Submitted by Betty Rockswold
In the fall of 1546, Norway lost its status as an independent kingdom and at the same
time was forced to accept the Lutheran faith. Within a year Norway's last Archbishop, Olav
Engelbrektsson, had been exiled, the saints, relics and monasteries had disappeared along
with most of the church records. Christian III, King of Denmark, was then the King of
Norway and the head of the church. The beloved parish priests were replaced by Danes who
for the most part were unqualified to be ministers. It took decades before there were
enough trained Lutheran clergymen to fill the pulpits of Norway. It was not until over a
century later that parish records were kept.
Most of the parishes did not begin to keep records until a law requiring them was passed in 1688. A Royal decree of December 1, 1812 said a duplicate copy of the church records should be kept by the parish clerk. The clergyman and clerk's books were to be compared and checked once a year. Regular inspections of the books were to be made by the bishops and deans. The 1812 decree also provided for a standardized printed form that was put into use in the winter of 1814-1815. Another Royal decree of December 2, 1820 required that a flyleaf be added to the record book with instructions on how to record entries. About 1830, a new and improved form came into being and a decree of July 13, 1877 established the form that is still in use today.
Early books, before the law of 1688 and up to 1735 contained only baptisms, marriages and burials. From 1736 to 1814 there are baptisms, introductions, confirmations, intentions to marry (to about 1799), marriages and burials. The printed forms of 1814 to 1876 provided for entries of baptisms with birth date, confirmations, deaths and burials, marriages, arrivals and removals and vaccinations.
Before 1814 a newborn child had to be baptized within the first eight days after birth. If there was any likelihood that the child would not live, the child was baptized at home shortly after birth. The least amount of information given in these records is: the date of baptism, the child's name, the father's name and the witnesses. All baptisms were recorded. Home baptisms are noted as such and the person performing the baptism, if not the clergyman, is named. If the child lived, the baptism may have been confirmed in the church later. Therefore, one occasionally finds what looks like two baptism records for the same child. Any child born out-of-wedlock is clearly marked. After 1814 the printed forms called for the entry of; the date of birth, the date of baptism, the name of the child, the names of the parents, the residence and occupation of the father, and the witnesses or sponsors. Males and females are usually recorded on separate pages.
Note: A project is underway with the goal of making all Norwegian churchbooks available in the Digitalarkivet. Scanned images of many of the Valdres church books are already available. Parishes are listed by county; the Valdres Valley is in Oppland County. Click Here to see a list of available church books for Oppland County.
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Last updated: December 26, 2016
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