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Instructions for searching NHDC's censuses of 1865, 1875 and 1900

These instructions explain how to search the censuses of the year 1865, 1875 and 1900. In addition there is an explanation of abbreviations found in the source.

The number of fields shown in this version is somewhat more limited than in the original, because information regarding religious beliefs, sickness, citizenship, ethnicity and language has been left out. However, all individuals are included. A complete census can be ordered from NHDC.

Articles about the Norwegian census records etc.

How to use the search engine

The search engine displays three or four different screens:

  1. The first screen is the main menu where search strings are entered.
  2. The second screen shows check boxes for municipalities where data are available. This screen will appear only if the the check box Limit your search criteria to one or more parishes is selected and the check box for county or area is selected.
  3. The third screen shows the results of the search in an alphabetic list of names.
  4. The fourth screen shows habitation and personal data for the people living with the person above, cf. point 3.

The first screen:

In this example we have entered the search string sig in the first name box and nil in the surname box.


  • Search for the three letters above in the first name box will show all the instances beginning with sig, like Signe, Sigrid, Sigurd, Sigvard, etc.
  • Searching for the three letters above in the last name box will show all the instances beginning with nil, like Nilsdatter, Nilsen, Nilstun etc.
    In the example above these two search criteria have been combined.
  • There is no difference between capital and other letters in the search box.
  • The program will not accept numerical values or symbols like -, /, +, ?, *.
  • One or more spaces between the first and middle name boxes will be accepted. It is thereby possible to search for first names and middle names such as Sigrid Anna.
  • You select one of the census year and initiated the search by pressing the button labeled Search

  • The search criteria can be deleted by pressing the Reset-button. (See the segment of the screen above.)
  • Click in one or more of the boxes if you want to search in specific areas or counties. (See the segment of the screen below.)

  • If none of the check boxes are selected, the search will start for all municipalities in the entire database.
  • If only the check boxes for counties are selected, the search will start for the specified counties.
If you for instance limit the search to only one area, Troms county, the following list will turn up. This list gives you the possibility to specify one, or as many municipalities you prefere, if you click in the boxes.

The second screen:

The search results

The search result is shown in a list alphabetized by the individuals' last names. (See below).

The third screen:

The list of persons living at this domicile contains five pieces of key information from the censuses whisc are (see below):

  • Municipality, Name, Occupation, Year of birth, Place of birth

If you click on in the list, a new list (see below) displays information about the domicile and the individuals registered to that domicile. In this example we want information on the person called Sigfride Nilsdatter. Please note that the name of family comes first in the alphabetic list above.

The fourth screen:


The upper part of the screen contains information of domicile. Empty domicile-related fields will not be shown.

For rural censuses the list may contain the following domicile data:

  • Census year, Municipality, Municipality number, Name of place of habitation, Secondary buildings

For urban censuses the list may contain the following domicile data:

  • Census year, Municipality, Municipality number, Street name, City district, House owner, Number of flats
The example shown below is cut out from the census 1900 from the city of Ålesund.

The lower part of the screen contains the information of persons living at the domicile. The list contains the following data:

  • Name, Family status, Marital status, Occupation, Birth year, Birth place

As shown above you can see that the mouse pointer is located at the person concerned. This is the final level in the seach program.

Information in the source

The machine-readable version of the census of 1900 is mainly registered using the standard of registration HISTFORM. However, some of the censuses registered at NHDC have been registered before this standard was established, and will therefore deviate somewhat for the time being.

For more information: HISTFORM: Felles registreringsinstrukser for folketellingene 1865-1910 (Common instructions for registration of the censuses 1865-1910). These lay down the principles of registration saying how the information is to be registered true to the source, that is, recorded sign by sign in data fields corresponding to the columns of the source.


  • The names of individuals in the census are registered true to the source, except names are recorded in separate first name and surname fields.
  • Abbreviated patronymics have been expanded with "-sen" or "-datter", for example "Hansen" or "Hansdatter". Patronymics ending in "søn" or "zen" are registered completely, like 'Olssøn' and 'Lauritzen'. The same goes for Swedish patronymics like 'Haakansson' and 'Karlsdotter'.----->
  • If an individual's last name is lacking in the source, and it is easy to determine from surrounding entries what surname (patronymic or family name) should have been given, this "implicit" last name is registered in the individual's field, marked with a star behind it (*). This has not been implemented yet for our oldest editions.
Abbreviations in the source

Family position:

  • hf = Head of family
  • hm = Housewife
  • hp = (Him/herself) head of household
  • hu = Wife
  • s = Son
  • d = Daughter
  • tj = Servant
  • fl = Lodger, belonging to the family
  • el = Lone lodger
  • b = Visitor
Civil status:
  • ug = unmarried
  • g = married
  • e = widow / widower
  • s = separated
  • f = divorced
Year and date of birth:
  • Birth years in the 1900 census are given with four numbers, for example 1888
  • For individuals under two years old, the whole date of birth may be registered. The date of birth is then given by the formula 'dd.mm.yyyy', for example 24.12.1898.
  • If the day of birth is missing from a date, the day is given as '0' or '00', for example 00.12.1898.
Place of birth:
  • The place of birth usually gives the name of the municipality where the individual was born. In the column for place of birth the following abbreviations for the Norwegian provinces may have been added:

  • Sm = Smaalenene
  • Ak = Akershus
  • Hed = Hedemarken
  • Krs = Kristians
  • Bu = Buskerud
  • JL = Jarlsberg og Larvik
  • Brb = Bratsberg
  • Ned = Nedenes
  • LM = Lister og Mandal
  • Sta = Stavanger
  • SB = Søndre Bergenhus
  • NB = Nordre Bergenhus
  • Rom = Romsdal
  • ST = Søndre Trondhjem
  • NT = Nordre Trondhjem
  • Nor = Nordland
  • Tr = Tromsø
  • Fin = Finmarken
Uncertain information in the source:
  • Sometimes a single piece of information in a column in the source can be hard to interpret. This may be due to the source being damaged, that the ink has faded, that the photocopy of the source is poor, or that the data entrist did not recognize the word written.

  • Main rule: If you cannot interpret one or more letters (or a whole word) in the source, this is indicated by two question marks ('??').
Contradictory or faulty information in the source:
  • Sometimes, different pieces of information in the source may be logically irreconcilable. In other instances a piece of information may be erroneous.

  • Main rule: When two or more pieces of information in the source are logically irreconcilable, the piece of information most probably wrong is indicated by two exclamation marks ('!!') behind the questionable information. Probably erroneous information is indicated in the same way.
Information lacking in the source:
  • Often, columns in the census will be empty. This may be due to that the census-taker could not obtain the information in question, that the information was left out when filling out the form, or that the question did not apply to a certain individual, domicile etc.

    For practical reasons, some census-takers did not fill in information that should have been repeated for several consecutive individuals in the list (for example civil status or last name). The empty column must then be interpreted as equal to ditto (cf point 4 below).

  • Main rule: If information is missing from a column in the source, the corresponding field is to be kept empty under registration.


    • Some columns in the source are almost always filled in. When this in exceptional cases has not been done, it is important to indicate that this information really is lacking in the source, and has not been forgotten during data entry. This is done by placing the missing information symbol !! in the corresponding field. If only '!!' was entered in the field, it means that the information is lacking from the source.
    • If the symbol !! has been registered after another value in a field, for example '1904!!', this means that the given value probably/clearly is erroneous.

Pieces of information crossed out in the source:

  • Information in a column in the source may have been crossed out. Sometimes a new value is put into the same column, at other times no new information has been added.

    Ideally, the census-taker's own deletions and corrections in the source are to be entered, while later corrections and deletions made by Statistics Norway, The National Archive or eager genealogists e g defending the spelling of their family name, are to be ignored.

    However, it may be hard to decide when and by whom deletions and corrections were made. This is especially true concerning registration from microfilm or photocopies, where the original's details in blue ink often is unclear. In these situations the registrar has to use common sense.

  • Main rule: Words and sentences crossed out in the original source are marked by percentage-signs before and after. Any new (corrected) value is registered in front of the crossed-out value in the same field.

Exceptions and examples
  • Examples: The value '%Kristiania%' shows that the place of birth has been crossed out, and no new information has been added, while the value 'Erik %Henrik%' indicates that the first name Henrik has been crossed out and changed to Erik.
  • If a word has been crossed out at the beginning of the column and is followed by a word that has not been deleted, the deleted word is indicated by %-signs and is moved behind the word that has not been crossed out. Example: "El Hf" will be registered as 'Hf %El%', not as '%El% Hf'.
  • If a word has been crossed out in the middle of a sentence, it is not to be moved. It should only be indicated by %-signs in front and behind, for example 'Drengen har %ikke% blitt konfirmert'. = 'The hodge has %not% been confirmed'. If the whole sentence is crossed out, it should end the field.
  • If one or more letters that are part of a (short) value have been crossed out, the deleted and the corrected are both fully registered, for example, 'Johans. %Johanness.%' where the letters "nes" have been crossed out.
  • If the deleted value is completely unreadable, the value is registered as '%??%'.
  • If information has been deleted in one column, but appears unchanged in another column (that is, first wrongly placed and then moved by the census-taker), the information is not recorded at all from the column where it was deleted.

    The same goes for instances when information is incorrectly placed in the source. Then the information is registered in the field where it logically belongs, even if a value was placed in the wrong column in the source (i.e. place of birth should be moved from the job column).