The National Archives celebrates 200 years

OSLO.The National Archives.Photo: Thomas Brun / NTB scanpix

The National Archives celebrates 200 years with open doors

The National Archives opens the doors to everyone and invites birthday celebration when the archive reaches 200 years.


With sausages and ice and dives into the archive’s halls, anyone can get an impression from the nation’s memory bank.

The actual word archive may seem dusty, dry and boring, but the fact is that the National Archives had 1.6 million unique users of its digital services last year.

That’s almost a third of the population, says an enthusiastic director Inga Bolstad before the anniversary.

Very many of the users are searching the databases over and over again. In particular, many are concerned with genealogy and searches in church books and censuses. Others are more concerned with the war archives, which are also very much sought in.

The letter from the Pope

The jubilee will be formally celebrated June 6th at Akershus Fortress with conference and dinner and with Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland (H) present. The public party with open doors to the archives at Kringsjå in Oslo takes place two days later, Thursday 8 June.

Akershus fortress had long been used to store important documents and diplomas, but after the Constitution was written, the young Norwegian Government introduced the so-called ‘Riksarkivet’ (Country Archive) in 1817.

– The oldest document in the archives comes from when the pope in Rome in 1189 wrote to the bishops of Norway that they should not go to war with weapons in hand.

2 per cent is digitalized

Bolstad describes the National Archives as part of the nation’s memory. The institution refers itself as a memorial to the Norwegian past. It is only with the Government archives and libraries that the state documents become the nations memory.

– Riksarkivet retains information stored in archives in a long-term perspective. Nobody knows what the data will be used for and who will use them. The National Archives shall ensure that the information is kept safe and secure. The National Archives must be here because society needs deep historical knowledge of its own historical development.

There are 260 kilometers of paper in the archives halls. Currently, only 2 per cent, about 58 million pages digitized, but the work continues unabated.

Social media

While the first boss for the National Archives was the poet Henrik Wergeland, today’s director Inga Bolstad has long experience from the tax office before joining in 2014. She is used to a forward-looking organization where the ability is high to use new technologies quickly. The need for this is no less in the archives.

– What is not taken care of by documents and which disappears is quickly forgotten, says Bolstad. She is concerned that a lot of communication is taking place on social media under the auspices of commercial companies, or by SMS. She fears that much of this information is lost for posterity. These are things that need to be addressed in the future, she maintains.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today