Finding a Place of Origin in Sweden

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Descendants of Swedish ancestors often begin their climb up the family tree with the question, “I know my ancestor came from Sweden…where where do I go from here?” Church records (kyrkoböcker) are the primary source for names, dates, and places of birth, marriage, and death in Scandinavia. Nearly everyone who lived in Sweden was recorded in a church record. Tracing one's ancestors in Sweden, therefore, depends on finding the name of the parish where they lived or were born.

Records of births, marriages, and deaths are commonly called vital records because they document critical events in a person’s life. Church records are vital records made by church ministers. Often called parish registers or church books, church records include information on births, christenings, marriages, deaths, and clerical surveys. They may also include account books, confirmations, and records of people moving in and out of a parish. Since civil authorities did not begin registering their separate vital statistics until 1950, church records are the main source of family information before this date. Sweden has no nationwide index to vital records. Records of births, marriages and deaths were all kept locally. For most researchers, then, the answer to “Where do I go from here?” is to find the parish in Sweden where the ancestor was born or lived.

Strategies for finding the place (parish) of origin for a Swedish ancestor

1. Search all available family records for clues as to the name of the parish where an ancestor was born or lived in Sweden.

2. Other sources in the U.S. can provide important clues to the home parish of immigrant ancestors.

3. Determine year of emigration (this can be found in U.S. Census returns beginning in 1900). See United States Census

4. Search Swedish Emigration Databases and Indexes: “Emigranten Populär 2006” and “Emibas 2008”. Also consult emigrant passenger lists.

5. Search Swedish census records from 1860—1910.

6. Search Parish Register Indexes, Swedish Passport Journals and Swedish County Emigration Indexes.

7. Utilize the resources of Emigration Archives in Sweden

8. If your Swedish immigrants were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), see artical Sweden: L.D.S. Church Record Sources for further guidance.

Further Reading

Johansson, Carl-Erik. Cradled in Sweden. Logan: Everton, 2002

Clemmensson, Per & Andersson, Kjell. Your Swedish Roots.Provo: Ancestry, 2004

Olsson, Nils William. Tracing Your Swedish Ancestry . New York, Swedish Information Services, 1985

Norman, Hans & Runblom, Harald. Amerika - emigrationen. Uddevalla, Bohusläningens AB, 1980

Clemmensson, Per & Andersson, Kjell. Emigrantforska!. Falköping, Gummessons Tryckeri AB, 1996

Sveriges Släktforskarförbund. Migration: Utvandrare och invandrare i gångna tider. Stockholm, Norstedts Tryckeri, 1992

Sveriges Radio & Ljungmark, Lars. Den stora utvandringen: Svensk emigration till USA 1840 - 1925. Stockholm, AB R. W. Statlander, 1965

Svenska Emigrantinstitut. Transatlantiska Rötter. Växsjö, TryckPartner AB, 1997