Many of our members are interested in genealogy and would like to know more about their roots.
Moving away from your home country often makes you more patriotic and nostalgic about where you come from. Many descendants of Norwegian emigrants are interested in knowing more about their ancestors. Whatever made you interested, researching your roots might lead you to finding relatives that you can connect with.
It can be confusing at first, and perhaps difficult to know where to start. We have gathered some tips from genealogy sites and experts to make it easier for you:
Step One: Get Talking
The first tip for genealogy research is to get talking with your older relatives. Speak to all available sources, whether it is parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. Ask both about their own history and about the family. Genealogy-related questions are also good conversation ice-breakers. If you’re struggling a bit to find something to talk about with relatives you do not know well at family gatherings, you can use this subject to get the chat going and maybe also learn something in the process.
When it comes to what kind of questions you should ask and topics you should cover, DIS Norge, the biggest community for genealogy research in the country, has a few suggestions.
Food. This is the easiest subject for any conversation around the world, since we all like to talk about it. Food is such an essential part of life. And when you learn more about how people eat, you automatically learn about their culture and way of life.
Objective questions. Talk about the weather, or about the house they were living in when they grew up, how they ended up in that house, if they know who lived there before and who were their neighbors. Interesting details might resurface.
Work and education. This is an easy subject to talk about, and reveals a lot about the culture, the times and their positions in society.
Big questions. If it feels right, it can be rewarding to bring up life and its big questions. What are you most proud of in your life? What do you want to be remembered for?
One reliable place to find information about your Norwegian ancestors is the national archives in Norway, Riksarkivet. If you visit Norway personally, you can study the documents in the archives, and the staff will help and advise you. As you do the research yourself, you need to be able to read Norwegian, and in most cases, decipher the old “Gothic” (German) style of lettering which was used in Norway until late in the 19th century. Alternatively, you can bring a translator.
The Norwegian Emigrant Museum
Now called The Museum of Migration, The Norwegian Emigrant Museum was founded on June 22, 1955. The museum’s mission is to increase knowledge of human movement, migration and diaspora, as exemplified by Norwegian overseas emigration, through collections, conservation, research, and exhibitions. Norwegians Worldwide holds a part of the Museum’s board, and in 2015 our board member Kari Amdam was appointed the spot. The museum lies in Ottestad, outside Oslo.
History Hub: An interest in genealogy and family research is often sparked by curiosity, and a need to know more about your forefathers, and by that also yourself. Riksarkivet in Oslo have qualified staff that can help you search in their archives. Photo: Helen F. Nicholson, Riksarkivet