Scanned versions of the Norwegian church books (records of births and christenings, confirmations, marriages, deaths etc.) have been available at Digitalarkivet.no since 2005. Now the scanned versions of the probate records will soon be available. A test version was published already today, 28 October 2009.
The new service will offer navigation in and presentation of the scanned material of probate records. The service is based on the records that are already microfilmed, but will later be expanded to also include the rest of the records, which have to be scanned from the original.
Riksarkivet (The Norwegian National Archives) have scanned the micro films, while the indexing of the pictures is done in a common effort between the National Archives and the state (regional) archives. In the indexing catalogue data, page types and page numbers are connected to each picture. The goal is to make it possible to leaf through the scanned pictures. The distinction between page types makes it possible to make links directly to the register pages of the probate protocols, where such exists. The page number indexing opens for the possibility to go directly to a certain page in the protocol, if one already knows the page number of the probate record one is interested in.
The service also gives the possibility to use the transcribed and searchable probate registers in Digitalarkivet. The probate records protocols which are included in the searchable registers, have links to those registers. In reverse order there are links from each administration of an estate (person) in the register to the relevant page in the protocol.
It should be stressed that it is not possible to make a search in the text of the scanned pages.
Riksarkivet’s microfilm collection of probate records covers civil, clerical and military estate administrations from the middle of the 17th century to some years into the 19th century. The last year of the microfilmed material vary from district to district, but there are relatively few probate records younger than 1850 that are microfilmed.
Riksarkivet’s microfilm collection of deaths protocols is also included in the new service. This material only includes Oslo, Bergen and the counties of Akershus and Østfold. Some of the protocols include records up to around 1970.
A user’s guide in English will surely be available later.
It shouldn’t be necessary to stress what an impact the scanned version of the probate records will have for genealogists. Even if the records are not searchable, it will be much more convenient for most people to go through the records at home instead of having to travel to the nearest archives. Participants in Digitalarkivet's discussion forum have already described the new service as Christmas Eve in advance!