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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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
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.
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.
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.
“Dear Carol & Solveig, Thanks for all your help when I came to the Center: Solveig, for translating and the things we discussed; Carol, for helping me learn how to figure out the bygdeboker. This has been such an exciting endeavor for me, as I move from knowing only my great-grandmother's last name (and the wrong county in Norway) in 2014-to now having my family (and both sides of her family) all the way back to the 1600's & where they lived. So much fun. I will be back to work further, so I thank you again.”
- Karol (Illinois)