Sweden History

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Effective family research requires some understanding of the historical events that may have affected your family and the records about them. Learning about wars, governments, laws, and migrations may help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns. These events may have led to the creation of records, such as land and military documents, that mention your family.



Your ancestors will become more interesting as you to learn about the events in which they may have participated. Below are some key dates and events in Swedish history:

  • 1397 The Union of Kalmar united Sweden with Denmark and Norway.
  • 1477 The University of Uppsala was founded.
  • 1523 The Union of Kalmar dissolved, and Gustaf Vasa was elected King of Sweden.
  • 1527 The Lutheran Church becomes the state religion of Sweden.
  • 1638 “New Sweden” was founded in Delaware.
  • 1666 The University of Lund was founded.
  • 1753 Sweden changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar.
  • 1809 Sweden lost Finland to Russia.
  • 1814 Norway united with Sweden.
  • 1905 Norway dissolved the union with Sweden.
  • 1914 World War I started. Sweden was neutral.
  • 1919 Voting rights were given to women.
  • 1939 World War II began. Again Sweden was neutral.

Additional Resources

The Family History Library has some published histories of Sweden, such as:
Den Svenska historien (Swedish History). Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1966. 10 vols. (FHL Scand book 948.5 H2dh.)
Scott, Franklin D. Sweden, The Nation's History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977. (FHL book 948.5 H2sc.)

Local Histories

Local histories should be studied and enjoyed for the background information they can provide about your family's life-style and environment. Published histories of parishes, towns, and counties often contain genealogies and family histories.

An important association founded in 1916 to preserve traditional culture is:

Riksförbundet för Hembygdsvård (The National Association for the Preservation of Local Nature and Culture)
Box 30193
S-104 25 Stockholm

Local societies publish their own histories, including stories of emigration and genealogical research done.

The Family History Library has many local histories for Swedish towns. They are listed in the catalog under the above headings. Some of these histories are also available at major public and university libraries in the midwestern United States.

Calendar Changes

The Gregorian calendar, the calendar in common use today, corrected the Julian calendar that had been in use since A. D. 46. Leap years had been miscalculated in the Julian calendar, and by 1582 the calendar was ten days behind the solar year.

Sweden changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar on 17 February 1753. At that time, eleven days were omitted to bring the calendar into line with the solar year. The day after 17 February 1753 became 1 March 1753.

Sweden Timelines