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Categorizing Norwegian Parishes

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Surnames/tags: Norway Norwegian Parishes
Profile manager: Jarl Mosand private message [send private message]
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Categories: Norway | Norway Project.

Coordinated by the Norway project

Project Goal

The goal of this project is to discuss and establish a structure for categorizing Norwegian parishes.
Right now this project just has one member, me. I am Jarl Mosand.


The main source for genealogy in Norway are the church records. Priests have been writing records of their parishes births, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths and burials for several hundred years. Most parishes have records from around the beginning or the middel of the 1700's, Some go back to the 1600's.
A Norwegian Parish is understood to be in Norwegian a "Prestegjeld". Before 2004 the Norwegian church was organized in 11 "Bispedømmer" (before 1919 "Stift"). A "Bispedømme" consisted of several "Prosti". A "Prosti consisted of Several "Prestegjeld" and a "Prestegjeld" consisted of one or several Church parishes (Sogn/Sokn). As of 2004 the Norwegian church was re organized and the "Prestegjeld" was abolished. Now there are several "Sogn/Sokn" (Church parishes) in every "Prosti". A Municipalty can have one to several "Sogn/Sokn".
Parishes are also important in the history of local goverment. In 1838, the "formannskapsdistrikt" law was passed in Norway and it created civil municipalities "kommuner" that corresponded to the same borders as "prestegjelds". Prior to that time there was no local government in Norway apart from the church's parishes. In the beginning as parishes and municipalities were divided and sometimes merged. Peek fragmentation was reached around 1930 with 747 "kommuner". Today's municipalities have changes some, but their roots are all based on the "prestegjeld".
For genealogical purposes it is natural to use the pre 2004 organization.
The Norwegian Digital Archives (Digitalarkivet) has gathered and scanned most of these books and present them free of charge and they can be linked to with reference information. Some of the books are transcribed and are searchable.
The Norwegian Digital Archives also has other records relevant to genealogy. They are also organized by parishes. These are Censuses, Emigration records, Probate records, Seamen rolls and military rolls, School records, Health care records, Poverty matters, Accounts and tax lists, Deed registration records, Landed property tax records, Insurance records, Legal proceedings and sanctions and Clerical archives. It varies which parishes have which records.

The basic Idea

The basic idea is to establish categories of Norwegian parishes. The Norwegian Digital Archives has a list of all parishes that have existed and the history of these parishes, when they were established and if and when they have been reorganized and joined with other parishes. The information includes the parishes history and the church books that exists for that parish.
Norwegian Digital Archives history of parishes
It would be natural to use this information as a basis for the structure of the categories. Points to discuss would be.
  • How to organize translation.
  • Should the original Norwegian text be included.
  • How to link former parishes to existing parishes and to todays Municipalities.
  • Should the list of relevant church books be included.
  • Links to the Parishes page on Digitalarkivet.
I have made a test run for some Telemark Parishes
I'm sure there must be other points to be discussed. Join the discussion

Will you join me? Please post a comment here on this page, in G2G using the project tag, or send me a private message. Thanks!


On 1 Apr 2018 at 10:04 GMT Leif Biberg Kristensen wrote:

A few parishes have the same name as one in a different county, like eg. Bø in Telemark and Bø in Nordland. We'll need some way to disambiguate them, either by including the county name in all parish categories, or just in those cases where the parish names is ambiguous. In the example, we'll usually write "Bø i Telemark" or "Bø i Vesterålen".

On 12 Mar 2018 at 11:05 GMT Rolf Holte wrote:

Shouldn't there also be a category for Norwegian municipalities? I added context to link municipalities with its origins - parishes

On 30 Jan 2018 at 23:41 GMT Sigmund Pettersen wrote:

I have corrected the broken link to the history of parishes.

On 27 Dec 2017 at 16:34 GMT Thomas Overbeck wrote:

Just to let you know, the "Norwegian Digital Archives history of parishes" link has gone bad. I clicked on it and got a 404 error.

On 22 May 2017 at 14:36 GMT Cliff Lien wrote:


I think the way you have organized the Telemark parishes is great. The link to the DigitalArkivet page is an excellent idea.

Cliff in Alberta

On 22 May 2017 at 14:32 GMT Cliff Lien wrote:

A couple of thoughts...

- Most of the people who will need help with these categories will be non-Norwegians so the category structure should probably be Norske/English? ie: Fylke/County Prestegjeld/Parish Sogn/Sub-Parish

- Fylke/County should be listed in their numerical order not alphabetical order because nearly every online source has the Fylkes listed that way?

- FamilySearch Catalog has excellent Norske/English information on Parish histories. Changes in the parish borders, notice of books that are lost/destroyed etc. I do a Place search for the parish then choose Church Records from the list...

On 12 Oct 2016 at 23:26 GMT Jennifer (Gage) Reyes wrote:

I am very interested in trying to organize the parishes for this project.

After trying to figure out on my own and through my own researchn how to understand the system in Norway, I am sure that more people are just as confused as I was and still am in some areas. Whatever I can do to help just let me know. I am in process of trying to figure out how link former parishes to current parishes/municipalities.