08 October 2017

Facebook Groups, a new way to ask for help.

As we come close to the end of 2017, it's safe to assume that everyone is familiar with Facebook. That is, they know the premise behind the ... "a social networking site that makes it easy for you to connect and share with your family and friends online."

Originally designed for college students, Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg while he was enrolled at Harvard University. On September 26, 2006, anyone who claims to be at least 13 years old has been allowed to become a registered user of Facebook. By 2007 Facebook users wanted more exclusivity with whom they shared 'posts'; thus the development of PAGES and ultimately GROUPS. The distinction between the two has been a never ending conversation: see FB Page or Group.

In today's social circles ... amongst friends, at church functions, in the workplace, etc. you will hear:
  • ... look on my Facebook page
  • ... I uploaded the pictures to Facebook
  • ... have you looked at their Facebook Page? 
  • Find US on Facebook
There are many people who have joined and have NEVER look back. Many who create a profile and then forget about it - or forget their password. There are even those that have been 'hacked' and close their Facebook account - never to return. I have a few friends in the latter category. And finally others who have NEVER 'joined' the Facebook community for their own personal reasons. In fact, neither of my two brothers nor several of my college friends are 'on Facebook'. 

THAT SAID, there are some of us that do venture into the world of Facebook. I joined on May 26, 2008. That same day, my youngest step-daughter wrote on my 'feed' "Hi Luci!!! wow! when did you get facebook??"  Since that time I've initiated Facebook profiles for my [then] employer; for civic groups I belong to, and most recently established I've created one specifically focused on genealogy. 

What I'd like to share with you all today, is the concept of
Facebook (closed) Groups.
A FaceBook (FB) Group is created by one individual (or a team of persons), called an Administrator. A group has a intended purpose, generally to exchange information on a particular subject. A 'closed' group is one where users must get approval, from the Administrator (Admin) to join. The Admin manages the group, approves applicants or invites others to join. Because of these privacy settings, Facebook's groups are analogous to clubs in the offline world. 
The challenge, sometimes, is to discover that there is a Group which piques your interest. You can do a search for groups on Facebook, but I thought I'd share a few here, with you, that are 'honed in' on Norwegian and/or Norwegian-American genealogy, history, reading, etc. At the end of this post you will find a list of 'things I've learned' while participating in these (or similar) FB Groups. 
The oldest one was started in April 2007 and the most recent one is one I established this past month. All of them are 'closed' groups. I've put a live-link to each of the groups; stated when they were launched / how many members; the stated purpose; the names of the Administrators; and a reference to various files that I've found useful (from a given FB Group). You will have to be a member of the group to access the file(s). Finally, when appropriate, I've loaded an image of the header. 
Norwegian Genealogy

  • Launched April 27, 2007 and currently has 9,100 members
  • Purpose: "to help one another learn how to research our Norwegian heritage and to find Norwegian ancestors as well as relatives using only printed sources."
  • Administrators: Vickie Hart, Missy Hammell, Robert N. Barbara Anderson, and Terry D. Romstad
  • Files: Bygdebøker (posted July 4, 2012 by Darin Flansburg); The oldest Church Registers in Norwegian parishes (posed by C.S. Schilbred); Former Norwegian Towns that are gone today (posted Feb 2017, by Nancy Stensland); Old Scan Script Syllabus 2016 version (posted December 2016 by Missy Hammell); Norwegian Census Abbreviations (posted by Terry D. Romstad)

Minnesota Norwegians – genealogy

  • Launched June 25, 2013 and currently has 3,506 members
  • Purpose: "This is a group for those researching Norwegian ancestors who settled in the great state of Minnesota!! Ask a question, share a story, post a picture, start a genealogy-related discussion, etc."
  • Administrators: Tom Standal and Vickie Hart
  • Files: A Handbook of Norwegian-American ancestry (posted April 2016 by Inger Gorgan)

  • Launched January 24, 2014 and currently has 2,242 members
  • Purpose: "For anyone with an interest in North and South Dakota Norwegian Genealogy. If you have family that came to North or South Dakota from Norway and are searching for information, this is the place to be. If you need help in Norway you can ask away, there are many who love to help!"
  • Administrators: Tj Sutherland, Margit Nystvold Bakke, Becky Olson Wood
  • Files: Norwegian naming Practices by Olaf Kringhaug (posed January 2014 by Margit Nystvold Bakke); Nasjoalbibitoket Galleri NOR (posed May 2, 2017 by Tj Sutherland); Research Helps (compiled and posted by Margit Nysetvold Bakke); Scandinavian ND Map - Scandinavian Population in 1965 (posted December 2016 by Margit Nystvold Bakke); County Biographical Books and Norwegian Bygdeboker on File for Lookups (posted January 2014 by Margit Nystvold Bakke); and Research Helps for North and South Dakota Norwegian Genealogy (posted by Margit Nystvold Bakke)

  • Launched March 13, 2010 by Glen Olson and currently has 509 members
  • Purpose: "The Valdres Samband is the oldest and largest bygdelag in America, founded in 1899 - to become a member, check out our website: www.valdressamband.org."
  • Administrators: Tom Standal, Anne Sladky and Bruce Weaver II

  • Launched May 18, 2014 by Vickie Hart and currently has 503 members
  • Purpose: "Many Norwegian immigrants settled in Iowa (although they may have first lived in another state.) Join this group to share your Norwegian-Iowa connection, stories, photos, etc. Or post questions/brick walls about your Norwegian ancestors! I'm rounding up the "best of the best" Norwegian genealogy researchers to join this group!"
  • Administrators: Tom Standal and Vickie Hart

  • Launched April 4, 2009 by Karla Mattila and currently has 489 members
  • Purpose: "For members in good standing, past and present, of Norwaylist@rootsweb.com to share."
  • Administrators: Karla Mattila

  • Launched May 24, 2015 and currently has 489 members
  • Purpose "Have a favorite book about Norway? Read a good book about Norway or by a Norwegian recently? Looking for a book on Norway to borrow or buy? Have one to sell?"
  • Administrator: Roberta Morrow

  • Launched August 24, 2014 by Margit Nystevold Bakke and currently has 3,232 members
  • Purpose: Norwegian-American lags Facebook group has been started to help get information out about all the lags that can be joined from the various areas of Norway. There is a website online that can be checked for information: www.fellesraad.com.
  • Administrators: Tom Standal, Becky Olson Wood, and Margit Nystvold Bakke

  • Launched September 21, 2017 by Luci Baker Johnson and currently has 51 members
  • Purpose "Please keep posts related to the history of Norwegians in or from St. Paul, or at least Ramsey County. Leeway will be given for references to other Scandinavian groups and even Minneapolis, but the focus is really on St. Paul Norwegian-Americans. Include pictures whenever possible, and make sure to credit the source of all photos if they are not from your own personal collection."
  • Administrator: Luci Baker Johnson

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • 
Final Thoughts
I'm a member of each of these Facebook Groups, and several other groups. The last one was launched, partly,  because of personal experiences that I've had as a group member. I've also learned a few lessons along the way and want to share them with you. So, here they are, in no particular order.
  1. Look for and read carefully the notes from the Administrators. There are NO TWO FB Groups that are alike. Each group has it's own personality as well as what is allowed and what is prohibited. 
  2. Before you post something, use the search engine on the top left side of the page. Search to see if the topic has already been addressed. Once you've searched, you can filter the search by "posted by, tagged location, and date posted". 
  3. An overlooked feature is the tab on the left titled FILES. This is where Administrators and Group members have uploaded Word documents and PDF's. Some people have done a great job in 'naming' these files -- others, not so much. (There is no 'standard' way to post these, some are kind of funky.) The nice thing, is that you can find these easily. 
  4. The people in the Groups are often, very very helpful. Some live in the US, others in Norway and other places. Realize that they are helping because they enjoy doing so, don't take advantage of them. AND thank them. I've even seen some who have 'uploaded' scanned pages from bygdeboker
  5. I recommend that you copy and past discussions that you want to be able to refer back to. Same them as either a Word document or a PDF -- on your computer. I say this, because, I've gone back to look for something that posted and it's gone or been removed by the Admin. 

Good luck!  Share your thoughts, please.

06 October 2017

Where do I begin, my Norwegian Genealogy Research

When I initially thought about researching my Norwegian ancestors, in 1999, 'over the ocean', I froze. That is, my internal dialogue was "What in the world are you thinking? You can't read Norwegian and all of the records will be IN NORWEGIAN!"  True enough.

But, over time and bit by bit I began to tackle this insurmountable challenge. It was all self-taught and took massive hours of patience, study and tenacity. I still have a long way to go, but I feel much more confident these days.

Today, however, it's a much easier journey. That is with the introduction of the internet and the fact that several Norwegian entities have worked hard to make materials more accessible to those of us 'overseas'. Many have even taken the extra step to publish materials in ENGLISH.

Last evening I came across a brochure that will be beneficial to anyone who wants to 'cross the ocean' virtually. The brochure was a collaboration between

the National Library of Norway

the National Archives of Norway, and

DIS-Norge, the largest genealogy association in Norway

A Handbook of Norwegian-American Ancestry

You may find it helpful to click on the link and download the PDF to your computer. It walks you through the vital records available in Norway, addresses the question of 'old Norwegian naming customs', and explains how bygdebøker can be useful in doing lineage research. It also clearly explains the three repositories that can be accessed (virtually) to find those gold nuggets of family history. It also provides links to these organizations, and in the case of DIS-Norway, talks about a particular database called Gravminner (the Norwegian name of the DIS Headstone database).

Final note. It's a journey, not a race. Enjoy the time you spend on researching your family history, but be sure to record and document where you gleaned your information.

01 October 2017

What Separates Norwegian Lutherans in America?

I’ve found that among the most eye-opening dialogues are those between early Norwegian-Americans. Two such men in particular come to mind: Rev. U. V. Koren and Martin Ulvestad. Their debate focused on the question of “Why is There No Church Unity Among Norwegian Lutherans in America?”

Source: Luther Seminary • ELCA Region 3 Archives

Martin Ulvestad (1865-1942) was born in Volda, Møre og Romsdal, Norway, and immigrated at age 20 in 1888 from Trondheim. His ‘claim to fame’ was as an author, publisher, and historian. He lived in Minneapolis, Tacoma, and Seattle (1917-1942). The 1930 Federal Census lists his occupation as "Publisher, Norwegian Genealogy." You can read more about him at Great Norwegian Lexicon and The Promise of America. His final resting spot is listed on Find-A-Grave Memorial #84290423. He is best known for his two volume Norwegian language history "Nordmændene i Amerika" (Norwegians in America) was published in 1907. It was translated and republished in this century by Astri My Astri Publishing.

Rev Ulrik Vilhelm Koren (1826-1910) was a Norwegian-American author, theologian and church leader, as well as a pioneer Lutheran minister who served at Little Iowa Congregation (later called Washington Prairie Lutheran) in Winneshiek County, Iowa. He was the first Lutheran minister from Norway to settle west of the Mississippi.  You can read about him on the Great Norwegian Lexicon, and find his final resting spot on Find-A-Grave Memorial #133783360.  On a personal note, he was the minister of the church my mother’s paternal family attended, and was also the mentor and role model for my grandfather, Rev. Gustav Hegg.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Mr. Ulvestad made several public statements in various publications, asking the question, What separates Norwegian Lutherans in America? He followed this with the following challenge: “What is needed is a straightforward explanation and comparison of the doctrinal differences that are said to exist.”

Mr. Ulvestad continued, saying, “…[I’ve] come to the conclusion, that it is [Norwegian Lutheran] Christianity, and not our doctrinal concepts, that has suffered the most.” He wrote, “If this were the main issue about which there was disagreement, namely, the way to life in God and the way to salvation, then there would be no talk of uniting. One cannot compromise the Word of God. The way which God has prescribed seems, however, to be clear enough, if only we would follow it.”

Reverend Koren, an octogenarian, took up the challenge and wrote a public response to Mr. Ulvestad's question, which was then printed in the Clergy Bulletin in 1905. The piece was lengthy – 15,400 words – and covered a vast amount of history and theology.

Today we have the opportunity to read and study the famous article in English translation You can read it online here:

If you are up to the challenge, please read the piece and share some of your thoughts about it.

30 September 2017

Norwegian Naming Patterns, Expertly explained in a YouTube Video

Brad Imsdahl is a descendant of Norwegian immigrants who came to Minnesota. He's done a wonderful job of telling his family immigrant story, via a 25 minute mini-documentary, from Oppland Co., Norway to Brooten, Stearns and Pope Co. Minnesota. Brad’s great-grandparents, Peder and Marit Imsdal came from the Imsdalen, a remote valley located north of Lillehammer in Oppland County Norway. Peder immigrated in May 1884, worked on a farm, and later sent money to Norway for his wife and son to immigrate. 

The YouTube video explores the reasons why so many Norwegians immigrated to Minnesota, about the Homestead Act, and why people changed their name, after immigrating.  Of note, is Brad's explanation of the naming patterns, of Norwegians, (4 minutes) at 9:48. It should also be noted that these patterns varied through time and from area to area.

I learned of Brad, and his video, from a Norwegian Blogger named Martin Eidhammer. His picture and brief bio are below, as well as a link to his blog:  Norwegian Genealogy and then some: Genealogy, history and culture from Norway.

Martin Roe Eidhammer is a Norwegian Blogger, living in Norway. He’s married,
has three children and is, by profession, a psychiatric nurse. He grew up in Vestnes in Romsdal
 (Møre og Romsdal county) and we are now living in Skjevik, east of the town Molde (M&R county)

27 September 2017

Understanding the new Digitalarkivet website - Launched May 2017

Kitty Munson Cooper is a "a blogger, genetic genealogist, genealogist, programmer, web designer, speaker, mother, grandmother, gardener, dog lover, cat lover, and World Champion Bridge player." who writes a blog titled:


I recently discovered this blog when I went on a journey to understand the new Digitalarkivet web site. The site, at first glance, appears to be rather stright forward, however I'm having challenges navigating it and wanted some insights. Kitty provided this in a blog posting that she wrote February 6, 2017 and updated on June 6, 2017.

In Kitty's own words ...
Searching the Norwegian Digital Archives, a Rootstech Talk 
Many of us Norwegian-American researchers have been complaining about the new archives and its search function. So I went to the talk by Finn Karlsen of the Digitalarkivet hoping to gain a better understanding. Of course the first thing he told us was that the old archive would die at the end of March as would the links we might have been using in our trees to reference data there. This is not news as we have been hearing it for a while... keep reading.
Kitty also has some other interesting posts that may be of interest:

Check out her blog. It's well worth reading.

You can also read about the 'launching of the new digital archives (website) on the sites blog: 

posted, May 26, 2017

17 September 2017

Uncoding Gothic Script

I recently attended an online Webinar (a seminar that is conducted over the World Wide Web) hosted by the Illinois State Genealogical Society. The title was  "Luxembourgers on the Prairie: Researching your Luxembourg Ancestors" presented by a good friend, Lisa Oberg,  She is a self proclaimed librarian, genealogist, and history enthusiast who lives and works in Seattle.  The premise of the webinar, as stated in her fabulous handout, begins with "Small, but might, Luxembourg is a European county with a distinct culture and heritage. Throughout history, the county has been ruled by Germany, Franc, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain."  I'm not a Luxembourger, but the information she shared was amazing and useful for anyone.

One of the many items she discussed was the fact that the records are written in a script that is not easy to decipher. Blackletter (sometimes 'black letter'), also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura is frequently encountered in northern European texts. It is also referenced as Fraktur, a calligraphic hand of the Latin alphabet and the several blackletter typefaces derived from this hand. 

To date, there are no known online tools to automatically translate from documents written in this script into English. :( 

That said, I want to share with you a few links that I learned from Lisa as well as a recent reference to Gothic Script that I read in the Fall 2016 issue of Currents - The Newsletter of the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA). Below is a clipping from that newsletter. It provides suggestions on how to read the Dano-Norwegian language that was used in Norway. 

The author of the piece, Dale Hovland, is a member of the Hadeland Lag and a volunteer with the NAHA at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Kudos to him for sharing his knowledge.

Two of the many weblinks Lisa provided in her webinar handout help the user understand how to navigate the script. 

The first: German Script Tutorial, provided by the BYU Family History Center. This site provides background information that can be useful in understanding what you are seeing on the printed page. 

The second: German Scripts – Stephen P. Morse is located on the website produced by Stephen P. Morse: One Step Search Pages.  These links are widely used by genealogists throughout the world. 

I highly recommend that you check out all of the links in the Blog post, for further insight on how to read documents 'from the old country.'

21 November 2016

Still Yule-festing!

Four out of five Nearby Norwegians made it to this year's Yulefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle on Sunday, November 20.  Within a few years, the Nordic Heritage Museum will be moving to a brand new site, and we'll have more to explore during our Yulefest get-togethers.

Clockwise from upper left:  Carolyn Merritt, Chery Kinnick, Cathy Lykes, and Luci Baker Johnson (missing this year is Barbara Holz Sullivan).