Sweden Birth and Christening Records

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The earliest birth registers are not actually birth records, but instead, are christening records. According to the Lutheran belief, a new born child required a Christian christening as soon as possible after birth. The soul of an infant who died without receiving a Christian christening went directly to purgatory and the salvation of that child’s soul was placed in jeopardy. Christenings of babies took place in the first week of life and generally on the first or second day after birth. In the event that there was a complication with the birth and the child’s survival was in question, than an “emergency baptism” (nöddop) could be performed by the midwife, father, or any member of the household who had passed confirmation. If the child later strengthened, then a second christening was performed in the church with the minister officiating.

In a Swedish record of christening/birth, the researcher can expect to find
• The given name(s) of the child
• Before 1800, the name of the father; after 1800, also the name of the mother
• The date of the christening; after 1800, also the date of birth
• The name of the farm or village where the parents reside
• The names of the witnesses invited to attend the christening (often relatives of the father or mother)

When working with Swedish Church Records of Birth & Christening


• An interval between births of more than 4 years can indicate a missing child
• Babies were often home christened & later christened in church
• The woman holding the baby at christening is often a close relative or friend of the mother
• An illegitimate child is indicated with the word, “oäkta”
• Ministers can make mistakes. User logic and reasoning when you come across inconsistencies in a record