The archives from Oslo Hospital on the UNESCO list


The register for UNESCO’s Memory of the World has now received a new addition, namely the archives from Oslo Hospital for the period 1644-2000.

Oslo Hospital was Norway’s oldest psychiatric hospital. Herman Wedel Major and Johann Scharffenberg were both head practitioners there. Both have made important recordings in the archives.

The father of modern psychiatry in Norway was Herman Wedel Major. His very detailed and conscientious patient records from 1850 are in the archives.

We can also find the correspondence of the distinguished social debater, Johann Scharffenberg. This contains among other subjects his thoughts on sterilization of the insane.

We can also find protocols on the use of coercion and of straightjackets and much, much more.

Interesting for genealogists too

The hospital operated in the first century both as a hospital and a hostel. From 1778 there was also a “dollhus”. This is an old Norwegian term for an institution for the insane. The place is still in operation today.

The archives of the hospital have carefully recorded not only the names of the inmates in the dollhus, but also the names of tenant farmers, pawnbrokers, the individuals who bought their own chair in the churches and the ones that were buried in the cemetery.

Special Consultant at the Oslo City Archive, Kirsti Gulowsen, said in a comment “This means a lot to us. The private archive at Oslo Hospital has been in a basement from the 1600s, and it was not a matter of course that this was going to be preserved.”