Some time ago, I wrote of my beginning attempts at Norwegian genealogical research, attempting to find Hans Christensen Loe, my great-grandfather's birth and baptism in Norway. This included a fruitless attempt in Salt Lake City at the Family History Library.
I was getting nowhere fast, until I discovered that the National Archives of Norway (Arkivverket) has a Digitalarkivet containing census and parish registers and that this vast digital set of primary sources is free to everyone. I also found a tutorial that helps you navigate the records. Marvelous!
I'd done some reading about Norwegian naming conventions and patronymics, but then I found this at the Digitalarkivet:
Norwegian habitational name from any of several farms named Lo, from Old Norse Ló, of uncertain etymology. (http://digitalarkivet.uib.no/sab/howto.html)
I decided to try to find Hans in the 1865 census first to get a better fix on his location. I went to the Norwegian Historical Data Centre (NHDC) at the University of Tromsø. And there my great-grandfather was at 11 years of age and living with his mother, Siri Eriksdatter, and three siblings. They lived on a farm called Loesmoen (Loe's meadow) near Øvre Eiker in Buskerud County.
With a lot of patient encouragement from the Roots Web Norway list, I made my way back to the parish records at the Digitalarkivet and finally found my great grandfather, Hans, and his parents in the 1854 baptism records. The farm's name was Loesmoen (Loe's meadow). Our last name comes from the name of the farm – one of those habitational names that I'd read about.
Is there anything more satisfying that figuring out primary source records in another language? I don't think so! And Norway may be the exception to the rule that it's easier to do overseas research in SLC than it is in the country in question.