Norwegian Roots?

Welcome to The Digital Archives of Norway:

The Digital Archives of Norway
The Digital Archives are the result of co-operation between the Department of History at the University of Bergen, and the Regional State Archives of Bergen, a part of the National Archives of Norway. Since December 1995 our databases have been available for search through the internet, and at present more than 1400 databases with almost 8 million records are at hand through the Digital Archives.

Archives themselves are mediators of information, and the internet provides us with new ways of letting you access our records. The Digital Archives include the Norwegian National censuses of 1801, 1865 and 1900, as well as the Norwegian emigrant databases, and lots of other records.

July 4, 2000 we will present the national Norwegian emigration database on the internet. The databases contain the names and data of more than 700 000 emigrants. You will also find more than 330 000 Norwegians registered in the US census of 1880. The use of these databases are free of charge.

Norwegian emigration
On October 9, 1825 "Restauration", a tiny sloop with 53 Norwegians onboard, sailed into New York harbour. The vessel had been at sea for fourteen weeks on a journey from Stavanger, Norway to England and Madeira before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. It had been a hazardous trip, and the sloop was immediately confiscated by the New York authorities as it had violated regulations - being heavily overcrowded. But the "Restauration" had set an example, and within a century almost 800,000 Norwegians followed in its wake. Of all European countries only Ireland saw a higher percentage of its people emigrate.

New York was the main port of entrance for Norwegians to America in the years up to 1853. During these early years most Norwegians came over on small sailing vessels from Norway, but some set sail from Gothenburg in Sweden or Hamburg in Germany. And there were even a few who made the cross-Atlantic trip from Le Havre in France - the greater number of these disembarking in New Orleans, on their way to settlements in Texas.

Following the repeal of the British Navigation Laws in 1850, Canadian ports were thrown wide open to vessels of all nations. Within a few years, almost all Norwegian emigrant vessels chose Quebec as their harbour for disembarkation, and thus it remained for almost 20 years. As the majority of Norwegian emigrants in the 1850s and 1860s were on their way to Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, or Minnesota, Quebec was a convenient harbour. The Quebec passenger lists, kept at the National Archives in Ottawa, only date back to 1865.

In the 1850s and 1860s, thirty to fifty small Norwegian sailing vessels (brigs, schooners, or barks) would set out annually each April or May from the coast of Norway. Each carried between one-hundred and four-hundred passengers, and almost all were overloaded. The journey was hard - it took four to twelve weeks to cross the North Atlantic, and it was dangerous. In 1862 four percent of the emigrants on Norwegians vessels died at sea. And in 1863 Norwegian authorities passed regulations to try to prevent overloading, and to ensure that the emigrants carried no diseases.

Larger European cities such as Liverpool and Glasgow had established steamer lines to take emigrants to America, and in 1866 several steamer companies started agencies in Norway, advocating that steamers were superior to sailing vessels. The steamers could cross the Atlantic in 12 to 14 days; the sailing vessels sometimes used as many weeks.

In 1867, a law regulating the agencies and the emigrant trade was passed in Norway - one of the results being that the Norwegian police had to check all emigrants and register their names, place of birth, and which line they emigrated with. These emigrant rolls are now one of the best sources for the study of Norwegian emigration.

The year 1875 was a turning point in Norwegian emigration history: All Norwegian emigrants travelled by steamers, and they all had to use foreign ships. Most of them had to travel from Norway to other European countries, in order to board. Many Norwegians travelled to Hull or North Shields (Newcastle) in England, crossed over to Liverpool by train, then crossed the Atlantic from Liverpool to New York with the Cunard Line. Two other lines - Donaldsen and Angus - made their departures from Glasgow in Scotland, while the White Star Line made many departures from Southampton.

The only line to make regular use of Norwegian harbours (Kristiania/Oslo and Kristiansand) was Thingvalla, founded by the Danes in 1880. Almost all the steamers took their passengers to New York, where they disembarked at Ellis Island.

A Norwegian emigrant line came into reality in 1910, and from 1913 Den norske Amerikalinje (Norwegian American Line) sailed from Kristiania/Oslo and Bergen, occasionally making trips from Stavanger, Kristiansand or Trondheim. Soon, the majority of Norwegian emigrants preferred this Norwegian Line, and remained so until the end of the emigration era.

How to trace your Norwegian roots
You may find further information on Norwegian records, institutions and how to do the research on relatives in the pamphlet "How to trace your ancestors in Norway", available on the internet at You may also find it usefull if you want to know how to track down relatives who are still living in Norway.

Visit the Norwegian Emigration and Genealogy center in Stavanger, Norway !
Are you looking for your Norwegian Roots? Do you have a name of a grandfather who emigrated but not much more? Maybe you want to find living relatives in Norway that you might visit someday? The Norwegian Emigration and Genealogy Center in Stavanger, Norway can help you with all this and more! Established in 1986, we have helped thousands and thousands of people of Norwegian ancestry to find their roots. If you find your family name in the National Emigrant Database in the Digital Archive, we can help you continue the search. There is a lot of information out there, and the Norwegian Emigration and Genealogy Center can make the process of looking for your roots a lot easier.

Our nationwide sources of parish registers, national censuses and local farm history books, enable us to tell the story of your ancestry and possibly locate any living relatives. In some cases we can take your family history back to the 1600s, and we might also supply you with pictures of farms and stories of the place they once left behind. For this service, you only have to pay $ 50.00, which includes 3 hours of genealogy work. For more extensive research, we charge a fee of $ 30.00 per hour. Does this sound interesting? Want to find out more?

Emigrants from Norway 1821-1930

1821-1830                 54
1831-1840             1200
1841-1850           17000
1851-1860           36070
1861-1870           97953
1871-1880           85386
1881-1890         186688
1891-1900           94854
1901-1910         190858
1911-1920           61512
1921-1930           86612

The Digital Archives
Dokkeveien 2b, N-5007 Bergen, Norway

Department of History
University of Bergen
Sydnesplassen 7, N-5007 Bergen, Norway

National Archives of Norway
Folke Bernadottes vei 21
Postboks 4013 Ullevål stadion
N-0806 Oslo, Norway

Regional State Archives of Bergen
Aarstadveien 22
N-5009 Bergen, Norway


The Norwegian Emigration Center,
Strandkaien 31, N-4005 Stavanger, Norway.

Published by : Statsarkivet i Bergen (YN)
Layout: Tom Myrvold
April 2000 (updt. March 2002 (ASC))