Sweden Medieval Collections at the Swedish National Archives

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12th-Century Sone Church, in Lidkoping, Västergötland, Sweden.

The Medieval Collections include parchment/velum and paper documents (approximately 18,500) along with copy books, estate and other document lists, land records and account books. (Languages: Latin, Old Swedish, and Low German). Most of these documents were gathered by the crown at the time of the reformation during the 1500’s. A large number of documents from the Middle Ages have since been collected by the National Archive. Of special note is a large installment of medieval records belonging to the The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Vitterhetsakademien: VHAA).

Original Documents.[edit | edit source]

A large parchment/vellum document collection (Stora pergamentsbrevsamlingen) ranging until 1520 includes approximately 14,000 documents in chronological order. A comparable paper document collection (pappersbrevsamling) with 2,000+ documents is divided into two series:
• RAppr I includes originals and drafts.
• RAppr II includes transcripts, translations, etc.

Undated documents (odaterade brev) comprise their own collection and are numbered.

VHAA:s Vitterhetsakademien’s documents are included in the main collections while certain other collections are maintained separately. These include, for example, the Sture Archive (Sturearkivet) from the late middle ages and other documents from the Danish National Archives (1929, 1947) and the Foreign Parchment Documents (Utlänska pergamentsbrev) including many documents from the Baltic area.

In addition, collections have been preserved of parchment and paper documents from private archives (managed by the National Archive’s department for Private Archives (byrå för Enskilda arkiv); even though a portion of these collections are named for castles such as Engsö and Vik they are not medieval estate archives (gårdsarkiv) but have often been obtained by gift and purchase in more recent times.

The A-Series includes over 20 so called indexes and other copy books (kopieböcker) from the middle Ages and contains texts with both ecclesiastical and secular origins.

The B-Series contains over 30 post-medieval copy books and transcriptions including Lars Eriksson Sparres’ copy books from about 1640, with copies of a large number of documents that were later lost.

The C- and D-series contain land records, account books and other writings relating to both church and noble property and income.

In addition, there are separate medieval manuscripts and original records in Kammararkivet, Skoklostersamlingen and other private archives. The so-called pergamentsomslagen i Kammararkivet are parchment pages from a variety of medieval records which are used as archive book folders in the 1500 and 1600’s.

Copy Collections[edit | edit source]

The National Archives has a large collection of copies. Of special note within the Antiquities Department (antikvitetsverket) are the 17th and 18th century series of hand written copies of medieval documents.
• Hadorphs
• Örnhielms
• Peringskiölds with other collections of historic document

There are also a large number of modern copies (besides photographed, Photostat, Xerox-copies and microfilm) of documents found both in the National Archives and other repositories, including those in other countries. The Vatican Records (Vatikankopior) are important. Known as the Bååthska Collection (Bååthska samlingen) named for one of the Scandinavian archivists who for many years during the Middle Ages searched the Vatican archival records (all in Latin) in search of material concerning the church during the middle ages and communications with the papacy during the Catholic period.

The Swedish Diplomatarium (Svenskt Diplomatarium) completely incorporated in the National Archive since 1976, also includes a collection of copied documents which supplements the original such as those dealing with German Trade Union cities’ (hasestädernas) archives.

The originals are very fragile. As a result, one always looks first to the photo copies of the Diplomatarium (or so called fotostatdiplomatariet) for copies of parchment or paper records in the large chronological series up to 1520. These bound volumes are found in large format in the research office. Copies of the National Archives’ various codicils including all C- and D- manuscripts are found there in addition to many of the most important Swedish collections from the Middle Ages not found in the National Archives. Other copies of records both loose and bound are available in the archive store and can be ordered.

Catalogs[edit | edit source]

For the time period prior to 1420, refer to the two volumes of the Swedish Diplomatarium (Svenskt Diplomatarium) (which covers up to June, 1369, the years 1371 to June, 1374 and 1401—1420) and for missing years refer to Svenska Riksarkivets Pergamentsbref (RPB/SRP) 1351 – 1400 I-III (1866-72) and Svenska Riksarkivets pappershandlingar (MRA 1887), the latter being less useful. There is a modern card catalog for these documents.

For the time period after 1420 there is a hand written card catalog for the National Archive’s parchment documents and a modern card catalog for the paper documents which is supplemented by the older card catalog. (All the old cases with catalog cards in the research office have the heading Regesta diplomatica medii aevi; copies of the cards are also available in red folders.

The Swedish Medieval Register (Svenska medeltidsregister), edited by Tunberg with others (1937) covers the period 1434-1441 and extends beyond the National Archives’ collections. Charters for medieval towns in Sweden may (with the exception of those found in Privilegieverket (part 1, N. Herlitz: 1927), be found in the Institute of Town History catalog (Stadshistoriska institutets catalog) in the National Archive. There are card catalogs of The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Vitterhetsakademien: VHAA) parchment and paper documents for both periods. There is also a card catalog covering the undated records in the number series. A wide variety of other records is found in other medieval collections in the National Archives. Transcripts of Sture Archive records (Sturearkivets brev) are available in the research office. There is a card catalog for the “Medieval collection of photo copies” (“Medeltidssektionens samlingar av fotostatkopior”) series 1-3. The Vatican records on the other hand are for the most part uncataloged. The National Archives’ various medieval collections are cataloged separately. A more cohesive overview of records from the middle ages that concern Sweden from year to year is found in the Diplomatarium curator’s chronological card file (kronologiska huvudkartotek). It is not limited to the National Archives’ collection of originals and copies.

As with the rest of the diplomatarium collections– without being complete – it includes also many post-medieval transcriptions and documents within and beyond the National Archive. The card catalog is being digitized which will further facilitate research possibilities.

Within the diplomatarium are also transcriptions and reports including private documents, manuscripts and transcript collections. The editorial and curation office for diplomatarium and the Medieval Latin (used in Sweden) dictionary “Glossarium” is located at the National Archive facility at Fyrvebacken 23. Please telephone before visiting (08-737 6318, -6319, -6322 or -6324.)

Literature[edit | edit source]

Medieval collections are discussed and instructions given in the National Archive Collection Survey part 1:1. (Riksarkivets beståndsöversikt (BÖ). The is updated regularly with information regarding newly added content. Refer to the supplement to Riksarkivets beståndsöversikt (tillägg till BÖ) found in the first of two thick medieval collection binders.

Refer to the “Guidelines for Using Medieval Catalogs and Copies” (“Anvisningar rörande Medeltidssamlingarnas förteckningar och kopior”) found in the same binder. This indicates where the various card catalogs and indexes are to be found in the research office along with the location of actual documents. All are organized in the same order as found in the BÖ.
It is recommended that researchers in medieval records always take advantage of theNational Archive Collection Survey (Riksarkivets beståndsöversikt (BÖ) with addenda and directions found in Binder 1. Study of original documents from pre-reformation times requires special permission.

National Archive
Research Services Department
June 2005