• Finding Finns who settled in Norway

    by "Snoberg"

    Many Northern Finns traveled West, and settled in Northern Norway. Norsk-Finns are sometimes referred to as Kvaen (Kvæn). In order to make life easier; when pressured by the government to become “Norwegianized”, they gave in. Many Finns, and Sami lost their original identities, and were from then on recorded as being ‘Norwegian’.

    In recent years, the Norwegian government has made available a free search engine called the Digitalarkivet. Though it is mostly in Norwegian, with a little practice, much can be successfully searched, knowing only English. Some of the English is limited, but the important things like navigation buttons have been made understandable. If you get to a page still in Norwegian, look for an English button in the lower blue navigation bar.

    It doesn’t matter what the “correct spelling” of a name or place is now; or even what it was then. Spelling is always at the mercy of the scribe; and influenced by the times; education; the scribe’s own ethnicity; and the quality of their handwriting. Deciphering what was originally intended, can at times be quite difficult.

    If you think your Finnish or Sami ancestor settled in Norway, try searching here:
    1. Go to Digitalarkivet
    2. From the blue navigation bar across the top; select the census year closest to the time after your relative may have moved to Norway. With each click, you will probably have to click English in the blue bar below, to get back to an English format. After awhile, you will be able to fill in what is called for, without this extra step.
    3. To simplify matters, ignore the options in the column on the left; and choose Surname (Etternamn) from the pull down menu under Documentation. Next choose Starting With (borja på) instead of equals. Then type in the first two or three letters of the surname you seek; then hit return/enter.
    4. A page of surnames starting with those two or three letters will be produced. Look through the names and select all the ones that look promising by clicking on the box next to the name. Go to the bottom of the list and click on the button Hald fram.
    5. The next page shows in which fylke in Norway those chosen surnames appear, for that particular census.
    6. Select where you want to search next by clicking on the number next to the location, under the column called Antall.
    7. This next page shows the community name and number where that family can be found within the chosen fylke. Click on that number under Antall.
    8. The next page will give you the name and information about the head of household who used that surname. Clicking on the blue number to the far left of the head-of-household’s name will give you the names of everyone recorded living in that household. In addition to family, and extended family, some may have been helpers (tjenstpige or tjenstdreng), or extended family, in particular Widows or Widowers (Enke or Foster children, presumably God Children whom they had sponsored.

    Good luck searching. :-)


    Friis Map of Finns in Finmarken ca. 1861

    A wonderful, hand drawn and colored map (kart) of Finmarken from 1861 can be found here.

    When you have decided on a possible location for where your relative may have settled on Norwegian soil, click on a likely region to start searching. This will provide a portion of the overall map that can be enlarged for easier reading.

    Places that were settled in 1861 are identified with little symbols that tell about each household; whether they were Norwegian, Finnish, or Sami; what languages were spoken; and whether they lived in a permanent house or as nomads in a tent (laavu).

    There is a legend for deciphering the little symbols located in the second column from the right, and in the third and fourth sections of map, down.


    Where in the World Are These Places Today?

    When the location of a place name can be discovered, it suddenly means so much more. When you come across a place name, and you don’t know where it is located, try looking in the Global Gazetteer Version 2.2. It may not have100% of the answers, but it is pretty good. Remember though, it uses modern locations and spellings.

    i.e. - If looking for either Nord-Varanger or Sør-Varanger, try looking for Varangerboten; which means the end, or bottom of Varanger fjord.
    One census record shows a particular residence as being Vestre Fjordbund; - and the birthplace as Sør-Varanger. This individual was probably born near the West end, on the South side of Varanger fjord. It may not be exact, but it is probably pretty close.

    The great people at Travel Genie maps have retired.

    This following source carries maps of Sweden. I have not done business with them.
    Does anyone know of any good mail order sources of detailed Finnish, and other Scandinavian maps?
    Or, are there any online sources of old maps like the maps of Finnmark above?
    If so, please let me know. :-)

    written by Finlander user "Snoberg"
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