The Oslo City Archives has
close to eight hundred meters of municipal censuses
from Kristiania and Aker, mainly from the period
1899 to 1954. However, some older censuses exist;
from Aker from the year 1832 to 1843, and from Kristiania
from 1883. Censuses older than sixty years are available
to the public.
Years and dates of censuses in Kristiania/Oslo
The first municipal census in Kristiania was held
in 1863. Between 1867 and 1954 censuses were conducted
(with some exceptions) annually. Before 1899 it
seems to have been common practice to dispose of
the documents from an old census once a new census
had been held and the information compared. With
the exception of 1883 – most of which has
been preserved – censuses conducted before
1899 are lost.
Why big parts of the census of 1883 have been saved,
we don't know. As far as we have observed the following
parts of the city are missing: most of Jakob’s
parish, large parts of Rodeløkka and the
whole of Bjølsen.
Although municipal censuses were held in Kristiania/Oslo
almost annually, in those years when a national
census was held, there would normally not be any
The date of the census was the 31st of December
up to 1905, while from 1907 to 1920 it was on the
1st of February. In 1911 there was no census because
a national census had been conducted on Dec. 1st,
1910. The next national census was held Dec. 1st,
1920. Although this census was national, the city
continued to use the 1st of December as its census
date from that on. Due to the national census of
October 7th, 1939, no municipal census was held
that year. The next municipal censuses were held
on Sept. 15th 1940, and thereafter on Dec. 1st 1941,
1942 and 1943. Because of the paper shortage the
following census was not taken until April 10th
1946. A new census was held on Nov. 3rd 1947, and
from 1948 onwards Oct. 1st became the permanent
date of census.
Arrangement of data in the censuses of
The municipal censuses in Kristiania have always
been arranged as listings of properties. Since 1827
the matricul (register of properties) in the city
has been organised according to the way properties
have been attached to a street and assigned a number.
The lowest number is in one of the ends of the street
– normally the one closest to the city center
– and so that even numbers go on the one side
of the street and odd numbers on the other. In the
older parts of the city there is no system deciding
what side should have even vs. odd numbers. This
system replaced the old numbers of the matricul
in two series: "inden byen" and "uden
byen" – inside and outside town; in the
old trading territory – which we find in the
national census of 1801 and in the lists of taxation
up to 1843. I the censuses, the streets have been
organized alphabetically, and each property listed
in ascending numbers.
Before 1905 – that is 1883, 1899, 1901, 1902,
1903 and 1904 – the censuses only consist
of these main, or property records, and brief information
about the residents are written on the reverse of
the questionnaires. In later censuses the main records
only contain the numbers of flats, rooms and dwellers
in each flat. In addition come the resident records
– one questionnaire for every flat.
Contents of the censuses
for å se bildet større
The census of 1883 was organized into the following
columns: Floor in the building, name of the residents,
position – which may be anything from "retired
lieutenant of the artillery" to "son",
and year of birth. This information was given (and
continued to be given) by the dwellers themselves,
the forms normally being filled out by one member
of each household.
The censuses of 1899 and 1901 asked for floor in
the building, name, year of birth, place of birth
(here residents had to write the name of the parish
or city, or, if the person was born outside Norway,
the country where he/she was born), profession and
The housing part of the census has information
about how many floors in the building, whether there
are flats in the attic and how many flats were occupied
by families. The size of the flats is given, but
this information is not linked to the lists of residents.
It is therefore not possible to find out how many
rooms each family occupied.
The censuses of 1902 and 1903 asked for floor,
name, year of birth, profession and marital status
– all like the previous censuses. However,
they did not ask about place of birth, although
required information about unemployment during the
previous year. The census of 1904 is like those
of 1899 and 1901, but also asked about when people
had moved into town.
In the census of 1905 records devoted to the register
of civilians (as opposed to property-based registers)
were introduced – one for each household.
This census asked for more detailed information,
so that one should not only give the year, but also
the date of birth. There was a question about permanent
settlement at an address, and if not permanently
settled; where the person(s) normally lived. There
was also a question about national citizenship and
the citizens’ addresses at the time of the
previous census. The reason for this was the establishment
of the Municipal Bureau of Vital Statistics of Kristiania.
That office used the records of the censuses to
keep its records up to date. All information given
in the census was cross-checked with the information
from the previous census, and we can see that most
of the people have been ticked off with blue pencil
in the record as this comparison has been done.
From 1907 onwards there has been minimal changes
to the type of information recorded in the censuses.
What the bureau requires is: full name, year and
date of birth, place of birth, profession, marital
status, where one lived at the time of the previous
census, and – if one had moved since then
– the date of the last move and from what
In comparison with information in the national
census of 1900 (which is digitalized and available
on www.digitalarkivet.uib.no) little has changed.
The only differences are that from 1907 you get
birth dates, and (as a small detail) the place of
birth is given as the name of the city or municipality.
There were no reservations about only writing the
name of the country, if one came from abroad so
that immigrants often included the name of the parish
or city in their homeland. The stucco-worker Giuseppe
Antonio Alberti, therefore, did not write "Italia"
as his place of birth, but "Varallo".
Thus for genealogists these censuses could give
some very important information. Unfortunately however,
many foreigners only wrote "Værmland"
or "Sverige" here, and did not indicate
exactly which region they came from.
Censuses from Aker 19th century
Some single census returns
from 1832 to 1836 and from 1840 and 1842 have been
almost completely preserved from the whole main
parish of Aker. From these questionnaires one small
booklet was produced for each of the districts –
often called "fjerding" or "rode"
– every year. The censuses were made by local
appointees and school teachers in order to gather
information for collecting taxes on behalf of the
regional commissions (/ authorities) to fund schools
and benefits for the poor. It is also likely that
the censuses were useful sources of information
for planning the work of the governing commissions
in the biggest country parish in Norway.
In most cases the returns have the name of the
settlement, the name and age of the dwellers, and
in some districts also residents’ professions.
Some (limited) information about the economical
standard of the family also occurs, for example,
"Labourer and utterly poor".
In some cases only adult persons are named. Children
are either not noted or only the number of them
recorded. The information is generally poorer in
the part of the municipality which we today call
Nordstrand, and for Ullern much information is also
lacking. For some districts separate returns for
The most complete collection of returns is from
the year 1834, and it is available as pdf-file.
to go to this website.
From 1843 returns from Sørkedalen, Nedre
Gjelleråsfjerdingen, Nordre Vestbygden and
Ekebergfjerdingen are preserved.
From 1860 a return from Sørkedalen has
been kept. Here inhabitants’ native towns
are registered (in accordance with the law of poor
commissions), and whether they have received benefits
from the poor commission. Most persons are noted
with full name and age, in many cases also date
Censuses from Aker 20th century
Modern censuses based on the pattern from Kristiania
were made for the first time in Aker in 1917. New
censuses were held in 1918, 1921, 1923, 1926, 1935
and 1939. The date was always Dec. 1st. The two
oldest censuses are organized according to districts
("roder"), while the later are organized
on parish and within these alphabetically by roads.
Houses lying in regulated areas, and with numbers
to the road, are listed in ascending order. Houses
outside regulated areas are organized in alphabetical
order. If only a part of a road is in a regulated
area, houses with numbers are listed before those
without. Some irregularities occur, for instance
Ullevål hageby is joined in the end of the
section of Vestre Aker in some of the censuses.
Access to records
To protect personal privacy all municipal censuses
are only available for public access after sixty
years. Exception can be made for statistical or
scientific use after a written request is submitted
and permission granted. However, national censuses
are under the Law of statistics of 1907, which puts
a ban on them for common use for one hundred years.
Due to much use, The
Oslo City Archives has microfilmed the oldest censuses.
These are now only available on film, while the
younger can be read in original in our reading room.
Due to the large amount there are no plans of digitalizing