Abbreviations in the Swedish Church Books

The Swedish church books are wonderful records. Most of the time, one can follow one’s ancestor from birth to emigration or death in the church books using a combination of the vital records (birth, marriage and death), household/congregation books and sometimes the moving records.

At conferences and presentations, we receive many questions about researching in the church books and some will ask about abbreviations they have encountered in their research. One common question is what do the abbreviations “GB” and “NB” mean?

  • GB is the abbreviation for gamla bok or old book.
  • NB is the abbreviation for nya bok or new book.

Often in the household books/congregation books in the latter nineteenth century and twentieth century you will see these abbreviations in the moving in and moving out columns. In the record shown below, you see the abbreviation “GB 124” in the moving in column (Hitflyttad) and the abbreviation “NB 166” in the moving out column (Bortflyttad) for Anders Johansson and his family who are living at Torpet Stubben in Barkeryd parish in Jönköping county. This record is in the household book for Barkeryd parish for the years 1891-1899.

GB and NB exampleBarkeryd (F) AI:25 (1891-1899) Image 226 / page 212 (AID: v18935.b226.s212, NAD: SE/VALA/00025) (Link)

In this case, the abbreviation “GB 124” is stating that we can find the family in the previous household book on page 124 or in the household book Barkeryd (F) AI:24(1885-1890) on page 124 as shown in the image below.

previous GB exampleBarkeryd (F) AI:24 (1885-1890) Image 136 / page 124 (AID: v18934.b136.s124, NAD: SE/VALA/00025) (Link)

The abbreviation “NB 166” is stating that we can find the family in the subsequent household book on page 166 or in the book Barkeryd (F) AIIa:1 (1900-1905) on page 166 as shown in the image below.

second NB exampleBarkeryd (F) AIIa:1 (1900-1905) Image 176 / page 166 (AID: v168900.b176.s166, NAD: SE/VALA/00025) (Link)

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Records over Non-Existing Persons

missing persons

At many conferences in North America, the question often comes up, “What are the records for non-existing persons?”  Volumes titled “records over non-existing persons” appear in the volume list for many parish archives on ArkivDigital’s English interface as shown in the above image.

The “records over non-existing persons” volume or “obefintlighetsbok” is a list of the persons within the parish whose whereabouts are unknown or in other words missing. Whenever a person moved out of the parish, they were supposed to advise the parish minister that they were leaving and where they were moving to. The minister gave the individual a moving out certificate showing information about his birth, last residence, character and religious standing and the minister recorded the information in the household examination book and moving out book. If the individual moved to another parish within Sweden, he or she would give the certificate to the new minister and that minister would record it in the moving in book and the household examination record. This is the reason why in most cases it is easy to trace a person whereabouts in the Swedish books.

However, there were many cases where the person left the parish without telling the minister. Before the 1880’s the ministers had much freedom as to how they would enter information in the household examination books about persons who disappeared. Some would just cross out the name while others would move the person to a “obefintlighet” page in the household examination book or the “obefintlighetsbok”.

In 1894, there was a requirement that the missing should be listing in a special category, “obefintlighet” or whereabouts not known.  Often you will find persons who emigrated without securing the necessary moving out papers in these lists.

You can read this article as well as other Swedish genealogy tutorials on our website in the section titled, Swedish Genealogy.

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Household record search and reading example

In a previous blog, we searched for the birth record of Elin Andersdotter who was born on the 13th of July 1841 in Västra Torsås parish in Kronoberg county.  In the birth record, we discovered her parents were Anders Nilsson and Ingrid Magnisdotter and that they resided at a place in the parish named Långasten.

Today, we will search for the family in the household records. Each pastor was required to take a yearly accounting of all members in his parish and test them for their religious understanding. In order to do this accounting, the minister made lists of all the people living in the parish, household by household. These records were kept in large books and each volume covers a series of years.  The number of years vary by parish and time. Many of these books begin in the late 1700’s but they do exist earlier for some parishes. By using the household records and congregation books, one can often trace a person from birth to death or birth to emigration.

search for household record

To search for the household records for 1841:

  • Return to the archive for Västra Torsås as shown in the above image.
  • Search for a household records volume that includes 1841.
  • Highlight the book Västra Torsås AI:6 1840-1847.
  • Double click and open the book.
  • Look for a place name index (ortsregister). This is usually in the front of the book but sometimes is in the back. Not all household records books have an index. In those cases you will need to page through the book to locate the place.

place name indexVästra Torsås AI:6 (1840-1847) Image 8 (AID: v21256.b8, NAD: SE/VALA/00453) Link.

  • Search for the Elin’s residence, Långasten, in the place name index and you see that the records for this place begin on page 396 and 401 as shown in the above image.
  • Go to page 396 and begin your search for the family.

household imageVästra Torsås AI:6 (1840-1847) Image 409 / page 396 (AID: v21256.b409.s396, NAD: SE/VALA/00453) Link.

You will find the family on page 396. In the first column on the top line is the place name, No. 69 Långasten. The first column shows the family member names living in the household during the period the book covers.

The major column headings on this household record are:

  • Födelse  –  Birth
  • Flyttningar – Moving (Moves in and out)
  • Läser  –   Read
  • Nattvardsgång -  Communion
  • Husförhör – Household examination
  • Omständigheter – Special circumstances or special remarks

Under the birth (födelse) column you will see the sub-columns, dag, år and ort which respectively mean day, year and place. In these columns, you will find the birth dates and birth places for each member of the household. In this case you notice that only the birth year is shown for the father while complete birth dates are shown for the rest of the family.

Below is a list of all the household members’ names and birth dates:

Name                                      Birth Date
B. M. Anders Nilssson           1798  (B. is an abbreviation for bonde or famer; M. – husband)
H. Ingjerd Magnisdotter      13 April 1797 (H. is an abbreviation for hustru or wife)
o ä D. Stina Johansdotter     11 March 1820 (Ingjerd’s illegitimate daughter)
o ä S. Magus Olsson               28 April 1845 (Stina’s illegitimate son)
S. Nils Andersson                     7 November 1827 (S. is the abbreviation for son)
D. Ingrid                                  28 January 1830 (D. is the abbreviation for daughter)
D. Catherina                            24 December 1838
D. Elin                                       13 July 1841

Usually, you will find the name of the parish in the birth place column. Sometimes, it will be a village name or sometimes the county name or a country. But in most cases, it is the parish name. In this case there is no entry and that usually but not always means the birth was recorded in the same parish as the household record so in this case, Västra Torsås. We do know that is true for Elin’s birth record. To search for the birth records for other members in the family, we should first look for their birth records in Västra Torsås.

The moving in and moving out columns (flyttningar) are very important columns. The columns indicate if the person has moved into or out of this place during the period the household records book covers or in this case 1840-1847.  The moving in columns include the year (år) and from location (ifrån) and the moving to columns are year (år) and to place (till).

You will notice that there is an entry in the moving to column for Stina Johansdotter and her son Magnus Olsson. It states that they moved to a place that is shown on page 373 in the same book in 1848. Also, you will note their names are crossed out. A cross out indicates a person has moved or died.  In order to find them at their new residence, go to page 373 in the same book. You will find them at the following reference in ArkivDigital:  Västra Torsås AI:6 (1840-1847) Image 386 / page 373 (AID: v21256.b386.s373, NAD: SE/VALA/00453) Link.

There are no entries in the moving in or moving out columns for the other members of the household. Since there are no notations of a move, we can assume that they lived in the same place, No. 69 Långasten, in the previous household records book and in the subsequent one.  We can trace the family both backwards and forward by looking for the place, Långasten, in the place name index in the previous and subsequent household records books and look for the family in the same manner as we did in this book.

The last column, Omständigheter or special circumstances, can offer some additional information about your ancestor. In this case, you will see the following noted for Stina Johansdotter:

Transcription
Lysn. d. 6/5 48  med Torp. Jöns Svensson

Translation
Banns of marriage date 6 of May 1848 for marriage with Torpare (Crofter) Jöns Svensson

Click here for more information about household records plus a record example in the Swedish genealogy section of our website.

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Swedish Church Book Tutorials

Swedish GenealogyThe Swedish church books are usually the first Swedish records that one uses when tracing one’s Swedish roots. These records are a “gold mine” because they are so complete and contain such detailed information. In many cases, one can trace a person’s life in the church books from birth to death or birth to emigration.

We often hear from many people who have Swedish ancestry but don’t speak Swedish, that they are intimidated by the Swedish church books because they are in Swedish. But there is no need to be. The church books consist primarily of tables of names, places and dates. Yes, there are Swedish words but these words are used repeatedly. Once one becomes familiar with the commonly used words, researching in the church books becomes relatively easy.

On our website, you will find a section titled, Swedish Genealogy. In this section, you will find record examples and translations for birth, marriage, death, household examination and moving records and much more.

Introduction to Swedish Church Books
Birth Record Examples
Marriage Record Examples
Death Record Examples
Household Examination Record Examples
Moving in and Moving out Records

Death record example

Image above: 1700s death record example. Go to page.

Kathy Meade, ArkivDigital USA