Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Bygdebok

Bygdebøker are local history books that contain a gold mine of genealogy information. The word bygdebok is derived from two Norwegian words: bygd - a rural community, and bok - a book (the plural is bygdebøker).

Bygdebøker have been published for several hundred rural communities in Norway. In order to find your family in a bygdebok, you will need to know the area where the farm is located (even better the actual farm name). This is often found in the church records (as a person's location or farm is listed in the register). Bygdebøker are prepared using a variety of sources (church records, census records, probate records, tax rolls, etc.).

Remember that Bygdebøker are a secondary source and always verify the information you obtain with the primary source. Bygdebøker are often several volume sets and include a detailed history of the area, photographs, individual farm information, and the genealogy of the people living of the farm.

I include the farm name in the suffix area
an easy way to follow my individuals

both the farm name and the information
from the bygdebok is included in my notes

Peder and Mail's family; Peder's family; Mali's family
each is at a separate farm and additional family information is included

If you have Norwegian ancestors, you will want to run - not walk - to the nearest library that maintains this terrific resource. I first found this resource while on a research trip to the Family History Library and the information contained in the Bygdebøker (although not 100% accurate) got me connected to much of my Norwegian family. The good news is that Peder and Mali together with both their children (Mattie and Elisaeus) emigrated to America. Contrary to the information in the bygdebok, Elisaeus did not die in 1865. Rather that is the date the family left for America.

To learn more about Bygdebøker - how to find them and use them with your Norwegian research - check out these links:

FamilySearch Explains Farm Books
Johan I. Borgos on What is that?
Bygdeboker held at the University of Minnesota
The Bygdeboker Collection at the Chester Fritz Libray (UND)
Online Lookups Using Norwegian Records


  1. Scanned images of all the original parish registers are available FREE at
    This website is also scanning all the census (which are already transcribed), probates, tax records and many other records. Did I mention it is all FREE? The search engine can be tricky to learn, but once conquored, the website is a gold mine of original documents.

    1. Thanks Linda - I did much of this research when I was at the Family History Library but I just went back to the Archive Digital site you shared the link for and I do have this one bookmarked. Thanks for reading and sharing.


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