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Instructions for using the 1865 census database

by John Føllesdal

    The University of Bergen has made the 1865 Norwegian census available on the Internet at the following url:  Most of the work that went into preparing this database was done at Teleslekt and at the Registreringssentral for historiske data (RHD) at the University of Tromsø.  At the present time this database is not complete: cities are not included, and several kommuner (rural municipalities) have not yet been entered.  (Most of the kommuner for which the records have not yet been processed are located in eastern Norway).  The University of Bergen estimates that the registration process will be completed by the end of 1999.
    In order to use this database you will beed to know the fylke (county) and the kommune (rural municipality) that your ancestor lived in in 1865.  On the home page of the database you will see a frameset, and in the left frameset you can click on the fylke that you are interested in researching.  If we click on Sogn og Fjordane, for example, we see a list of each kommune in this fylke.  In front of each kommune is a number.  This refers to the official number of the kommune.  (Each kommune in Norway has been assigned an official number).
    Let's scroll down the page and click on "1443 Eid" where my paternal ancestors came from.  This brings us to the search interface for the database.  Unfortunately it is in Norwegian:

Here is what it says:

Digitalarkivet: 1865-telling for 1443 Eid
    The Digital Archive: the 1865 census for Eid, kommune number 1443

    Button to go to the "Home page" of the 1865 census, i.e., back to the opening page (frameset)

    Help button.  Unfortunately it brings you to a help page in Norwegian :-(

Sidan 23.1.1998 er det blitt henta ut XXXXXXXXXX sider, av dei XXXX i dag
    Since January 23, 1998 visitors have made XXXXXXXXXX searches in this database, and of these XXXX searches were made today

Alle har nytte av å lesa det som gøymer seg bak HJELP-knappen og å lesa NYTT.
    Everyone can benefit from clicking on the Help button and also to read the latest news.  (This, of course, assumes that you can read Norwegian).

    This button is for statistical analysis.  You can ignore it.

    This button means "Next".  It is used to scroll forward when your search brings up more than one page of results.

Post 1-10 av 2918 totalt i databasen
    Search results 1 through 10 of a total of 2918 in the database that fits the search criteria for Eid kommune.  Note: When you click on a kommune, the database will automatically display the first 10 search results for that kommune, starting with farm number 1.

Vel felt
    Select search criteria.  Here you can choose to search on one of the following terms:
 Distriktnr.  District number
 Side  Page
 Skoledistrikt  School district
 Sogn  Subparish
 Prestegjeld  Parish
 Marknad (sogn)  Remarks relating to subparish
 Gardsnavn  Name of farm
 Matrikkel  Real estate record number
 Merknad (gard)  Remarks about farm
 Overskrift  Heading
 Personnr.  Person number
 Husholdning  Household number
 Fornavn  First name
 Etternavn  Surname (Patronymic name)
 Familiestatus  Person's status (husband, wife, etc.)
 Yrke  Occupation
 Sivilstand  Marital status
 Alder  Age
 Kjønn  Sex
 Fødested  Place of birth
 Trosbekjennelse  Religious affiliation
 Sykdom  Illness
 Merknad, Person  Remarks regarding the person
 Hester  Horses
 Stort kveg  Cattle
 Får  Sheep
 Geit  Goats
 Svin  Pigs
 Reinsdyr  Reindeer
 Kveite  Wheat
 Rug  Rye
 Bygg   Barley
 Blandkorn  Mixture of grains (usually oats and barley)
 Havre  Oats
 Erter  Peas
 Poteter  Potatoes
 Merknad, jordbruk  Remarks relating to agriculture

    The 1865 census included information about the harvest in 1865 and the livestock at each farm.  The database allows a researcher to sort the farms by the number of horses, the size of the harvest, etc.   We will use it for genealogy purposes, but when we find our ancestors it is always important to note the size of the harvest and the number of farm animals since this information gives us an idea of how they lived.

    Let's do a search for the farm name Føllesdal.  In the Vel Felt (Select field) we select Gardsnavn, and in the Leit ettar (Search for) field we type in Føllesdal.  (You can copy and paste the unique Norwegian letters you need from the text on the search page).  Then we click on the Hent Postane (Search) button.

    The search brings up two matches, since there were two bruk at the Føllesdal farm in 1865.  We can then click on the hyperlink (the underlined number) to see the 1865 census record for each bruk.  When we do this we find my great great great grandparents, Daniel Olsen and Johanne Knudsdatter, and their two children (their three other children died prior to 1865):

Many years later, when he was an old man, Daniel had his photograph taken :-)   The search results tells us that he was a "Gaardbruger og Selveier", i.e., a farmer who owned his own farm.  He was 59 years old, and the database tells us that he owned 1 horse, 9 cows, 23 sheep, 1 pig, etc.  (The above gif does not show the entire search screen).  If you take a look at my article "How to use a Norwegian bygdebok in your genealogy research" you will see that I use Daniel Olsen and his family to explain how to use a bygdebok.

   A few of the Norwegian words you need to know in order to use the 1865 census are translated above.  You can find more in my Norwegian-English dictionary .  This dictionary is not a full dictionary, and I would recommend that you purchase Einar Haugen's "Norwegian-English Dictionary". You can order this book either through your local bookstore or through the Ancestors from Norway bookstore (operated in association with

This page was created on August 29, 1998
Revised September 29, 1998 (to add gif images)
John Føllesdal