The project will develop an infrastructure with three parts:
1. a Historic Population Register from 1801,
2. a full national register over all properties and residences from 1820 and
3. a system for linking across thematic historical registers using the population and property register
This will expand microdata coverage for the entire Norwegian population from 60 years and two generations to 220 years and seven generations. All persons living in Norway the last 220 years will get a unique ID. The project builds a unique data infrastructure with no international parallel and with high relevance for a host of research topics in fields such as history, demography, economics, sociology, medicine, psychology, and genetics. All Norwegian research institutions working empirically with issues related to the human population are highly likely to use the infrastructure. The same applies to international researchers, who are certain to seek out this unique data resource, thereby putting Norwegian researchers in a strong position for participating in important and high impact international collaborations.
We also expect a major interest from citizens that are interested in their ancestors, local history, and different population groups. All citizens may also contribute by including information about their ancestors or other parts of the historic Norwegian population as a citizens science project. The information may be explaining family relations, links to thematic registers or information sources, a link to a biography at the internet site for local history or a biography written in the register itself.
The project will build HistReg: a complete infrastructure for historical registers. The major component is the Norwegian Historical Population Register (HPR) identifying and linking the persons living in Norway after 1801 across censuses, church books, emigrant lists and vital statistics up to and including the modern National Population Register starting in 1964. This is a continuation of the work from the first phase of the project, in part funded by the Infrastructure program in the period 2014-2021. The systems and technical solutions for building HPR efficiently are now largely in place, most of the transcription is performed, but we need to increase the linking ratio from the present 15% to 80%.
Norway is known for a wide range of high-quality register data, surveys, cohorts and biobanks. The true value of these usually rests on the ability to link different sources of data by using the unique person-IDs administered by the Central Population Register. A current weakness of Norwegian data is that researchers are limited to information on family ties often covering only two generations. HPR will extend this to seven generations, removing a main shortcoming of modern data.
We will also include a full national register of properties and residences from 1820 an historical extension of the modern Cadastre system (‘Matrikkelen’). As the modern system, it facilitates linkage of residences and properties across time, assigns geographic coordinates adding an important spatial dimension. It also keeps full track of the frequently changing administrative units, which in turn facilitates mergers, consistent over time, with various sources providing data at these administrative levels.
Finally, we will also expand thematic registers (e.g. health, education, income) backwards in time and make them linkable to all other registers within Histreg. The value of these registers increases when they can be linked together and with a core population and property register.