Swedish Research: Searching Records

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Back to Sweden

Learn about the types of records used for Swedish research. Several factors can affect your choice of which records to search. Factors such as: record contents, availability, ease of use, time period covered, and reliability of the records, as well as the likelihood that your ancestor will be listed in them must be considered.

To do effective research you should:

  • Begin by obtaining some background information.
  • Look for any research that may have been previously done on the individual or family of interest.
  • Search original records.

Remember to search from the known to the unknown, building evidence as you go. Let’s look at each of these steps more closely.

1- Obtaining Background Information

You may need some geographical and historical information. This can save you time and effort by helping you focus your research in the correct place and time period.

  • Locate the town or place of residence.

Examine maps, gazetteers, postal guides, and other place-finding aids to learn as much as you can about each of the places where your ancestors lived. Identify the major migration routes, nearby cities, county boundaries, other geographical features, and government or ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Place-finding aids are described in the "Gazetteers," "History," and "Maps," sections through the Sweden: Portal of the FamilySearch Wiki.

  • Review local history.

It will help to understand Sweden's history. If possible, study a history of the areas where your ancestors lived. Look for clues about the people, places, and events that may have affected their lives and the records about them. Records with information about migration routes, nearby cities, county boundaries, governmental jurisdictions, and local historical events may be described in periodicals from the area.

  • Learn about Swedish jurisdictions.

You will need to know how Sweden was divided into counties (historically) and how each county is divided into parishes and other jurisdictions.

  • Use language helps.

The records and histories of Swedish places will usually be written in Swedish. You do not need to know the entire Swedish language to search the records, but you will need to learn some key words and phrases. Some helpful sources are described in the "Language and Languages" section through the Sweden: Portal of the FamilySearch Wiki.

  • Understand naming patterns.

The naming patterns of Sweden were influenced by factors such as: where you ancestor lived (in the city or a rural area), the time period, the social standing and the occupation. Be very careful to make conclusions of relationship. Understanding the naming customs can help you locate missing ancestors, and prevent the mistake of choosing an incorrect ancestor or family.

  • Understand local customs.

Local customs may have affected the way individuals were recorded in the records. Illegitimacy, marital customs, and local conditions are discussed in the "Social Life and Customs" section of the Sweden: Portal on the FamilySearch Wiki.

2- Look for any research that someone else may have done

Most genealogists evaluate the research previously done by others. This can save time and give you valuable information. You may want to look in:

Remember that the information in these sources might be wrong, depending on who did the research. Therefore, you need to analyze and verify the information you find from these secondary sources.

3- Search Original Records

After surveying previous records you will be ready to begin original research. Original research is the process of searching through original records (often copied on microfilm, or available online), which are usually handwritten in the native language. The documents can provide primary information about your family because they were generally recorded near the time of an event by a reliable witness. To do thorough research, you should search each place where your ancestor lived, during the time period he or she lived there. You need to search all the jurisdictions that kept records which might mention your ancestor (town, parish, province, and nation). You will be most successful with Swedish research if you can examine the original records online or in microform. In some cases, transcripts of the original records are available. Although these may be easier to read, they may be less accurate than the original record.

As you search original records for your Swedish ancestors, most of your time will be spend searching:

      - Household Examination  Records
      - Birth and Christening Records
      - Engagement and Marriage Records      

      - Death and Burial Records

      - Moving Records

Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy - Swedish Research Track, January 23-27, 2012

If you would like more indepth study of Swedish Research, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy is hosting a course in Swedish Research, January 23-27, 2012, hosted by Geoffrey Morris.  Here's Morris' description of the course: 

First, may I congratulate any reader who has Swedish ancestry! Your research activities to discover your Swedish family can be a rich and fulfilling journey. The biggest factor in accomplishing this is your determination to overcome research barriers. There is no lack of records. Unlike many other countries where good thorough records were not kept, or preserved, the Swedish records are some of the most thorough and complete in the world. This is due to a number of factors such as:

•a reasonably small population compared to many countries
•an incredible amount of records kept by religious and civil authorities
•national stability
•a huge amount of records that have survived the hazards of time

So what are the major barriers? As I have been helping people at the Nordic Reference Counter at the Family History Library, I have noticed that the biggest barriers seem to be:

1. Figuring out what record to go to next

2. To read and understand text

The Swedish Research Course will begin by focusing on reading and understanding Swedish text (especially for records before about 1820.) We will focus on learning handwriting styles, correctly identifying letters, combining letters into words, putting words into sentences and getting the actual meaning.

The remainder of the course will be focused on exploring records and research strategies. Speaking of records, did you know there are roughly 3,000 parishes in Sweden? Each parish has a collection of records that were created for a variety of reasons (including many record types that were never microfilmed.) Now if you gathered all the parish records from every parish in Sweden and made an enormous pile of books, the pile would only represent about six percent of the all records in the national and regional archives. As the digitization of records continues to progress, a much wider variety of records are becoming available than ever before.  All of the class topics in the Swedish track will have a record and strategy focus that is not limited to the FamilySearch collection.

Finally, we will offer consultation activities at the Family History Library where your instructors will schedule a time to assist with research guidance.

In summary, our hope is to offer a Swedish Research course that will discuss topics that are rarely (if ever) offered at any other genealogical conference outside of Sweden. All of your instructors are fluent in Swedish and will be using Swedish sources to build their class material.  Although this is a great opportunity for intermediate to advanced researchers to improve their Swedish research skills, beginners are very welcome.

You may register for the course at the Utah Genealogical Association link here:  http://www.infouga.org/aem.php?lv=r&eid=6