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—1900.

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 Sweden: L.D.S. Church Record Sources.

Scandinavian Mission Index

For those with Latter-day Saint Swedish ancestry, you may wish to be aware of an index at the Family History Library on microfiche cards. The Scandinavian Mission Index is found on the series of fiche numbered FHL Intl# 6060482, microfiches' 1-344. If your Swedish ancestor joined the LDS Church in Sweden and later emigrated to America (Utah) in the second half of the nineteenth century, there is likely a listing for him/her in this index. Persons are first listed alphabetically by surname and then arranged chronologically by birth year, or the year of an event such as baptism, or emigration. For females, you may wish to look under both the masculine and feminine spellings of the surname "Andersson/Andersdotter). An ancestor using a surname with multiple spellings may be listed under any one of those possible spellings. For example, "Johansson" may be listed under a variety of spellings such as: Johnsson, Jansson, Jönsson, etc. You may want to look under each variant spelling to find the person you desire. On these fiche cards you will likely find for you ancestor, a birth date and place, the date of emigration, a reference to the Swedish LDS branch the ancestor belonged to and the FHL call number to the microfilm of that branch’s membership records. These Swedish membership records are found in the microfiche collection on the B1 International floor of the Family History Library.

A listing which gives the first and last name found on each fiche is in Volumes I & II of "Passport to Paradise..." a series listing some of the Scandinavian Latter-day Saints who emigrated from the port of Copenhagen Denmark between 1872 and 1894.  (FHL 973 W3A) 


Nils William Olsson wrote a highly useful booklet entitled: Tracing Your Swedish Ancestry. This 40 page booklet can be ordered from the Consulate General in New York.