Herdaminne – Personal History of Ministers

There are many types of records within ArkivDigital. One interesting set of records is the herdaminne. The herdaminne is a personal history of clergy who served in the Swedish church since the middle ages. In most cases, you can find a very detailed biography, including the person’s full name, date of birth, place of birth, family members, status, and other biographical notations. Sometimes, you will even find photographs. If you have an ancestor who was a member of the Swedish clergy, these records can be a valuable tool for researching your ancestor.

The herdaminnen are published books that were mostly published between the late 1800’s and present date for all the dioceses within Sweden. In order to find a herdaminne for a particular member of the clergy, you need to know the name of the parish he served in and the name of the diocese (stift) that the parish belonged to. There were some changes in the organizational structure so one needs to verify the diocese the parish belonged to for the designated time period.

Within ArkivDigital, you will find herdaminnen for the following dioceses: four in Sweden and one in Finland.

  • Göteborg
  • Skara
  • Uppsala
  • Växjö
  • Åbo (Finland)

You can find these by selecting archive search and then selecting archive type, printed literature. Select country, Sweden, for the herdaminnen in Sweden and select the country, Finland, for the one in Finland.

Below is an example of a biographical sketch plus a photo for the minister, Peter Magnus Bergström, who was born in Algutsboden on the 14th of January 1811.

herdaminnenVäxjö stifts herdaminne (F, G, H) 3 (1929) Image 810 / Page 151 (AID: v903640.b810.s151)

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Swedish Portraits (Svenska Porträttgalleri)

ArkivDigital’s online library includes many types of records such as the church books, estate inventories, court records, tax registers and military records. But there are many additional types of records within ArkivDigital including scanned books. One interesting set is the Svenskt Porträttgalleri.

The Svenskt Porträttgalleri includes 26 volumes of portraits and biographical data for over 20,000 persons who represented key segments of Swedish life including clergy, military officers, academics, doctors, publishers, financiers, and others. The series includes a general register or an index which lists all the individuals in alphabetical order and points to the volume that shows the photograph and biography. You can find these volumes in ArkivDigital by going to archive search and selecting archive type, printed litterature.

As an example, we will look for Gustaf Unonius, who was the founder of St. Ansgarius Church established in 1849 in Chicago, Illinois. This was the first Scandinavian church in Chicago. To find the biographical data for Gustav Unonius in the Svenskt Porträttgalleri, do the following:

  • Access ArkivDigital (app.arkivdigital.se).
  • Select archive search.
  • Select archive type – printed litterature.
  • Select the archive – Svenskt Porträttgalleri.
  • Open the general register volume. The names are listed in alphabetical order.
  • Below is the register entry.

unonius registerSvenskt porträttgalleri (o) Generalregister (1913) Image 3900 / Page 765 (AID: v903628.b3900.s765)

The information in the register is an abbreviated biographical sketch along with pointing out where we can find his portrait and a more detailed biography in Volume 15 (XV). The information shown in the register is the following:

Unonius, Gustaf Elias Marius was born in Helsingfors (Helsinki, Finland) on the 25th of August 1810. He was a pastor at an Anglo-American church, a customs collector in Grisslehamn and died in Hacksta parish in Uppsala county on the 14th of October 1902.

The next step is to go to Volume XV. You will see that Volume XV and XVI are in the same volume in ArkivDigital. The names are listed in alphabetical order for each volume. Browse through the book to search for Gustaf Unonius. Below is his photograph and a more detailed biographical sketch.

gustaf unonius full biographySvenskt porträttgalleri (o) XV-XVI (1897-1900) Image 990 / Page 181 (AID: v903622.b990.s181)

In the above record, you will find a few more details about Gustaf Elias Marius Unonius’s life. Additional information in this record includes that he studied in Uppsala, emigrated to America in 1841, studied at an Anglo-American seminary in Wisconsin in 1843, ordained to the priesthood in 1845, was a pastor at the Swedish-Norwegian parish, St. Ansgarius in Chicago in 1849 and still a priest in the Anglo-American church and returned to Sweden in 1858. In 1860, for his work with the Swedish immigrants in America he was given a reward of 3,000 riksdaler. He worked as a customs official in Grisslehamn from 1863 to 1888. The last portion of the sketch list some of his publications and probably the best known being Minnen fr. en Sjuttonåring vistelse in nordvestra Amerika or Memoir for a Seventeen-Year Stay i Northwest America. This work has been translated into English with the title of A Pioneer in Northwest America 1841-1858, The Memoirs of Gustaf Unonius.

The Svenskt Porträttgalleri is a wonderful source for finding photographs and some biographical information about persons active in Swedish society.

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