HPR – The Norwegian Historical Population Register

HPR – The Norwegian Historical Population Register

HPR is a register of the Norwegian population and all resident places. HPR consists of an open register at http://histreg.no, focusing on diseased persons and a closed database until the Central Population Register from 1964.  We expect the open database will have a good coverage back to 1800 and also contain some data back to the 17th century. It include all censuses before 1920 and all transcribed parish registers.  This is the world’s second national HPR, and unlike in Icelandic register, it will be open to research in all relevant disciplines in addition to public use for data that is not sensitive.

HPR has received funding from NA, the Research Council of Norway and UiTs Mohn-fund. There will also be a portfolio of different applications with a variety of focuses and directed to different funding bodies.

Main principles, open part

The HPR includes all censuses and parish registers avaliable in http://digitalarkivet.no. The challenge is to connect people and places from different sources. This is accomplished partly automatically and partly manually. We invite everybody to contribute to the linking. Each contributor will be identified by an email account. The main principles of the HPR are as follows:

  1. The HPR is based on as many sources of good quality as possible. There are two-way links, i.e. from the database to the sources and vice versa to insure uniqueness and quality control.
  2. We have the greatest possible openness and transparency. This makes it possible to see who has made changes and the reasons for doing so.
  3. We encourage the greatest possible use, and as many contributions as possible to the development of good quality. All users will be given the opportunity to comment on the quality of the database.
  4. We will establish a group of super users that will follow up the contributions of other users and ensure quality control.

These principles secure uniqueness and complete references to sources. It will ensure a high amount of good quality data and ensure that the quality increases over time. The HPR will function as an index or register to the sources instead of replacing them.

NR’s contribution

NR is responsible for designing the open database and developing the software for the open part of HPR. NR is also working with image recognition of the hand written text from the sources in order to increase the speed of transcription.   

Benefit for the society

The HPR project will be used in health research, social sciences, economics, history, geography, Nordic languages and information science.  We expect that all universities and health-regions in Norway, many university collages and research institutes will use HPR in their research. It may also be used in patient treatment in connection with genetic diseases. All storing of sensitive information and medical use of HPR will be evaluated by ethical committees.

Genealogy is one of the most popular uses of internet.  We expect that the database will be used by a large number of local historians and genealogists that will contribute to the link of records via the Internet. Record linkage rates from 80- to 90 % are realistic.

There are also a large number of other potential applications of HPR as tourism and in connection to local history and museums.


Gunnar Thorvaldsen: Fra folketellinger og kirkebøker til norsk befolkningsregister. Heimen 2008 p. 341-359

Lars Holden , Gunnar Thorvaldsen  og Torkel Rønold Bråthen. Historisk befolkningsregister og DNF 1814, Heimen (ISSN 0017-9841). (49) s 399-414. 2012.

Research areas

Project period



The Research Council of Norway

National Archive

Mohn-fund at University of Tromsø



the National Archive

Statistics Norway

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health

University of Tromsø

Norsk Regnesentral.

University of Oslo

Institute of local history

Association of computer genealogy