Lapps, Kveins, Finns, and persons of mixed nationalities. This census like the others is available under More Searches at the Digital Archives.

1891 The 1891 census was taken for the entire county and includes sailors. The people in the cities were asked to fill out the census forms themselves, while census takers went door to door in the country. More information about the census is available in the FamilySearch wiki article Norway, Census, 1891. The census is searchable at Digitalarkivet.

1900s[edit | edit source]

1900 The 1900 census was taken 3 December, 1900 and enumerates 2,315,654 individuals. All inhabitants were registered as to where they were at that time. The 1900 census also included data of individuals on Norwegians ships in harbors throughout the world and at sea. The census was kept on different forms. It contains 25,865 persons on 2,628 ships. Unfortunately, the 1900 census is not complete as some lists have been lost. More information about the census is available in the wiki article Norway, Census, 1900 - FamilySearch Historical Records.

Sections missing from the census are:

  • Bærum herred in Akershus (Vestre Bærum prestegjeld, 3,219 persons)
  • Risør kjøpstad in Aust-Agder (2 of 3 districts, 2,249 persons)
  • Siredalen herred in Vest-Agder (all, 1,644 persons)
  • Skien kjøpstad in Telemark (93 households from Districts 1-29 + all of disticts 30-35, about 3,000 persons)
  • Tysnes herred in Hordaland (District 3, 589 persons)
  • Also various lists of persons for the whole country. For example, 70 households in Bergen and about 50 in Trondheim are missing.

The census is available online at the Digital Archives, the The Norwegian Historical Data Centre, Ancestry.com ($), and on microfilm at the Family History Library. A list of abbreviations used in the 1900 census with their meaning is found at Digitalarkivet.

1910 The 1910 census includes 2,475,248 individuals and adds the full birth date. It has not been microfilmed and is not available at the Family History Library. However, it has been put online as a database at both the Digital Archives and The Norwegian Historical Data Centre. More information about the census is available in the wiki article Norway, Census, 1910 - FamilySearch Historical Records.

Microform Indexes[edit | edit source]

Search available indexes before using the actual census records. The information in an index may be incomplete or incorrect. If you believe your ancestor should have been in the census, search the census regardless of what you find in the index.

Street indexes are available for major cities throughout Norway. To use one you will need to know your ancestor's address for the time period of the census. You may search parish registers, letters, and other such records to find the address. A street index can help you find your ancestor faster in the census.

1801 Index All of the existing 1801 census has been indexed. (Holt and Dybvåg parishes in Aust-Agder county are missing; as well as Maridalen in Akershus county). 

Two indexes exist for each parish: the first is organized according to the names of the farms and the second according to the given name of each person living in the parish. Each county also has two indexes: one by given name and one by surname. To search the 1801 index, you will need to know the county in which your ancestor lived. These indexes can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under:

NORWAY, [COUNTY] - CENSUS - 1801 - INDEXES
NORWAY, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CENSUS - 1801

Later Census Indexes There are additional indexes for various parishes. These indexes are usually organized by given name and surname. To see if there are indexes from the area you are interested in, check the FamilySearch Catalog under one of the following:

NORWAY, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - CENSUS - [YEAR] - INDEXES

Searching Census Records[edit | edit source]

When searching census records, it is important to remember the following:

  • Given names may not always be as complete as the name recorded in church records.
  • There were no standardized spelling.  Most people spelled phonetically. Alternate spellings may use * as wildcard, or insert "|" between variant spellings.
  • Ages could be incorrect.
  • Information may be incorrect. We do not know who gave the information to the census takers.
  • Spellings of place names may vary.
  • If you do not find a family at the expected address, search the surrounding areas.

When you find your family in one census, search that same location in earlier and later census records for additional family members. Sources that may give street addresses for large cities in Norway include Church records of christenings, marriages, burials and probate records.

A handout from the Family History Library class, How to Search Census Records in Norway is available as a PDF file.

Signs and Symbols Used in the Indexes at the Digital Archives[edit | edit source]

In the transcripts there will occur signs and symbols which signify special relations in the original source or the electronically registered version:

(??) signifies that the handwriting in the original is indistinct or illegible (e.g. 'Kristi??')

(@) is used as a separator between two alternative readings of the original when it is impossible to decide which is the correct one (e.g. 'Even@Sven')

(%) indicates stricken out text in the source. If a word or a sentence is stricken out it is marked with a % in front and behind the stricken out word (e.g. 'Peder%Hans%')

(!!) signifies that this information in the source must be wrong for obvious reasons (!! alone in a field means that the information is missing)

An asterik (*) after a piece of information, e.g. a surname, indicates that the information is not given in the original, but included by the registrator on the basis of the information regarding the surrounding persons in the source

(E:) indicates that the following note is that of the registrator and not to be found in the source