It can often be difficult to find the name of a particular place or farm when searching for ancestors in Norway. I want to draw your attention to three tools that has been invaluable in my genealogical work.
You might find it useful to read my article “Norwegian farm structure” before you go on reading this.
It is important to remember that the same names may have been spelled slightly differently. The people writing down the records (ministers, census workers, tax collectors, etc.) often just spelled the farm name the way that it sounded to them.
Oluf Rygh’s “Norske Gaardnavne” – Norwegian Farmnames.
This was originally published, printed in 17 volumes in the late 1800’s. Today these books are digitized and made searchable on the internet. You can find it here.
The interface is fairly self-explanatory. I advise you to read the little introduction at the top of the page. The database is indexed according to the name of the counties (amt) as they were at the time the books were written. Also, be aware that the municipality-, and parish boundaries may have changed. Even if you don’t know anything about these details you can still use this database with ease as you can go straight to the “Farm name” and type in what you are looking for.
If you type in the name slowly letter by letter, a drop-down menu appear and show you how you are doing. This can be helpful if you are not certain about the spelling of the name. If the drop-down menu disappears before you are finished typing, the name is either misspelled or not included in this database. As the spelling of names has changed through time it can be smart to play a little with this drop-down menu as it can help you find names that are similar, and may turn out to be the one you are looking for.
The drop-down feature also works for the other search fields in the form.
Hitting “Search” will bring up a list of the farm/farms with the name you typed. The list will show you the farmnumber (second column), parish (third column), the municipality (fourth column) and finally the county/amt (fifth column). In the first column are boxes that you can check for the farm/farms you want to have a look at and hit “Show”.
Searching for names like Berg, Haug, and Li will give you a large number of hits, so you might want to print the entire list as a reference as you are working to narrow your search.
You should note that when you look at the farms in this resource you also get a list that shows how this particular farmname has been spelled at different times.’
Oluf Rygh’s “Norske Gaardnavne” – Norwegian Farmnames is not complete so when I don’t find what I am looking for there, I go to Se eiendom.
Another good map is found at Norgeskart.no . Unfortunately the interface is only in Norwegian
In the Seach field (SØK) we can enter letter by letter and get suggestions as we go.
When we have chosen a farm we get this menu. The two first items are the most interesting to us.
- See information about the property
- See facts about the name
Choosing “See information about the property” give us this menu
The translation of the first four items in this menu:
- Municipality number (in this case 1535)
- Municipality name
- Farm number
- Farmpart number
If we tick the box “MARKER EIENDOM” we can see the extent of the property on the map.
We can click “VIS MER INFORMASJON” → Show more information
This brings us to a “Faktaark” → Fact sheet
Much of the information in this fact sheet is the same as we saw in the first menu. We may, however, take a look in the lower left corner. I have put a ring around the name of the farm/farmpart. It can be wise to check this to see that we in fact are looking at the right farm. This is especially important when looking for a farmpart with a different name than the main farm.
The third source for finding Norwegian place names is “Matrikkelutkastet 1950”. This is a draft for a property register that was made in 1950.
This is a list of about 85 000 properties in Norway. This list does only contain properties in the rural districts, so the towns are not included. The county of Finnmark is not included either. You should note that since 1950 many rural municipalities has been united with cities, so if the farm you are looking for today is within a city municipality it might not have been so in 1950.
The area we live in was part of the old Skjevik farm. We are today within the borders of the town Molde. In 1950 this area was part of the municipality of Bolsø, thus it is included in the “matrikkelutkast.
The interface is only in Norwegian, but it is fairly straight forward. If you know what farm you are looking for you can go through the menu choosing county, municipality and farm. You then get a list of the sub-divisions (bruk). In the list that appeare, the number on top (in bold) is the farm number (Gardsnummer) the numbers below is the sub-division number (bruksnummer).
You can use the search option, by typing in the name of the farm you are looking for. Note; the search engine searches within the choice you have made in the hierarchy on the left. If you have no idea where the property you search for are situated, make sure you are at the list if counties when you make your search. If you know what county you want to search, choose the county name before you make your choice. Likewise if you want to restrict your search to a municipality.
By using the %-signs you can search for places that contains the word you search for. If you type %vik% you will get a list of all the place names in Norway that contain the word “vik”. This gives you large number of results that can be time-consuming to go through. You might try to think of a letter that can be added to focus the search.
This was a little introduction to how you can search for place names. I have used both Oluf Rygh’s “Norske Gaardnavne” – Norwegian Farmnames, Se Eiendom and Matrikkelutkastet 1950 in my own genealogy research. I hope you find this information useful. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments on this topic. There may be things that should be added or things that needs clarification. Go to contact and send me a word.
The user-interface is in Norwegian, but it is quite self-explanatory.
For more information about Norwegian geography check out Former municiaplities in Norway