Swedish American Church documents provide genealogical information


hanepictureWe have written previously about the Swedish American church books in ArkivDigital. (See previous blog entry). Besides the church books, there are anniversary documents for many congregations and these publications often contain historical information about the congregation’s founding as well as genealogical information about some of the early church members. This information can help one jump the pond and trace the family in the Swedish church books. For many North Americans, one source for finding out where their ancestor came from in Sweden is often a Swedish American church book.

One interesting document is the one produced for the Centennial Anniversary of the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bucklin, Missouri in 1970. Here you will find historical information for several families. One example is for Andrew Fredrick Hane’s family.

The text below states that he was born on “June 23, 1828 in Ostergutland, Sweden” and that he immigrated to American in 1880 with his wife Maria, born on “October 15, 1840, Grosmark, Varmland, Sweden” with four children. At the top of the page, you will find an image of Andrew, Maria and a child.

Bucklin Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Missouri, USA Vol:1 (1870-1970) Image 13 / page 13 (AID: v811754.b13.s13) Link.

We can find information about the family in the Swedish church books by using Maria as our starting point. The text provides information about Maria’s birth date, birth parish and immigration year. When one looks at the American records, often there is an Americanization of Swedish person and place names. In this case Grosmark, Varmland refers to Gräsmark, Värmland. As well, the county of Östergotland was spelled Ostergutland.

To search for Maria in the Swedish church books, we will begin by looking for her birth record.

  • Go to the search window.
  • Select the county archive and select Värmland.
  • Select the parish, Gräsmark.
  • Look for the birth volume that contains the year 1840.
  • Search for a birth record for Maria on October 15, 1840.
  • You will find record at the following reference: Gräsmark CI:5 (1838-1859) Image 18 / page 29 (AID: v6598.b18.s29, NAD: SE/VA/13165) (Link).

By tracing Maria in the church books forward, you will find that she marries Anders Fredrik Hane and they have several children and in 1880 the family immigrates to North American from Skedevi, Östergotland. You can see the notation about the move to North America in the household record shown below.

hane moving out recordSkedevi AI:25 (1880-1887) Image 128 / page 118 (AID: v29036.b128.s118, NAD: SE/VALA/00332) Link.


Publication of the Swedish American church records now complete

kansas church recordFalun Lutheran Church, Kansas, USA Vol:1 (1887-1913) Image 38 / page 16 (AID: v812504.b38.s16) Link.

During the last few months, we have been adding more Swedish American congregation records from Kansas to ArkivDigital’s online library. We have now completed the addition of this material which we photographed in Kansas last summer and fall. Previously, we  posted several blogs about this collection and you can read more about these records here.

Our Swedish American church collection includes about 75,000 images and over 1,000 volumes from approximately 90 congregations. Most of the material consists of records from congregations in Kansas but we do have a few in Missouri and also for one congregation in Oklahoma. Our hope is that one can discover more about Swedish immigrants’ descendants which should be a great benefit to both our Swedish and American customers.

Many of the Swedish American congregation church books are very similar to the Swedish church books. The image at the top of this page is from a “Church Register” for the Falun Lutheran Church in Falun, Kansas. The content of the record is similar to that of a Swedish household or congregation book. In this record, you see information about a Karl Fredrik Holmgren and his family. The record shows Karl’s birth date as the 9th of November 1845 in Falun.

You can use this information to find Karl’s birth record in the Swedish church books. Below is an image of his birth record from the Falu Kristine parish birth book.

carl fredriks birth recordFalu Kristine CI:12 (1828-1861) Image 148 / page 286 (AID: v129846.b148.s286, NAD: SE/ULA/11441) Link.

Read blog entry in Swedish.


Modern church books from Värmland are now available

varmland 1945Eda C:15 (1930-1945) Image 1040 / page 96 (AID: v169605.b1040.s96, NAD: SE/VA/13091) Link.

In our blog posting on January 22 (read previous blog), we announced  the good news  that the Swedish National Archives has changed a previous decision which prohibited ArkivDigital from photographing some church books after 1935. Now we have the opportunity to photograph the modern church books up to the time of the law of privacy limits (currently 1945).

As soon as we received this wonderful news, we quickly began photographing the newer church books including congregation records, moving in/out registers, birth, marriage and death books. We are happy to announce that we have added all the church books up to the law of privacy limitations for Värmland county. In addition, we have added newer church records in other counties.

We will post in the blog when additional counties are complete. For more information about the contents in our digital library, click here.

Read blog entry in Swedish.


ArkivDigital Tip – “Show image in separate window”

Many researchers like to view two images or records at the same time so that they can compare the information. Within ArkivDigital, there is a nice feature that allows one to show an image in a separate window so that one can view two records simultaneously.

In the image below, we see the birth record for Jan Hindrik born on July 26, 1812 in Älvsbacka parish in Värmland county. His parents are Hindrik Vieveg and Sara Brita Kohler. The family is living at the place, Plåthammaren, in the parish. The baptismal witnesses are: Gottlieb Vieveg, Brita Jonsdotter, Jan Vieveg and Anna Lena Elg.

If we wish to compare this birth record with a household record, we can do this by showing the birth record in a separate window.

ADTip5 Älvsbacka C:2 (1788-1829) Image 92 / page 171 (AID: v9054.b92.s171, NAD: SE/VA/13662)  Link.

To open the image in a separate window, do the following:

  • Right click with your mouse on the image tab.
  • A shortcut menu will open.
  • Select: Show in separate window.

The image below shows the separate window that opens when you select “Show in  separate window”.


We can now open the household record showing the family group and view both records to compare the information as shown in the image below.

ADtip3Älvsbacka AI:5 (1811-1816) Image 12 / page 6 (AID: v9031.b12.s6, NAD: SE/VA/13662) Link.


Swedish Parish Records in London

Ulrika Eleonora Congregation in London, England, was established in 1710 and is one of the earliest Swedish international parishes. The church books for Ulrika Eleonora are available in ArkivDigital’s online library.

The types of records available include: household records beginning in the year 1834, birth and baptismal records beginning in 1724, marriage records beginning in 1730 and death records beginning in 1724.  Plus, many other types of records are available.

londonUlrika Eleonora församling (London) FI:1 (1798-1895) Image 240 (AID: v787772.b240, NAD: AD/LONDON/0001) Link.

Above is an image of the death record for a seaman, Niklas Westerberg, in 1817. If you browse through the death books, you will notice many records for seamen.  Below is a transcription and translation of the death notice.

“Niklas Westerberg, Sjöman, född i Visby på Gotland dog af feber på London-Hospital den 20 Aug. samt begrofs på Hospitalet begrafningsgrund. Han var omkring 36 år gammal, samt gift här i landet.

Nilkas Westerberg, a seaman, born in Visby in Gotland county died from a fever at the London Hospital on the 20th of August and was buried in the Hospital’s burial ground. He was approximately 36 years old and was married in this country.

You can search for these parish records by entering “Ulrika Eleonora” in the search box in ArkivDigital.

Do you have an ancestor who moved to London or was a seaman?  Look in these records and you may make some exciting discoveries.


New times ahead for ArkivDigital – Report from Annual Shareholder’s Meeting

ArkivDigital annual shareholders meeting“Headed toward new times” is the title of Archives Digital’s annual report for 2014.  And ArkivDigital’s Chief Executive Officer, Mikael Karlsson, focused on the new as he presented the forthcoming new product features at the Annual Shareholder’s meeting on May 19th in Lyrestad, Sweden.

A new software program replacing the current “ArkivDigital online” will be launched at Genealogy Days (Släktforskardagarna) in August.   The new program is built using modern technology with a user interface created in the same manner as a web page and displayed with a specially built web browser. A new function will be automatic software upgrades allowing improved versions to be released often without causing user inconveniences.

Another new feature that will be introduced is the capability to manage registers. At Genealogy Days, a searchable name register for Sweden’s entire population for 1950 will be released. Later, a name searchable register for 1960 will be released. The sources for these registers are the tax/population registers (mantal) for 1951 and 1961.  Within a year, there will be a searchable name register for all the household/congregation books for the years 1880-1920 (about).

According to Mikael Karlsson, “These new features will be powerful help tools for all researchers”.

The new program software is a rebuilding of the product. Many new functions are planned for the future such as: better help texts, powerful search possibilities and flexible payment methods, to take a few examples.

Concerning economic development during 2014, there were no unwelcome surprises. Net sales increased by 16 percent to nearly 20 million kronor. The number of subscribers increased 13 percent to nearly 25,000 and the image database grew so that it now includes more than 100 million pages of historical source material. The year’s results were 141,770 kroner (678,511 kroner 2013). The relatively modest profit is explained by the large investments the company is making, among others, personnel costs increased nearly 3 million kronor between 2013 and 2014.

The entire board was reelected which includes Jan Aronson (Chairman), Paul Johansson and Håkan Skogsjö. Folke Brished was appointed as a substitute board member.

You can read the article in Swedish here.


Image –  ArkivDigital’s board meeting in Lyrestad. In the foreground, Jan Aronson, company chairman, and  back of him to the left, Niklas Hertzman (secretary at the board meeting) and Magnus Lindskog (chairman at the board meeting).

Birth record search and reading example

At many conferences in North America, many will stop by our booth and state that they have Swedish ancestry but are intimidated by the Swedish records because they are in Swedish. We explain that the church books are mostly tables of names, dates and places with headings and terms that are used repeatedly. Once one becomes familiar with the commonly used words, one finds it can be easy to work with the records even though one does not speak Swedish.

Today, we will search for a birth record and show that most of the record contains names, dates and place names. In order to search for a birth record, one needs the child’s Swedish name, birth parish and the birth date. Our search will be for the birth record of Elin Andersdotter born on the 13th of July, 1841 in the parish of Västra Torsås in Kronoberg county.

To begin the search, go to ArkivDigital and click on Search Archive. There are several methods for searching:

  • One method is to just enter Västra Torsås in the search box and click search. You will need to type in the Swedish characters.
  • Since we know the county, you can select advanced options and select county and then Kronoberg. You will now see a list of all the archives for Kronoberg county. Scroll down until you find Västra Torsås and then highlight the entry.
  • On the right side, you will see a volume list for Västra Torsås as shown in the image below.

search window

  • Search for the birth and christening records book that includes the year 1841.
  • Select the birth and christenings volume:  Västra Torsås C:5 (1815-1848).
  • Double click to open the book.
  • Search for a table of contents in the beginning of the book. Many volumes include multiple types of records.
  • In this volume, you will find a table of contents (Innehåll) (see image below).

birth contentsVästra Torsås C:5 (1815-1848) Image 3 (AID: v29905.b3, NAD: SE/VALA/00453) Link.

The table of contents shows the following entries:

  • Födelse- och dopbok 1815-1843 or birth and baptism book
  • ”              ”       ”             1844-1848
  • Lysnings- och vigselbok 1815-1848 or banns and marriage book
  • Död-och begravningsbok 1815-1848 or death and burial book

On the far right side, you will see the page numbers for each record type. Since we are looking for a birth record in 1841, we see that the birth records between 1815 and 1843 begin on page 5 and end on page 430. We now need to look for the birth records for the year 1841. One can estimate a page number and go directly to a page and then page forward or backwards until you find the records for 1841. Once you find the year 1841, then you search for the birth date, July 13th.  You will find Elin’s birth record on page 407.

elin birth recordVästra Torsås C:5 (1815-1848) Image 207 / page 407 (AID: v29905.b207.s407, NAD: SE/VALA/00453) Link.

The content and format of the birth records do vary by time and minister.  The format for this book is the following:

  • Column 1 – Child’s name
  • Column 2 – Birth date
  • Column 3 – Baptismal date
  • Column 4 – Parents’ names and residence followed by the names of the baptismal witnesses
  • Column 5 – Mother’s age

Record Transcription
Elin   13 14  Föräld. B. Anders Nilsson H. Ingrid Magnisdotter i Långasten   44
                      Vittnen Nils Petersson, Bengt Abrahamsson i Sjöby  H. Nil
                      la Nilsdotter i Källhult Pig. Maria Simonsdtr. i Sjöby

Record Translation
The child, Elin, was born on July 13, 1841 and baptized on July 14, 1841. Her parents were farmer Anders Nilsson and his wife Ingrid Magnisdotter residing at Långasten. The baptismal witnesses were Nils Petersson, Bengt Abrahamsson at Sjöby, wife Nilla Nilsdotter at Källhult and maid Maria Simonsdotter at Sjöby. Elin’s mother age is 44 years old.

As you can see this record contains primarily dates, names and place names. The only Swedish words in this birth record are:

B.              abbreviation for bonde or farmer
Föräld.     abbreviation for föräldrar or parents
H.              abbreviation for hustru or wife
i                 at, by
Pig.           abbreviation for piga or maid
Vittnen    witnesses

You can find more birth record examples on our website by clicking here.

In a future blog, we will show you how to locate Elin with her family in the household examination book for the year 1841.


Catechism Records (katekismilängder)

Catechism records (katekismilängder) have been preserved for Malmöhus, Kristianstad, Blekinge, Kronoberg and Jönköping counties and for some parishes in Halland, Östergötland and Kalmar counties. Unfortunately these do not have a wide coverage but if they do exist; they can be a valuable resource.

Often these catechism records were prepared upon the request of the bishop. After the priest compiled the information, he sent the written documents to the bishop. These records are not found in the church archives but among the visitation documents in the cathedral archive. Therefore, one finds these documents in the respective (Domkapitels Arkiv) or dioceses central administrative organization archive in ArkivDigital.

  1. Go to ArkivDigital’s search window
  2. Click on advanced options
  3. Select archive type: dioceses central administrative organization

For Lund’s diocese (Malmöhus, Kristianstad and Blekinge counties), these records have been divided up and are included in the volume list for the respective parish with the notation Kat:1.

The main purpose of the catechism records was to record one’s religious understanding but one also sees where one lived such as the farm name and in many cases one’s age. Sometimes one can even find out if the person could read and write. These books are not preserved for all years but one can find some from the end of the 1600’s and some in the 1700’s.CatechismDomkapitlet i Växjö FII:12 (1691-1694) Image 294 / page 573 (AID: v41168.b294.s573, NAD: SE/VALA/00507)  Link.

In the above record, we see that the following persons lived in Kulltorp parish in Jönköping county at Hagagården in Lanna by:

Roottmestare Per Larsson, 61 years
Wife (hustrun) Anna, 47 years
Son  Lars Persson, 23 years
Daughter Anna, 20 years
Lodger female wife (Inhyses quinnan hustru) Ingeborgh, 84 years

This article was originally published in Swedish on April 11, 2014. Read original article in Swedish.


Swedish Parish Records in Paris now on ArkivDigital

sofia in paris
Svenska Sofiaförsamlingen i Paris AV:1 (0-9999) Image 40 (AID: v793349.b40, NAD: AD/PARIS/0001)

Sweden’s oldest international parish, Svenska Sofiaförsamlingen, is in Paris, France. The Swedish church presence in Paris dates back to 1626, when Professor Jonas Hambraeus at the Paris Academy began to gather Swedish and German Lutherans for worship services. The parish services were both in Swedish and German. On Sunday, worship services were usually held first in Swedish and then in German. Knowing this, it is easy to understand why the oldest books in the church’s archive are written in German as the above image out of one of the books from the 1600’s shows.

The Swedish parish in Paris existed from the end of the 1600’s to 1806 as an embassy church. The parish did not have a permanent location for services and moved around between the diplomatic envoys’ different residences. At the time of Napoleon Bonaparte’s crowning in 1806, the parish minister received an order to leave the country. For the years up to 1806, there are three volumes available on ArkivDigital: 2 parish registers (församlingsregister) volumes AV: 1-2 (written in German) and a marriage book for the years, 1764-1806. A large portion of the marriage book is written in French.

In the autumn of 1858, the embassy preacher Thor Frithiof Grafström was sent to Paris. At the time, there was the Union between Sweden and Norway and Grafström’s commission was to establish a Swedish-Norwegian parish. The volume, Svenska Sofiaförsamlingen i Paris AI:1, includes various types of documents from the Swedish-Norwegian parish in Paris during the years 1859-1863.

During the period 1863-1877, there was no Swedish priest in Paris. Since 1877 when Emil Flygare became the minister in Paris, the Swedish church presence in Paris has continued without interruption. The parish received its current name in 1878 when the first church, Sofiakapellet, was consecrated and named after the Swedish queen, Sofia of Nassau. The current Swedish parish church, Sofiakyrkan, was consecrated in 1913.

Most of the volumes for the Sofia parish in Paris are after 1877. These volumes include household examination/congregation books, migration records, birth, marriage and death books along with many other types of documents.

Read the original article published in Swedish.