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Getting Started Guide

You can enter the exciting world of genealogy by following some basic guidelines. With the help of NAGC & NL, you can easily become a first-rate genealogy detective. Before you begin, consider purchasing our publication, A Research Guide for Norwegian Genealogy. This informative book provides excellent hints on how to overcome some of the quirks of Norwegian-American genealogy.

Start with yourself

The first step is to start with what you know about yourself. Begin working backwards one generation at a time. Write down what you know and are able to verify for yourself: birth date and place, marriage date and place. Do the same for your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. Add the death date and place of death, if applicable.

How to chart family histories

Listed here are two options for helping you organize the information you have. Once you are familiar with these forms, you can find computer software programs on the Internet that will help you continue. You will then be able to share with others the information you are gathering.

Pedigree Charts

It will be helpful to complete an ancestral chart for your direct line of ancestors. This chart usually looks like a tree, but other options are available. You will be #1 on this chart, your father #2, mother #3, father’s father #4, father’s mother #5, mother’s father #6, mother’s mother #7. The men always have even numbers, the women odd numbers.

› View Pedigree Chart PDF

Family Group Sheet

Use a family group sheet to record vital information (birth, marriage, death) about all members of a family. Work backwards from there, filling out family group sheets for the husband’s and wife’s parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. This will help you record an entire family’s information as a unit.

Remember to record maiden names for all married women. Record dates by writing out the name of the month (April 12, 1923) or use the European form of day, month, year (12 April 1923). Do not write the number of the month (4/12/1923). It is recommended to write out all four digits for a year, not just the last two digits. This will eliminate problems later when reading your history. Record place names starting from the smallest location to the largest: city, township, county, state, and country for U.S. locations. For the benefit of your readers not living in the U.S., write out the name of the state rather than using the abbreviation. Always add “United States.”

› View Family Group Sheet PDF

Available Resources

Through our collections both at Naeseth Library and on-line, we are striving to compile the most comprehensive source for information about the history of Norwegian immigration and genealogical resources. The strengths of the collections can be defined by two categories:

FOUND AT THE NAESETH LIBRARY IN MADISON, WISCONSIN

  • Emigration Lists

  • Norwegian Bygdebøker (farm histories)

  • Rowberg Files (started in 1914, the files include obituaries, wedding and birth announcements, wedding anniversaries, feature stories, promotions, honors, visits to Norway and other events)

  • Lasson Collection (transcripts of Lasson’s research of people using permanent last names in Norway).

  • Norwegian topographical maps detailing farms and churches encompassing the entire country of Norway

  • Printed Norwegian and Norwegian-American family histories

FOR NON-DATABASE SUBSCRIBERS, THE FOLLOWING ARE AVAILABLE AT THE NAESETH LIBRARY. IF YOU ARE A DATABASE SUBSCRIBER, THEY ARE AVAILABLE ON-LINE.

  • Transcripts include Norwegians in the following U.S. Census records:
    1850: California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin
    1860: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Dakota Territory, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin
    1870: Wisconsin (Counties A-D)
    1880: Dakota Territory, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin

  • Transcripts of Norwegian-American cemeteries, indexed by first and last name

  • Handwritten transcripts and microfilm of Norwegians on ship passenger lists:
    New York: 1830-1856, 1872, 1876, 1880, 1884, 1886, 1892
    Philadelphia: 1878-1879
    Quebec: 1865-1873

  • Handwritten and typed transcripts of Norwegian-American church records 1840-1900

  • Microfilms of microfilms of the ALC (American Lutheran Church) collection

To search our Naeseth Library catalogue, click here.

The online database of our holdings includes a portion of the resources in the Naeseth Library. For information on additional holdings, especially microfilms, out-of-print volumes, and unique documentary materials, please be sure to inquire.

Become a Member

By becoming a member, you not only gain benefits for your family history research, you also support a worthy cause.

Your annual membership helps you, your family, and a wide community discover their roots and preserve a treasured heritage.

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Support NAGC & NL

NAGC & NL relies upon donations of all types from its members and friends throughout the world.

All gifts, whether large or small, are essential to the work of the Center, an important non-profit organization of international scope that is dedicated to preserving Norwegian-American history and heritage.

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Testimonials

“Dear Jerry, My visit with you in June was a rewarding experience. Your instruction on how to use the online Digital Archives of Norway has been extremely useful in my family research. Upon my return home, I immediately went online and put to use the methods that you taught me at the Library-and I'm now managing to locate a great deal of information on the Digital Archives on my own. I have also found A Research Guide for Norwegian Genealogy to be a great resource.  Please also extend my thanks to Solveig, who was able to translate for me some family information that I brought along on my visit.  I hope to return to the Library again in the near future for additional assistance in tracking down family records. I will also be periodically checking the website events calendar, as I would like to attend your next Beginning Genealogy Class.”

- Ron (Minnesota)

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