Categories: Norway Project.
This page is used to address common questions that come up in the Norway project. Part of the Norway Project
Project Norway - FAQ
The convention for using Norwegian names, pre the adoption of surnames in Norway in 1921, can be a complex topic for non-Norwegian genealogists. The convention also varied across the class structure with nobility later adopting the Patronymic (sometimes the mother's name) as a surname. At times, particularly when migrating to countries with hereditary surnames (like United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) an individual chose a surname either based on their departure location (a farm name) or a parent, generally a father.
Also note that records were generally not written by the individual concerned. They were often written by civil servants, mostly clergy, who were either Danish or who had their education in Denmark – and wrote Danish. Thus there are variations in names of a person depending on the record concerned.
The Wikitree convention is to use the name that the person was known by. These can often be found in the family records and family books. A good source for records is at the Digital Archives Norway.
If you are unsure where to look or how to use name field on wikitree a general rule of thumb for genealogists, across most genealogy platforms, Wikitree, Ancestry, Geni and others, is to adopt a three-part naming system:
- First name: all given names
- Patronymic: Olsdatter, Sveinsson, Nilsen etc, showing the given name of their father
- Farm name: the name of the farm where they were born or lived – this would change when people moved, but is the name that can best be used to find a person’s origin
If you are unsure of which convention to use the commonly adopted convention on wikitree was addressed here: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/97209/correct-way-to-enter-norwegian-names (answer by Kitty Brewster) and here: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/136053/entering-old-norwegian-names More detail is available here: http://www.norwaydna.no/gedcoms-and-genealogy/norwegian-names-en/
If you are in doubt then please use:
- First Name into Proper First Name field
- Patronymic into Middle Name
- Farm Name into LNAB; if a later farm then please use Current last Name field for later farm name.
What's a patronymic?
In many cultures, a child's surname is based on his or her father's first name. That was the case in Norway. If the father was Ole Nelsen, his son's name might be Lars Olsen (Ole' son). His daughter might be Olava Olsdatter (Ole's daughter). Yes, the son and daughter had slightly different last names. These last names were sometimes abbreviated. The "datter" suffix could be shortened to "dtr" or "dr". This naming practice died out in more modern times (close to the 1900s). At that point, the last name became frozen for subsequent generations.
What do you mean by Farm Name?
The "farm name" is a location, often a farm or small community, sometimes a village. This location statement was often used by migrants arriving in the United States, in particular, to identify themselves and differentiate one Olafson from another. It became common practise, particularly in the United States, to adopt this as a "surname".
Do you have some tips about narrowing down searches on the Norwegian Digital Archive site? The results I get seem so random when I use the text search. I'll put in a name, a location and a date, and seemingly get every other name, date, and place. There must be a better way to enter my information.
Where Do I start?
The below may help in determining what date is being referenced in parish records, since many don't provide the actual date, but the name of a religious event, such as "søndag etter Hellig Tre Kongers Dag". The calendar below may help you find the actual date of the event. https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Moveable_Feast_Day_Calendar_for_Norway
This topic is addressed on: the category page which has localities defined. The project is also working to further define the Parishes used by genealogists and this work, not yet complete, is here: Categorizing Norwegian Parishes.
The Norwegian Digital Archives were recently updated. Here is a link to the English version of the Digital Archives: https://www.digitalarkivet.no/en/
Some of the words one may find on a Norwegian census or other record:
|Norwegian Word||Abbreviation||English Word|
|bo; bodde||live; lived|
|dø; død||die; death|
|enke; enkemann||e.||widow; widower|
|født(e); Fødeår||birth; birth year|
|gutt; gutter||boy; boys|
|kone; hans kone||wife; his wife|
Here is a link to a Norwegian to English translation page, by Smartlink Corporation. The site can be used for non-commercial, personal use. Translations are limited to 1000 characters. Be aware that translations are not always perfect.
Æ Ø Å æ ø å
You can cut and paste the characters above, or, when using an English keyboard on a Windows computer, an alternative method is to use the numbers keypad, and type the code by holding down Alt key + the number below for the desired symbol:
|Alt +||4-digit code||symbol|
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