Before jumping into the muddy waters of Pre-1700 Norwegian genealogy, this article by Lars Løberg, one of the most recognized contemporary Norwegian genealogists, is recommended reading:
Please note that there are extremely few sources before 1600 which are usable for Norwegian genealogy. Early 17th century sources consist mainly of fiscal registers. From the second half of the century, sources begin to become abundant, notably the male censuses of the 1660s; probate protocols and court protocols from about the same time. Parish registers, the staple of Norwegian genealogy, become widespread around 1700.
It should also be said that the Norwegian genealogical community is small, and almost nothing of modern Norwegian genealogy research is published in English for an international public.
- Those who are able to read old Danish-Norwegian handwriting, will find a cornucopia of scanned original documents at Digitalarkivet, the Norwegian National Archive's own web site. A small part has been transcribed and converted to searchable format. Here is the entry page for searches.
- Diplomatarium Norvegicum search - The printed edition consists of 23 volumes containing the transcription of approximately 20 000 diplomas connected to Norway in the period 1050 to 1590. Documents in Diplomatarium Norvegicum may be reliable in the sense that you can read that so-and-so is the son of so-and-so, but they're far too spread out in space and time to build genealogies upon. Many have tried, and failed miserably, often by introducing fictitious intermediate generations. Also, medieval sources are often written by persons who had their own axes to grind, and therefore may not always be taken at face value. It takes lots of expertise to assess those documents. Most of those relevant to living people are probably summed up in a couple of paragraphs, cf Lars Løberg above.
- Norwegian biographical lexicon is mostly correct, but contains disputed material.
Reliable with conditions
Find A Grave, Billiongraves and Slekt og Data Cemeteries in Norway would be deemed reliable only when a picture of the headstone is provided. Remember that even grave markers can have errors in name spelling and dates.
The Norwegian "Farm and Family Books", commonly known under the term "Bygdeboks" are, by and large, fairly reliable sources. They are usually written by authors who have worked for many years with the subject, backed up by local Bygdebok committees who have contributed with countless hours of groundwork, from interviews with old folks to archive transcriptions. In general, books produced after 1970 should be considered more reliable than the older ones. Claims about family lines extending back before the Reformation (1530s) should always be regarded with scepticism.
- A few books from the 1920s and 1930s present lines going back to the Viking kings through "conjectures", which in genealogy normally is an euphemism for "wishful thinking". In particular, the book "Vore Fælles Ahner" ("Our Common Ancestors") by C.M. Munthe should be avoided. Unfortunately, many family trees found on the Web are partially based on this book.
- There exists a considerable body of work produced by Americans with Norwegian ancestors about their Norse origins. Most of the older works suffer from their age, but even more recent works are out of touch with modern Norwegian research. A book by Henrik O. Lunde: Some Old Norse Families (Enoch Haga Publisher, Folsom California, 2009) deserves a special warning, as one may be tempted to believe that it builds on current Norwegian research status. Sadly, it doesn't. Lars Løberg wrote a review of this work in the periodical Genealogen in 2010, where his conclusion is: "The best that can be said about this book is that it may be useful to Anglophone readers who want to get an idea about how difficult the field of Norwegian medieval genealogy is, but who at the same time have the necessary critical sense to not automatically accept all of Lunde's aristocratic connections. For Norwegian-speaking readers, the book is worthless." Lars Løberg's article is republished on the Norwegian Slektshistoriewiki here: Some old norse families (bok).
- User-contributed family trees at sites like: FamilySearch, Ancestry, Geni, MyHeritage, Rootsweb, WikiTree, Geneanet etc.
- A tree without sources is insufficient as a source for WikiTree profiles.
- A tree with precise dates and places may be a good guide of where to look for original records. Please take the time to do so. In these cases it is courteous to give credit (under See also); however when the tree exists in multiple copies on the net you may not be crediting the original builder. Caveat: In quite a few cases, precise dates and places, particularly before 1700, may be signs of fabrication. Watch out for exact birth years and places before parish records exist.
- When a tree does present sources, please take the time to look up the original sources. Give credit.
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