The purpose of the Norwegian Historical Data Centre is to ease access to historical sources, like censuses and parish registers, through their computerized processing. The inititive was taken by historians who wanted to study 18th and 19th century society with the aid of microhistorical methods. Based on the model of Swedish Demographic Data Base at the University of Umeå, the NHDC has a mandate to prepare machine-readable editions of manuscript censuses and parish registers for use by university researchers and private genealogists. Experience has shown that electronic processing of historical data would enable historians to make a more thorough and precise study of society, than is possible by manual methods.
The Norwegian Historical Data Centre was established in 1981 and is today a permanent body under The Department of History and Religious Studies at the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education at The Arctic University of Norway.
NHDC issues typeset versions of the originals of the 1865, 1875 and 1900 censuses as well as the parish registers. These are supplied with alphabetical indexes. The aim is a national registry of the population of the 18th and 19th centuries, primarily for research purposes, but also for the benefit of schools, genealogists, local historians, etc. Access to the sources is eased by the use of NHDC's typeset material. The alphabetical indexes are of great aid to both the professional and amateur researcher, for a person can be traced through them in a matter of seconds. Also, wear and tear on the original sources i minimized. As can be expected, the labour involved in registering all these sources is extensive and time-consuming. Thus far we have only converted the sources of a few parts of the country to binary form.
NHDC has based its activity on the transcription of the census returns of 1865, 1875, 1891 and 1900. For the census of 1891 there are only transcriptions available for a couple of towns. These censuses are so-called nominative censuses containing proper names and other personally related data, i.e. data on each individual. The individual is the basic element of these census returns. This provides us with a unique opportunity to glean information on the individuals or groups of categorized individuals.
Below we can see what kind of information each column provides. In city census returns, there are a few additional columns which need not consern us here. The guiding prinsiple in our work is to be true to the source material. All informations is written down exactly as it appears. The exception to this rule is that a few of the data items are input in a standardized form, but this in no way interferes with the information value of the material.
The table below provides an overview in the three censuses (1865, 1875 and 1900).
INFORMATION IN THE CENSUSES 1865 1875 1900 Census division: - X X School district, parish: X - - List of person's number - X X Page of census: X - - Farm name: X X X Main farm number: - - X Farm number: - - X Number in land register: X - - Inhabited dwellings: X - X Number of household: X X X Individual number in houshold: - X X Christian name: X X X Surname: X X X Sex: X X X Resident: - X X Home of temporary residents: - X X Residence of the temporarily absent: - X X Position in the family: X X X Marital status: X X X Occupation: X X X Date/year of birth/age: X X X Place of birth: X X X Citizenship: - X X Religious affinity: X X X Disease/mental illness: X X X When contracted: X X - Nationality/ethnicity: (X) X X Language: (X) - X Information about livestock: X X (X) Agricultural information: X X (X) ___________________________________________________________ KEY: X Information usually appears in all censuses. (X) Information appers in a few censuses only. - Information is missing.
In 1812, it was ordained that there should be printed forms for parish registers, containing explanations. This model was subsequently modified a couple of times and as this was reflected in the material, we were forced to take account of it in the production of a common format for parish registers. Generally, information is more plentiful towards the end of the 19th century than at the beginning.
The table below shows what kind of information can be found in the parish registers:
CONFIRMATION REGISTERS BAPTISM REGISTERS MARRIAGE REGISTERS BURIAL REGISTERS ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1 Municipality number Municipality number Municipality number Municipality number 2 Parish registers no./name Parish reg. no./name Parish reg. no./name Parish reg. no/name 3 Year of transcription Year of transcription Year of transcript. Year of transcription 4 List Sex Person number Sex 5 Person number in list Person number in list Name of church Person no. 6 Type Name of church Date of seremony Name of church 7 Sex Date of seremony Nuptials/betrothal Type of death 8 Christian name Date of birth Bridegroom's mar.no. Date of burial seremony 9 Surname Christian name Bride's marriage no. Date of death 10 Occupation In/out of wedlock His occupation Date of interment 11 Provider's occupation Father's occupation His christian name Occupation 12 Provider's christian name Father's chr. name His surname Christian name 13 Provider's surname Father's surname His place of birth Surname 14 Provider's address Father's address His address Address 15 Mother's occupation Father's age His age Age/year of birth 16 Mother's christian name Mother's occupation His confirmation Place of birth 17 Mother's surname Mother's chr. name His first communion Confirmation 18 Mother's adress Mother's surname Her occupation Provider's occupation 19 Confirmee's age Mother's address Her christian name Provider's christian name 20 Confirmee's place of birth Mother's age Her surname Provider's surname 21 Confirmee's address 1st sponsor Her place of birth Provider's adress 22 Ability to learn (1) 2nd sponsor Her adress Cause of death 23 Ability to learn (2) 3rd sponsor Her age Doctor summoned 24 Ability to learn (3) 4th sponsor Her confirmation Court notified 25 Vaccination 5th sponsor Her first communion Comment (1) 26 Comments 6th sponsor His father/name etc Comment (2) 27 Baptized at home Her father/name etc Comment (3) 28 Born out of wedlock 1st best man Comment (4) 29 Introductory number 2nd best man Mother's occupation 30 Introductory (text) Banns published Mother's christian name 31 Comment (1) Banns demanded by Mother's surname 32 Comment (2) Vaccination Mother's address 33 Previous marriages Still birth reported by 34 Comment (1) 35 Comment (2) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Usually, each type of source for a municipality (kommune) or parish (prestegjeld) is treated on a one-by-one basis, but it is possible to assemble two or more kommuner/prestegjeld into a more comprehensive geographical unit before sorting on whatever key is desired.
The next step is to standardize variables with a view to statistical analysis. A program replaces the textual variables with numeric ones, as statistical programs work better with the latter.
Proper names and names of farms are not coded or standardized. Neither are agricultural data, but these data may be coded seperately for the 1865 and 1875 censuses (due to their internal structure, and the different structure of the 1900 census).
The censuses are registered according to the borders between municipalities which existed in the year when the census was taken. A municipality may have had its borders changed over the years between 1865 and 1900. The censuses therefore reflect the size of the municipality at the date in question.
The unit of registration for parish registers is of course the parish. Parish registers contain information on a year-by-year basis about baptisms, confirmation, marriages and burials.