Norwegian Special Interest Group

The group meets on the 4th Tuesday of the month (except December) at 7:00 p.m. at the library. The group is designed for learning how to research in Norway, helping others in their search for ancestors, sharing: information, websites, and ideas of other and new resources.

This group was “organized” in Aug 2003 with the purpose to help each other in their own individual research. We meet on the 4th Tuesday of each month except December when there is no meeting. We average 15 people in attendance each meeting, but there are over 30 people on the “roster”. Many of our members live outside of the Des Moines area. Monthly email reminder notices are sent out to members about 5 days before the meeting. We have no officers and no dues.

Linda Greethurst usually develops the schedule for the evening and leads the discussion. However, if someone brings up a question that requires more time, the original discussion plans are held until another meeting. In other words, the participants in the group usually have no idea what to expect as the main subject of each meeting night.

A typical meeting starts with any basic announcements regarding members, classes or activities that may be coming up, etc. Then, there is always a time for sharing anything that a person wishes to show and tell or to demonstrate, to celebrate a “find”, or share a process of research to explore. There is always a time for specific questions when an individual may wish to have help finding a record, reading it (translation), etc. in their personal research. The main part of the meeting is devoted to “how-to”.

We are a “hands on” type of group. Our main source for information is a website called Digitalarkivet which contains all Norwegian census and all parish records in Norway. We spend a lot of time each month going through the process of how to search successfully on this website and to make sure an individual is following the ancestry of the correct person. The challenge here is that the surname changes with each generation and spelling issues. There are many handouts covering topics: banns, probates, dictionaries, baptism sponsors, confirmation requirements, introductions, church districts–anything that has to do with understanding the Norwegian life of our ancestors. We learn how to use a variety of maps; we constantly review the naming process within most families; the use of farm names, etc. Handouts may also contain many Norwegian websites to explore or “how-to” search successfully on those websites for their ancestor. We help each other read and translate records.

We do cover a few topics of basic genealogy as a new member usually needs to do more research in the US before they are ready to research in Norway; so as a group we help them with that process. We have also discussed DNA, cloud storage, various members have shared slides of their trips to Norway, and we have shared various ways of keeping track of our records (filing systems). We discussed how to use the digital camera in our research and we had a presentation on using the Paint program to “fix” up those pictures.