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Census returns

 

Municipal censuses

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 municipal census.

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 Kristiania/Oslo

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 from Kristiania/Oslo


Klikk 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 marital status.

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 address.

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 servants occur.

The most complete collection of returns is from the year 1834, and it is available as pdf-file. Click here 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 of birth.

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 the censuses.

Tilbake

 

 

Municipal censuses

Years and dates of censuses in Kristiania/Oslo

Arrangement of data in the censuses of Kristiania/Oslo

Contents of the censuses from Kristiania/Oslo

Censuses from Aker 19th century

Censuses from Aker 20th century

Microfilm

Access to records