Norwegian ministers started the registration of births/christenings, engagements/marriages and deaths/burials in the 17th century.
The oldest parish register, or kirkebok (church record), that is kept, is from Andebu dated 1623. From around 1720 parish registers became more frequent and detailed in more and more parishes.
In 1812 the first set registers were made, and the ministers got a norm to follow when filling in the information. These registers were improved in 1820 and 1877.
Birth, marriage and burial
Registers about newborns include for example:
name and occupation of parents
names of godparents
There was one section each for boys and girls.
Records about married couples include for example:
- engagement dates
- marriage dates
- residence or home parish of the groom
- their father’s names (sometimes also their mother’s names)
Wedding information is commonly found in the parish registers from the home parish of the bride.
Burial records include for example:
Sometimes special notes are made about certain events, accidents etc. The parish clerk normally kept a separate register with similar information and where parish registers have been lost, information can be found in hisklokkerbok.
Parish registers also have sections for:
immigrants and emigrants to and from the parish
lists of confirmed teenagers
records of people not belonging to the lutheran church and their births, marriages and deaths (kept in the parish registers up to around 1930)
Where to find the registers
The original parish registers are usually kept with the local church until 80 years after the last entry, until they are deposited with the regional state archives. All Norwegian parish registers up to around 1930 that are deposited with the regional state archives, are scanned and available on the Digital Archives. Many public libraries also have copies of parish registers available on microfilm or -fiche.
The information in parish registers is restricted for use until it is 60 years old, in some cases 80 or 100 years old.
Important to know
Information can vary from parish to parish and over time. Unfortunally much informa-tion is often missing. Please note that the old parish registers are written in gothic style handwriting and that the ministers’ handwriting often can be very difficult to decipher.
History of the parishes and local parishes in Norway
The borders of the parishes and local parishes have changed throughout the years. By learning how these borders have changed, you can find the correct church registers to look up.
This history of the parishes is an edited version of the old microfilm-index of the National Archives. Initially this was a list of church registers available on mircofilm. The document has been revised to the current version. The history of the borders is updated to the beginning of the 20th century.
Henceforth the church registers will be digitised and published in the Digital Archives from the original protocol. This history will not be updated with later church registers. The list of available church registers for the National Archives will be found in Arkivportalen.
Unfortunately, the detailed history for each county is in Norwegian.