Finding Hans Loe, my Norwegian great-grandfather, is very satisfying, especially in light of my floundering beginning efforts and not knowing enough about Norwegian records.

Is there anything more satisfying that figuring out primary source records in another language? I don’t think so! And Norway may be the exception to the rule that it’s easier to do overseas research in SLC than it is in the country in question.

Some time ago, I wrote of my attempts at Norwegian genealogical research to find the birth and baptism of Hans Christensen Loe in 1854. This included a fruitless visit to the Family History Library.

I was getting nowhere fast, until I discovered the National Archives of Norway (Arkivverket). They also have a Digitalarkivet containing scanned census and parish registers. This vast digital set of primary sources is free to everyone. I also found a tutorial that helps you navigate the records. Marvelous!

I’d done some reading about Norwegian naming conventions and patronymics, but then I found this at the Digitalarkivet:

Norwegian habitational name from any of several farms named Lo, from Old Norse Ló, of uncertain etymology. (

I decided to try to find Hans in the 1865 census first to get a better fix on his location. I went to the Norwegian Historical Data Centre (NHDC) at the University of Tromsø. And there was my great-grandfather at 11 years of age. He was living with his widowed mother, Siri Eriksdatter, and three siblings. They lived on a farm called Loesmoen (Loe’s meadow) in Eiker, (now Øvre Eiker), Buskerud. The original farm was Lo Vestre.

With a lot of patient encouragement from the Roots Web Norway list, finding Hans Loe and his parents in the 1854 baptism records of the Haug Kirke was not so hard.

So finally found! He was a lumberjack and a tailor – one of those family stories that turned out to be true. More on him in the future as I learn more about doing Norwegian research.