The National Archives of Norway

The National Archives and the regional state archives (statsarkivene) together form the National Archives Services of Norway (Arkivverket).

The National Archives are headed by the Director General (Riksarkivaren). The National Archives of Norway is an independent government authority under the Ministry of Culture. The authority of the Director General and the National Archives of Norway is vested in the Archival Act of 1992.
The tasks of the National Archives and the regional state archives are

  • to preserve archive material from state institutions
  • to make this material available for use to the public
  • to control the work on records administration within the ministries, regional and county authorities
  • to contribute to the preservation of private archives

The National Archives and the regional state archives are thereby both administration bodies and scientifically based institutions for culture preservation.

Made by Daniel Dahn

What will you find in the Archives?

The National Archives (Riksarkivet) preserve the non-current records of government ministries and other central offices. Documents from these institutions are brought to the National Archives when they are 25 years old and out of administrative use. There are more than 125 000 metres of documents kept in the National Archives and the amount increases with approximately 4000 metres each year. The oldest complete document is from 1189 A.D.

The regional state archives (statsarkivene) preserve documents from the regional and local branches of the state administration in their districts. There are eight regional archives in Norway and a Sámi Archives. They are situated in Oslo, Hamar, Kongsberg, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø.The Sámi Archives is situated in Kautokeino and is responsible for public archives of importance to the Sámi community, history and culture.

Both the National Archives and the regional state archives preserve private archives from companies, organizations, political parties and private people.

The official records in the archives mirror the tasks of the government and official institutions through the centuries. They contain applications and decisions, court sentences, surveys and accounts. In addition the archives include different kinds of registrations, for example censuses and church records. The material is organized according to the authority which was in charge, not according to topics. You must therefore follow the trail of each case and you may have to look for it in several places in the archives.

Visitors from the United States and Canada who are interested in finding their ancestors and relatives in Norway, will find more information in the article "How to trace your ancestors in Norway". Visitors who are able to read Norwegian, will find a register of the archive material in the National Archives and the regional archives in the two handbooks "Håndbok for Riksarkivet" and A. Kiil’s "Arkivkunnskap. Statsarkiva.".