Birth record reading example with some abbreviations

Prior to the mid 1800’s, the birth books were not standardized and the format varies by minister and time. When looking at a birth book, it is always good to review the minister’s style and determine the format of the content.

Today we will look at a birth record from 1837 in the parish of Älvsbacka (Elvsbacka) parish in Värmland county. In the record below, you will see that the content of the birth record is divided into six boxes. In this record, the minister has recorded the birth date, baptismal date, child’s residence, names of parents, names of witnesses and residence, name of minister who baptized child, age of mother and child’s name.

alvsbacka birthÄlvsbacka (S) C:3 (1827-1860) Image 22 (AID: v9055.b22, NAD: SE/VA/13662) Link.

  • Box 1 – Birth and baptismal month – Juni (June)
  • Box 2 – Birth day 14 (June 14, 1837)
  • Box 3 – Baptismal day 15 (June 15, 1837)
  • Box 4 – Child’s residence in parish, name of parents, names and residence of baptismal witnesses and the name of minister who baptized the child
  • Box 5 – Age of mother – 36
  • Box 6 – Child’s name – Stina Maria

Box 4 Transcription:

Örtnåstorp, H. e. Henrik Andersson o. d. h. Cajsa Magnusdotters barn.
Faddrar:  H. e. Anders Henriksson o. d. h. Ingrid Andersdotter i Örtnås.
D. a. Comm Frykholm.

While most of the words in the birth record are names of persons or places and dates, there are some Swedish words. Also, in this record, the minister has used some abbreviations. Below in text order are the Swedish words and abbreviations.

  • H. e. – hemman ägare – farm owner
  • o – och – and
  • d – dess – his
  • hhustru – wife
  • barn – child
  • Faddrar – witnesses
  • i – at
  • dopt – baptized
  • a – af – by
  • Comm – Komminister – assistant pastor, curate

Complete English translation of Box 4:

Örtnåstorp, Farm owner – Henrik Andersson and his wife. Cajsa Magnusdotters child.
Witnesses- Farm owner Anders Henriksson and his wife Ingrid Andersdotter at Örtnås.
Baptized by Pastor Frykholm.

Sometimes the minister would use full words in one entry and then abbreviate the same words in another entry. If you were to look at another birth entry in the previous year, you will see that the minister has spelled out the phrase baptized by (dopt af) as seen in the image below. By looking at that record, then one can decipher the meaning for the abbreviation “D. a”.

full spelling doptÄlvsbacka (S) C:3 (1827-1860) Image 21 (AID: v9055.b21, NAD: SE/VA/13662) Link.

Click here to see a 1700’s birth record example.

Click here to see an 1800’s birth record example.

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Swedish American Church Book Record Types

ArkivDigital’s online library includes many Swedish American church books from Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska and a few from Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Below are the types of records that you will find in the various congregations However, the type of records that were kept and preserved varies by congregation.

  1. Congregation records or church registers (Församlingsböcker)
  2. Birth and christening records (Födelse- och dopböcker)
  3. Marriage records (Vigselböcker)
  4. Death and burial records (Död- och begravningsböcker)
  5. Catechetical records (Konfirmationsbok)
  6. Protocols (Protokoll)
  7. Accountings (Räkenskaper)
  8. Member reception records (Intagna medlemmar)
  9. Member dismissal records (Utträdda medlemmar)
  10. Anniversary documents (Jubileumsskrift)

Congregation Books (Församlingsböcker)
The congregation records or church registers include similar information to the Swedish household or congregation records. The type of information you may find includes:  the names of the household members, birth date, birth place, baptismal date, marriage dates of the head of the household, arrival date in America and arrival date in the congregation. Some of these books have alphabetical name indexes. These records are very helpful in identifying where a person came from in Sweden.

Omaha Congregation RecordCongregation book from Omaha Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Nebraska, USA (NE) Vol:1 (1868-1890) Image 74 / page 69 (AID: v883292.b74.s69, NAD: ) Link.

Birth and Christening Records (Födelse- och dopböcker)
The birth and christening records are somewhat similar to the Swedish birth and christening records. The contents do vary by congregation but they usually contain the child’s name, birth date, baptismal date, names of parents and names of baptismal witnesses.  Most of the time the mother’s married name and not maiden name is presented. These records are organized in chronological order often by baptismal date. Occasionally, there is a cross reference to the family in the church register or congregation record.

omaha birthsRecords of baptisms from Omaha Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Nebraska, USA (NE) Vol:4 (1894-1916) Image 21 / page 35 (AID: v883294.b21.s35, NAD: ) Link.

Marriage Records (Vigselböcker)
The marriage records are an important source because it is the one source where the female’s maiden name is shown. The contents in the marriage record usually include the names of the groom and bride, date of the marriage and the places where the bride and groom are from. These records are organized in chronological order.

omaha marriageRecords of Marriages from Omaha Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Nebraska, USA (NE) Vol:4 (1894-1916) Image 59 / page 173 (AID: v883294.b59.s173, NAD: ) Link.

Death and Burial Records (Död- och begravningsböcker)
The death and burial records sometimes called “Records of Funerals” show the deceased’s name, death date, burial date, age, sometimes names of nearest relatives and cause of death. Unfortunately, abbreviations may be used in names such as “P. A. Swanson” versus the complete name and married women are often noted as “Mrs. Charles Eklund”.  These are organized in chronological order usually by the funeral date. Occasionally, there is a cross reference to the family in the church register or congregation record.

omaha burialsRecords of Funerals from Omaha Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Nebraska, USA (NE) Vol:4 (1894-1916) Image 98 / page 291 (AID: v883294.b98.s291, NAD: ) Link.

Catechetical (Konfirmationsbok)
The catechetical records provide names of the persons confirmed. Most of the time, these are only list of names but occasionally, the birth date and the names of the parents of the confirmed will be shown.

Protocols (Protokoll)
The protocols are administrative records for the parish. They contain minutes of administrative meetings and decisions relating to parish matters.

Accountings (Räkenskaper)
The account books will include records of financial transactions such as cash books, bookkeeping records and real estate transactions.

Member reception records (Intagna medlemmar)
These records record new members of the parish usually stating the name of the person, date of admission and the place where the person came from.

Member dismissal records (Utträdda medlemmar)
These records record the names of members who leave the parish. Usually, you will find the name of the person, departure date and where the person is going to.

omaha dismissalRecords of Dismissals of Members from Omaha Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Nebraska, USA (NE) Vol:4 (1894-1916) Image 85 / page 247 (AID: v883294.b85.s247, NAD: ) Link.

Church anniversary document (Jubileumsskrift)
In many congregation archives you will find a church anniversary document celebrating a number of years in existence such as 25 years, 50 years, 75 years or 100 years. These documents usually present a short history of the church or a church organization such as a singing group or other group within the church. Sometimes in addition to the history of the church, biographical information and photos of members of the church are included.

Other documents (Övriga handlingar)
You may find other documents dependent upon the parish such as church school records, tomb or cemetery records, historical notes, church constitution, and attachments to migration records, newspaper clippings and other types of documents.

More information about Swedish American church books:
Searching for a parish of origin in the Kansas church books.

ArkivDigital

Birth Record Reading Example

frossa birth recordForssa (D) C:1 (1682-1798) Image 59 / page 95 (AID: v55123.b59.s95, NAD: SE/ULA/10279) (Link)

Today, we will present a lesson in reading a birth record in the 1700’s. The above record is a birth record from 1762 in Forssa parish in Södermanland county. For many experienced researchers, this may appear to be clear and easy to read but for many new researchers this record may seem intimidating.

When looking at the birth records and the same can be said for marriage and death records one needs to become familiar with the minister’s format style for the record. In this case the minister has chosen the following format:

  1. Birth month
  2. Birth day
  3. Baptismal day
  4. Names of parents
  5. Name of the place of residence in the parish (e.g. farm, village, estate)
  6. Child’s Name
  7. Names of baptismal witnesses
  8. Entry number

In this case the child was born on the 12th of July 1762 and baptized on the 18th of July 1762. We know the year is 1762 because that is noted on the top of the page.

The minister has written the names of the parents: Per Andersson, h. Carin Persdotter. The abbreviation “h” is short for hustru or wife.

The place in the parish where the family lives is Stavsjöstugan. If you have difficulty in transcribing the place of residence, check to see if there is household book for that period and look in the place name index for a place that looks similar.

You will need the place name in the birth book to find the family in the household book. Below is the place name index for the corresponding household book You can see in the index at the bottom of the page that the household records for Stavsjöstugan begin on page 61. You will go to page 61 and then begin to look for the family.

The child’s name is Carin.

The names of the baptismal witnesses as written: Per Bengtsson i Spånga, dr. Carl Ericsson i Stavsjöstugan, hust. Maria Lars dtr i Spånga, pig. Cherstin Pers dtr ibidem.

The following abbreviations were used in recording the names of the witnesses:

  • i – in, at
  • dräng - farmhand
  • hust. –  abbreviation for hustru or wife
  • pig. – abbreviation for piga or maid
  • dtr – Often you will see “dtr” as an abbreviation for dotter or daughter in the name. The full names in this case are Maria Larsdotter and Cherstin Persdotter.
  • ibidem – Latin term meaning the same

The entry number 10 states that this was the 10th birth entry for the year.

You can see that one really doesn’t need to know Swedish to read the record. The record is primarily a table of names, dates and places. Yes, there are a few Swedish words but these words are used repeatedly in the church books so one just needs to become familiar with a few Swedish words to become comfortable reading the records.

ort name indexForssa (D) AI:2 (1757-1766) Image 5 (AID: v55102.b5, NAD: SE/ULA/10279) (Link)

Click here for more birth record reading examples.

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Christmas 1814 – Birth Record Reading Example

All of us at ArkivDigital wish you much success in your genealogy research and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

In this blog, you will find a record reading example for a birth record on Christmas Day 200 years ago. It is for a female child, Märta, born on Christmas Day in Arvika landsförsamling in Värmland county in 1814.

Christmasimage

Arvika landsförsamling CI:7 (1809-1827) Image 49 / page 87 (AID: v4798.b49.s87, NAD: SE/VA/13011) Link

The format of this birth record is divided into five columns. The first column gives the birth date, December 25th and the second column the baptismal date, December 26th.

The text section gives the residence, names of the child’s parents and the names of the baptismal witnesses.

Transcription of Main Text
W. Sund: Par: Drängen Brynte Persson och pigan Anna Hindriksdotter, Testes – Per Bengtsson och Nils Andersson samt Hustrurna Karin Persdotter och Maria Andersdotter från V. Sund.

Translation of Main Text
Västra Sund: Parents: Farmhand Brynte Persson and maid Anna Hindriksdotter, Witnesses – Per Bengtsson and Nils Andersson along with wives Karin Persdotter and Maria Andersdotter from Västra Sund.

The next column states the age range for the mother and in this case the mother’s age is between 25 and 30 years.

The last column on the right gives the child’s name, Märta. The letters, “o:ä” are an abbreviation for oäkta or illegitimate child. Note, in this record the name of the father is given whereas in most cases during this time period the father’s name is not shown in the birth record for an illegitimate child.

Additional Tips
Notice that the residence, Västra Sund, is abbreviated as W. Sund for the child’s birth residence and V. Sund for the witnesses’ residence. The letters and V and W were often interchanged. Often a place name that begins with Västra (West) will be abbreviated with a W or V as shown in the above record. 

It is important to note the place name where the child’s family lived because you will need that to locate the family in the corresponding household examination book. In this case, you will find the mother and child at the following reference near the bottom of the page: Arvika landsförsamling AI:8 (1811-1816) Image 119 / page 113 (AID: v9544.b119.s113, NAD: SE/VA/13011).  Link

You will often find Latin words in Swedish church books especially in the earlier years. In this birth record, there are two Latin terms:

  1. Par. – an abbreviation for the Latin word, parentes or parents in English
  2. Testes – witnesses

See more birth record examples.

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