Q. Name of area
Norway, but sometimes single provinces.
Q. Current status:
Q. If the area has no current legal identity, when was it defined and by whom?
Q. Outline history:
Norway was in a union with Denmark until 1814, then with Sweden until 1905. Norway/Denmark lost territories to Sweden in the 17th and 18th centuries. The border with Russia was fixed in 1825. There were many changes to the province or county borders before 1800, and many changes to the municipality borders later.
Q. Describe the MODERN hierarchy of geographical areas used for civil administration:
The bottom layer: 450 to 725 parishes or municipalities. Population size 500 to ½ million.
Next layer: judicial districts, not important any more.
Next layer: 20 counties, we prefer to call them provinces since most are big.
Top layer: regions (but limited importance)
Q. How long has this system existed?
Q. Describe earlier administrative geographies.
The parishes and towns were then the smallest administrative districts, and above them the judicial districts were the important units.
Q. Can we identify a hierarchy of broadly similar units that exist for all countries?
To be discussed in Florence
Q. When was the first national census of population carried out?
There were male censuses in the 1660s, women were included in the 1769 census, and the first full nominative census was taken in 1801.
Q. Outline the later history of the census. Have censuses been carried out at regular intervals, and if so with what frequency?
There were decennial statistical censuses from 1815 to 1855, and mostly decennial nominative censuses from 1865 to 2001.
Q. What are the main geographical units used in published reports? Have these changed over time?
Municipalities and provinces. In the 19th century the parishes, judicial districts and regions were more important.
Q. Is there access to more detailed unpublished information? If so, what geographical units do these refer to? Here again, have these units changed over time?
There are machine readable statistics on the sub-municipality census tract level available for the 1950 to 1990 censuses from the Norwegian Social Sciences Data Services (NSD). Cf url http://www.nsd.uib.no/english/data/regional.html (The information in Norwegian is more detailed.) The units for 1960 and 1970 are internally comparable, as are 1980 and 1990. Data for earlier censuses can be found in the manuscripts. Nominative data from before 1907 may be used without any restrictions, while researchers can apply to use later data sets for statistical purposes. The 1801, 1865 and 1900 census manuscripts are machine readable for the whole country, 1875 for major parts, 1891, 1910 and 1920 only exceptionally. For access see the documentation link below.
Q. What publications describe the history of the census, and of census geographies? Are any available in English?
Cf url http://www.rhd.uit.no/census.htm. The municipality changes are documented in reports from the NSD.
Q. When was the recording of vital events (births, marriages and deaths) first required by law?
In the 1680s.
Q. What organisation was responsible for recording vital events? How has this changed over time?
The church. A population register was created during the War.
Q. What geographical units were used in recording vital events?
Parishes until the 1860's then municipalities. Region level data are available from 1735, parish level from the 1850s. The manuscripts are available after 80 years.
Digitized data sets for municipalities exist for the period 1860's to 1920, together with nominative data for a number of parishes.
Q. What historical taxation records exist for your area?
The 1886 nationwide farm tax inventory is available on the web for searching and downloading, cf url http://www.rhd.uit.no/matrikkel.html. The 1838 and 1950 are being computerized. Farm tax lists from the 1540s have been printed. Poll tax register manuscripts exist locally.
Q. What geographical units do these use?
The farm tax uses individual farms, groups of farms, municipalities and provinces. These data sets have not been aggregated, but this can be done from the downloadable Excel files.
Q. What other major sources exist, and what geographical units do they use?
The 1865 and 1875 censuses include farm production data.
The wide array of variables available in the Municipality and Census Tract databases from the NSD are described at the url given above.
This is about MODERN computerised maps, which we assume exist for every country.
Q. When was the first computerised map of administrative units created?
In the 1970s
Q. What does it show?
Municipality boundaries, coastlines and the biggest lakes.
Q. How easily is it to obtain a copy?
It is freely available for academic use from the NSD in various formats.
NB any HISTORICAL record of boundaries must include records of boundary CHANGES.
Q. Who was responsible for changing boundaries?
The government Department of the interior - from 1903 the Law department, with consent from the Parliament and sometimes a referendum.
Q. Who was responsible for creating a legal record of boundary changes?
Cf the previous question, information can also be found in publications from Statistics Norway.
Q. What records have been preserved of boundary changes? Are they published or unpublished? How do they describe the old and new boundaries? How accurately do they give the dates of changes?
From 1837 they are included in the parliamentary reports with year and often dates. Borders may be given a fuzzy description, especially in remote and mountainous areas.
Q. Who was responsible for mapping your area? When was this organisation created?
Statens kartverk (The Norwegian Mapping Authority) previously called Geographical Surveys was established in 1773 as a military institution.
Q. When did systematic mapping of boundaries begin?
Then and subsequently in greater detail, especially from the 1870s
Q. What maps are available showing boundaries? (Answers will need to cover what type of boundaries, i.e. down to parish or commune; what scales of maps; whether they are published; what dates of publication)
This is a big question, one volume inventories have been published for each province listing historical maps. Modern maps are printed in scales from 1:10000 and up. Digitised versions can be bought from Statens kartverk, for instance a newly released CD-rom with maps in scale 1:50000 and 22000 place names.
Q. For periods before maps are available, are there descriptions of boundaries in words? Where are they preserved? How easy are they to interpret?
A volume about each province was published from 1876 to 1916 by Amund Helland (Amtsbeskrivelser). More details can be found in the National and Regional Archives. The latter manuscripts may be in gothic handwriting and hard to read.
Q. What research projects have gathered information on HISTORICAL boundaries for your area?
The Municipality Database incorporated a longitudinal database of coordinates from the 1970s.
The 1801 project compared modern and contemporary province and municipality/parish borders in the published report with aggregate statistics and an introduction in English.
The mortality decline project mapped parish boundaries for the 1850s.
In addition there are a number of relevant local community studies.
Q. What historical gazetteers are available for your area, in published or unpublished form? How do they indicate the location of the places listed? Do they cover variant forms of names?
Of the two volume publication from the NSD on the municipalities: Brosveet, J et al: Kommuneendringer 1838-1978. For each municipality the changes relative to the neighbouring municipalities are listed, together with the approximate population transferred. The lists are sequenced topographically. Other gazetteers are available, for instance containing current or historical postal addresses.
Q. Are more specialised geographical thesaurii available?
This is partly covered in the publications listed under the previous question. Most Norwegian farm names with different spellings together with the municipalities they belong to are available at url http://www.dokpro.uio.no/rygh_ng/rygh_form.html .
© Gunnar Thorvaldsen (Tromso, 22 May 2000)