Norwegian farm names... should they be added to the Standardized lists?
Many Norwegians and Norwegian records include the farm name as an important factor in identifying people. Due to Norwegian naming practices, there are scads of Ole Olsens and Lars Larsens, etc. and the farm names are pretty crucial to determining which is which.
There are known lists of these farms. I'm seeing many records where the farms are being standardized to places far away from Norway by eager people trying to be helpful. For example, this list of hints is from an ancestor Guri, MNXK-JHM who lived on the Helling farm in Buskerud, near Ål, Norway:
The items all refer to the farm, but have been cross matched to Holland and Sweden and even China!
The farm names are being added. Slowly and gradually. There are so many it will take years to get them all in since someone working with the Places Authority team has to add them one by one. Some of the places you can see what has been done so far are in Hordaland. For example, Kvinnherad has had all its farms added: https://www.familysearch.org/research/places/?reqParents=551991&reqParentsLabel=Municipality&reqParentsType=201&includeIsParent=true&primaryText=Kvinnherad%2C%20Hordaland%2C%20Norway&searchTypeaheadInputText=Search%20Within%3AKvinnherad%2C%20Hordaland%2C%20Norway
However, I suspect that what you are seeing is not due to "eager people trying to be helpful," but rather due to a rather unfortunate major error when the recent "Norway Church Books" database was released.
As you may already know, this massive database of births, marriages and deaths was a joint project between the Norwegian National Archives, FamilySearch, My Heritage, and Ancestry. The original database appears to have been created after the requirements of the Norwegian Archives and matches their database format as found on the Digital Archives.
The error made occured because in many places such as birth records, the lowest level place, such as mother's residence in a birth record was recorded just as that place. For example If I search for an Anders born between 1800 and 1825 then filter the results by birth place I can see that 52 of the results give a birth place in Italy. The actual birth place for the first result is just the single place name: Forli.
The automatic routine FamilySearch used to apply a standard, because no municipality, county, or country is included, picked the very first place on the list if you enter Forli into the Places database, which happens to be in Italy:
The same error was made with the 1891 census but it is a bit easier to see because the census was "updated" to show the full place name. For example, if I search for any Ole born between 1800 and 1900 then take a look at the Residence filter, which I would expect to be in Norway for every single person since this is a Norwegian census, I see:
Picking one from Asia & Middle East, I find:
And looking at the indexed record I see:
The single term Røken, which I would guess in is Søndre Odalen, was "standardized" to Rowken.
I have reported this several times to various Family Search people. I did get an answer back that one of them contacted the group of partners who created this database (I assume some combined group from FamilySearch, Ancestry, and My Heritage) and she was told they are aware of the problem but will not be able to do anything with this at all until after the 1950 US census index is completed and released.
These are wonderful databases. It is really unfortunate that you cannot trust a single entry. Not only due to this standardization problem, but because the people doing the indexing often could not read the handwriting and the spelling can be horribly wrong. All we can do at this point is stress over and over again that an index is to help one find a record but that one must always, always, always, always go to the original record and see what it really says and never, never, never, never enter information into Family Tree from the index alone but always confirm and correct it from the actual source.
Teach this to every Norwegian researcher you know!
But back to your original question. If there is a set of farm names that are a high priority for you to be added, you can request these through the Places database: https://www.familysearch.org/research/places where you can request them one at a time or post a longer list in the Places group here: https://community.familysearch.org/en/group/68-familysearch-places2
Yes! Always include the farm name and always standardize the place.
You gave the example of Helling saying it was near Ål. Assuming you mean by that that it is near the village of Ål in Ål municipality and also lies in Ål municipality, I would enter it like this:
This is both correctly entered and correctly standardized.
I recently did a full presentation on Norwegian place names and Family Tree for a group of Norwegians. I created it first in English then translated it all for my presentation to them. You can view it in English here:
Let me know if you would rather watch it in Norwegian.
The 1950 census project will not slow down the entering of Norwegian farm names into the Places database, however priority is given to the particular places the people doing the work of entering them have an interest in and to patron requests. So, as I said above, if you have a set of farms you really would like to have added then go ahead and request them. They will go to the top of the list. Otherwise it will just be random chance when they appear.1
Thank you Gordon, that's a very thorough answer and much more than I expected so quickly! I have been amazed and delighted at how many old Norwegian records are available, especially since the Gothic handwriting can be very hard to decipher, even if you already know what it might say. I can understand that the current focus is on 1950, so I will cool my jets about wholesale farm name additions until things settle down a bit. (Not to mention all those sponsors of children being christened! There are so many choice fields available, the database designers and coders must be wary.)
I do worry that my habit of leaving a farm name unstandardized when I attach a record will cause my own credibility rating to suffer. I want to be a quality contributor, but not at the cost of losing important searchable details. Any suggestions?0
Wow, your English presentation was very helpful! I had no idea how the Places database worked, nor how thorough and comprehensive it will be when caught up to current (I get that it will never be 'complete'). I had noticed quite a few cases with time references in them, and liked that feature, especially after struggling with Viken replacing Buskerud as a default recently. Thank you for your patience and diligence supporting the community!