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 Ancestry Video Helps
RootsTech Connect 2021 included a plethora of content about Swedish ancestry and genealogy. Check out one of these videos for detailed how-to content from genealogy professionals.
Historical Insights from Sweden’s 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’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.
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.
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 FamilySearch.org.