Source Information Norway, Church Records, 1812-1938 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2020.
Original data: Kirkebøker 1812-1938, Arkivverket, Norge.

About Norway, Church Records, 1812-1938

Historical Context

The official Church of Norway is Evangelical Lutheran and Lutheran church records are a key source for anyone researching Norwegian ancestry. These records are made up of church books from parishes across Norway.

From 1720, parish registers became more detailed and widespread. In 1812, the first templated registers were used and Ministers were much more consistent in what was filled in for each event type


Until about 1850 to 1870, most ordinary people used patronymics instead of surnames. Patronymics are constructed from the given name of a person’s father, followed by “sen” (= son) or “datter” (= daughter). So, for example, Jens Nielsen’s daughter Maren’s full name would be “Maren Jensdatter”, and his son Søren would be “Søren Jensen”. Often a farm name was added as an additional surname and can provide a clue as to where someone may have lived.

By the 1880s, families started to settle on a single hereditary surname, however, some families continued to use the patronymic system until 1923 when a law was passed requiring the adoption of a permanent family name.


Children were generally christened within a few days of birth and the records often include information such as status of legitimacy and father's occupation.


Marriage records often included the status of the bride and groom, in other words, whether they had been widowed or were single. Marriages usually took place in the parish of the bride's family.


Burial usually took place shortly after death. Sometimes, they listed the deceased's birth date and parents as well.

The Parish Register will provide information regarding anyone who was born/baptized, married or died/buried in that particular parish.

You may be able to find the following information (where available):

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Parish
  • Name of parents or spouse
  • Residence
  • Date of Birth
  • Baptism Date
  • Date of Marriage
  • Date of Death
  • Date of Burial