Restricted scans of church books
This article details which principles the National Archives must follow in regards to restricting access to church books, as well as which evaluations form the basis of such decisions.
In the article covering restricted scans in the Digital Archives, we explain the types of information the national archives are not permitted to publish on the open internet. To mitigate the risk of publishing such information, the national archives employ the following principles in regards to restricting various list types in the scanned church book content.
Births and Baptisms and Children born of dissenters are freely available up to, and including 1929. From 1935, so called "full adoptions" were introduced, requiring the complete severance of contact with the biological parents. For these types of adoption cases, a 100-year duty of confidentiality exists. In some births and baptism lists, the priest may note information pertaining to the adopted child, including the identify of its biological parents. This information also carries of 100-year duty of confidentiality. In addition, some priests may have entered additional information pertaining to children adopted up to the age of 5. This information would be added retroactively to the birth and baptisms lists as far back as 1930, which means these lists must remain restricted until 2030.
Information regarding adoptions from 1935 or later, has also been found to occur in births and baptisms lists prior to 1930. In such cases, the national archives will restrict these individual pages of the births and baptisms lists prior to 1930.
The national archives must restrict more pages than those with concrete adoption information. A child may have been adopted after a baptism, without the priest noting this in the church book, such that said child is recorded alongside its biological parents. It is impossible for us to discover this, but for individuals with knowledge of the child or its parents, it would be possible to identify when an adoption has taken place. The principle of restricting these lists from 1930 is therefore strictly enforced.
Confirmations are freely available up to, and including 1934. As with births and baptisms, information pertaining to full adoptions has been found to occur, and are also covered by a 100-year duty of confidentiality. Thus lists of confirmations in 1935 be available earliest in 2036.
**Marriages, Engagements and Banns/Proclamations ** are usually unrestricted. However, as more and more church books from the latter half of the 20th century have been scanned, it has become clear that in some cases, the priest has entered information which cannot be made freely available; for example norwegian social security numbers. The national archives do not have the capacity to review every scanned church book, thus in church books published from the autumn of 2016, we have employed a 60-year restriction on Marriages, Engagements and Banns/Proclamations lists. We are also considering introducing a 60-year restriction on such lists for church books published prior to autumn 2016.
Deaths and burials, Deceased dissenters, Cremated and Still-borns are restricted for 80 years. The reason for this is due to the nature of the death, which in a number of cases can be of a sensitive nature. This applies especially to information about inheritable illnesses that could indirectly infer health information about the descendents of the deceased. In addition, the national archives must take into consideration information about suicides, stillbirths and other causes of death; the publication of which can be damaging to bereaved family members.
At the end of the 1930s, it ceased to be the priest's duty to record a cause of death, but many priests continued with this practice. As a result of this, it is possible for us to make later lists available, but it would require us to review all the church books to determine if cause of death has been recorded or not.
Restricted pictures automatically released at new year
All lists pertaining to Dissenters, if not already mentioned, as well as Registered in the state church, De-registered from the state church, or Civil marriages are restricted for 60 years. Information pertaining to religious beliefs is covered by the Norwegian personal data act, and thus defined as sensitive personal information which may not be published on the open internet.
Additional attachments can contain information pertaining to adoption cases, and are thus treated in the same fashion as birth and baptism lists; i.e that such attachments are freely available up to, and including 1929. Such attachments from after 1930 can be opened manually, however this requires that the national archives first check the content to ensure that the contained information can be made freely available. Such checks are however, not prioritized.
Other church book lists remain unrestricted.
The National Archives will periodically review their principles for restricting scanned church book content.