King Harald of Norway has always been interested in history. The King of Norway was present at the celebration of the National Association for Local History’s 100th anniversary on Friday afternoon.
Local history is very popular in Norway, and more than 70,000 people are affiliated with one or more local history associations in Norway. Initially, the anniversary was supposed to be marked last year, but the celebration had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
The Mayor of Oslo, Marianne Borgen, hosted local historians, and she welcomed King Harald to the reception in Oslo City Hall. The National Association for Local History’s leader, Gunnar Hojem, gave a speech at the start of the reception before the general secretary, Tor A. B. Martinsen, informed everyone about the organisation’s activities and the local history work that takes place every day in more than 400 associations in Norway. King Harald had the opportunity to hear more about the local history work in conversation with four of those who were present at the reception.
The participants emphasised that the archives were full of local history. Ever since the 17th century, land registers have been kept, Norwegians have customs lists, church books and lots of other public and private archives that in total could give a broad picture of Norway’s local history. In the early 20th century, the great work of making village books began, in which farm and family history have a prominent place.
The establishment of local and regional history associations began before the turn of the last century. Bergen’s historical association from 1894 and Trondhjem’s historical association from 1897 are among the oldest. The establishment of associations was relatively even throughout the first half of the 20th century but gained momentum in the 1970s. One of the theories about the great interest in this topic is that the public debates around the municipal mergers in the 1960s and the EU referendum in 1973 put the districts on the map and led to a more significant commitment to local history.
The National Association for Local History, founded on 6 July 1920, is the leading organisation for the promotion of Norwegian local history and is Norway’s most prominent cultural protection movement.