Village histories and genealogies

Village histories and published genealogies give information about the inhabitants of a village or the history of a specific family.

Foto: Håkon Prestkværn/Domkirkeodden

Find your family in a village history book, called “bygdebøker” in Norwegian

A village history is a book telling the story of the families in one or several villages or country areas. Many of them contain detailed genealogical information about the inhabitants of each farm or habitation in the specified area. A large percentage of these books are now available in digital form from the National Library of Norway. Many are also available from public libraries in Norway.

Is there a published genealogy for your family?

Published genealogies are books or magazine articles about a specific family, and are available for some inherited Norwegian family names. (NB. Due to the Scandinavian system of patronyms which was the common form of surname in previous centuries, only a small percentage of surnames were inherited, usually the family names of persons of the higher classes of society.)

  • The Slekt1 website has a list of published genealogies
  • “Norske Slektsbøker” by Morten Hansen contains a bibliography of published genealogies
  • ”Norsk Slektshistorisk Bibliografi”  by Jan Fredrik Solem is a bibliography of published genealogies

Both of the above-mentioned books are available in digital form from the National Library of Norway. Although they are written in Norwegian, the alphabetical register of family names may be of help. NB. Both of these bibliographies were published many years ago and are therefore incomplete, since many genealogies may have been published more recently.

Always check with original sources

When you use village histories or printed genealogies, it’s important to remember that these are secondary sources, and the information they contain is not necessarily 100% accurate. So always compare this information with what you can find in primary sources such as vital records, parish records, censuses etc. Nevertheless, these books are excellent research aids and may save you a lot of time-consuming searching. It’s far easier to check the details found in these books than to research it all from scratch.


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