Connecting with Your Swedish Ancestry

November 12, 2018  - by 

What comes to your mind when you think of Sweden? Is it ABBA, the Swedish pop group that gained worldwide fame in the 70s? Or is it Sweden’s breathtaking, frigid landscapes with spectacular views of the northern lights? If you are Swedish or have Swedish ancestors, you may think of the patronymic surnames in your family tree, something that is common both in Sweden and in other Scandinavian countries.

If you have Swedish heritage, you’re not alone—over 14 million people worldwide are Swedish or have Swedish ancestry. FamilySearch’s online Swedish records collections can help you connect with your ancestors. Whether you’re trying to learn more about the lives of your family members or find new branches of your family tree, there is so much you can discover.

Swedish Family History

Learn how to start researching your Swedish ancestry on FamilySearch.

Swedish family history and genealogy

Swedish Surnames

Discover the significance behind Swedish surnames in your family tree.

Common Swedish surnames and their meanings

Swedish Church Records

Learn how to use Swedish parishes that date back as far as 1686.

Swedish church records for genealogy

Traditional Swedish Foods

Connect with your Swedish ancestors by trying these Swedish dishes.

Swedish foods and recipes

Historical Insights from Sweden’s Records

A timeline of Swedish history in relation to Swedish records.

FamilySearch’s freely accessible archives make it easy for anyone to search for Swedish ancestors. FamilySearch has over 60 million Swedish records and images available online that have millions of searchable names. More records and images are being added as they become available through indexing.

Looking through Sweden’s records can provide you unique insights on the history of Sweden and what life may have looked like for your ancestors. For example, Sweden did not fully adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1753. Before then, Sweden used their own calendar (which was most similar to the Julian calendar, the calendar most used by the Romans). This calendar shift affects how genealogists interpret dates from Swedish records created before and after the 1750s.

Other historical events such as the establishment of the Lutheran church and the unification (and later dissolution) of Norway and Sweden also affected Sweden’s records. Many of the most valuable genealogical records from Sweden were created by the Lutheran church.

Sweden Emigration

Sweden’s records can give you a look at the trends of emigration (people leaving the country) and immigration (people entering the country). A significant portion of Sweden’s population left between 1850 and 1930, with emigration during the period coming to a high point in 1887. Those who left accounted for nearly one-fifth of Sweden’s total population. They traveled to countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

In recent years, Sweden has seen another surge of emigrations and immigrations. Emigration in 2011 broke the record made in 1887; over 51,000 Swedes left the country. Those emigrating from Sweden in recent years have mostly gone to neighboring countries such as Norway and Denmark. In 2016, immigration rates to Sweden also peaked.

a timeline of the great Swedish Emigration.

Did your family emigrate from Sweden? You can return to Sweden and explore your heritage, learning more about your ancestors and about yourself along the way. Check out our Sweden travel guide for some tips.

25 Life-Changing Things to Do in Sweden to Discover Your Heritage

Mother holds child in Sweden

Many people worldwide have strong Swedish heritage. Are you curious about your own Swedish ancestry?

Use the FamilySearch fan chart to discover what countries your ancestors were born in. If you’re just starting to build your family tree, search for your ancestor’s names in millions of records for free on

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  1. Very interesting reading!
    I have a grandfathers whims two brothers went over to the states in 1910-1920. I will start my search for ancestors in the states very soon!
    It will be fun! Know that a lot of my family name exist in the states!!

  2. I appreciate Family Search so much. I have a tree here and got stuck tracing part of my tree. They were so helpful to get me past it and to continue my search

  3. My great grandfather was born in Sweden in 1877. He ended up in South Dakota by 1922, when my grandfather was born. Got info on his family, but no info on my Great Grandfather. From what I understand is many people changed their name at entry, so I cannot seem to connect the dots of my great grandfathers family lineage in Sweden. How can I find that? I have used family search for a long time now and tried all spellings etc. Its a tough one. I don’t know where he entered, but I have data of him once he got here.

  4. some people got their names changed because the clerk didn’t understand the language & so they wrote down what it sounded like to them. very few actually changed their name s when entering the country. they may have changed when certain events occurred; such as WW 1, which caused a lot of Germans to make their names more anglicized .