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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Memory Album (Minnesalbum) from Frederic Trade Lake Baptist Church in Wisconsin

Today, in ArkivDigital we have Swedish American church records for the following states:

  • Iowa – 60 congregations
  • Kansas – 98 congregations
  • Minnesota – 106 congregations
  • Missouri – 7 congregations
  • Nebraska – 119 congregations
  • Oklahoma – 1 congregation
  • South Dakota 1 congregation
  • Wisconsin – 12 congregations

In many of these archives along with church records such as membership, birth, marriage, death, reception and dismissal records, you will often find anniversary booklets and historical notes that present a history of the congregation, ministers and early settlers. In browsing these books, one will find many items of historical and also genealogical interest. In the archives for the Frederic Trade Lake Baptist Church in Burnett County, Wisconsin, you will find a minnesalbum or a memory album.

This congregation was established on the 5th of June 1869 in Knut Anderson’s schoolhouse. Below is an image listing the names of the early congregants and where they came from in Sweden.

frederic trade blogFrederic Trade Lake Baptist Church, Wisconsin, USA (WI) Vol:25 Image 58 (AID: v904644.b58) (left side of the image)

Below is an image of John Ring, the first pastor of the church, and his wife.

john ringFrederic Trade Lake Baptist Church, Wisconsin, USA (WI) Vol:25 Image 58 (AID: v904644.b58) (right side of the image)

John Ring or Jonas Ring was born in Delsbo, Gävleborg, Sweden on the 16th of February 1829. (Note – the record in the album states that he is from Ilsbo but he was actually born in Delsbo but did live part of his life in Ilsbo.)  He and his wife and children emigrated from Sundsvall, Västernorrland. Below is the household record showing them moving to America along with a notation that he and his wife are Baptists.

ring household recordSundsvalls Gustav Adolf (Y) AI:6b (1851-1866) Image 179 / Page 468 (AID: v122499.b179.s468, NAD: SE/HLA/1010190)

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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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