If you’ve got Norwegian ancestry, you’ve probably researched bygdebøker—or wished you could. These community histories include millions of genealogical records, but unfortunately, they’re not easy to search: They’re handwritten in Norwegian and their contents aren’t indexed.
The term bygdebøker (pronounced “beeg-duh-booh-ker”) translates as “community books.” These local histories document Norwegian farms back to the 1600s or before. Entire households may be listed, with dates for births, marriages and deaths.
Grouped families aren’t the only exciting aspect of this effort known as the “Norway Project,” according to Roger Magneson, a Family Reconstitution project manager.
Preliminary data from the Norway Project show another interesting result. “In one clerical district, there were 957 family trees, but one tree accounted for 80 percent of the population. That means there was essentially one family in that district,” Magneson says. If these data remain consistent across the country, “Norway is probably less than 400 unique families.”