Getting Started in the Swedish Church Books

Are you new to Swedish research? Swedish research is extremely rewarding because there are so many types of records and they are very complete. But before you begin, you must know your Swedish ancestor’s Swedish name, place or parish of origin in Sweden and a significant date such as a birth date. If all you know is that your Swedish ancestor’s name is Charles Johnson, you have a little more work to do before you jump the pond. For information on how to search for more details about your Swedish ancestor, click here.

But, let us say you are now successful and have discovered that your ancestor’s Swedish name was Carl Johan Johansson and he was born in Habo parish in Skaraborg county on the 10th of February 1819, you are ready to jump the pond and research in the Swedish records. Today, we will walk you through the steps for searching for Carl’s birth record and the corresponding household record in ArkivDigital.

We enter the application: app.arkivdigital.se and then select New Archive search. Since we know the name of the parish, we can enter, Habo, in the search box and the archive box for Habo will appear.

search habo

Click on Habo and you will see a list of all the volumes that are available for this parish. In this case, there are 122 volumes. Search for a birth book that includes the year 1819.

search habo birth book

You will see that there are two birth books that contain births for the year 1819:  C:10 Birth and Christening records 1801-1820 and C:11 Birth and Christening records 1801-1827. When one sees two books that cover the same period, it is always good to look at both books. They can often contain different information.

By looking further at book C:10 Birth and Christening records 1801-1820, we see that that there is a circle with an “i” before the words birth and christening records. This means information and if you put your mouse over the “i”, you will see the notation, “register till födelseböckerna” or register to the birth books.

hove birth register

When we look at this book, we see it is an index organized by first given name and then birth year. Note -you will not encounter this type of birth index in many parishes. But remember before the mid 1800’s, the information can vary by time and minister.

In browsing this book, we will find a page for Carl’s and you will find the information for Carl Johan in the section for Carl’s born in the year 1819.

carl birth index recordHabo (F, R) C:10 (1801-1820) Image 16 / Page 25 (AID: v34105.b16.s25, NAD: SE/VALA/03256)

The information shown in the above index record includes:

  1. Second given name – Joh. or abbreviation for Johan
  2. Parents’ first names: Johan, Katrina
  3. Residence in parish – Sållarhemmet (line above the letter m represents a double m).
  4. Year – 19 or 1819
  5. Day of month – 10
  6. Month – 2 or February

The book C:11 Birth and Christening records 1801-1827 contains the actual birth records. It is always good to look in the front of the book and check for a table of contents. There may be multiple types of records in the volume and the table of contents will show on what pages the various types of records begin. In this case there is not a table of contents and the births are arranged in chronological order. Open the book and look for birth records for the year 1819 and then the month, February, and then the day, the 10th. Below is the birth record for Carl Johan.

carl johan birth recordHabo (F, R) C:11 (1801-1827) Image 109 / Page 213 (AID: v34106.b109.s213, NAD: SE/VALA/03256)

The record contents are:

  1. Birth date – 10 (February 10, 1819)
  2. Baptismal date – 11 (February 11, 1819)
  3. Child’s given name – Carl Johan
  4. Parents’ names – Johannes Larsson and Kathrina Andersdotter
  5. Residence in parish – Sållarehemmet
  6. Baptismal witnesses – And. Carlsson och (and) D. H. dess hustru or his wife Stina at Skogshemmet
  7. Mother’s age – Between 25 and 30

The next step is to find out more information about the family by going to the household book that includes the year 1819. Now we return to the Habo archive and search for the household book that contains the year 1819. We find the book, AI:4 Household records 1814-1820.

search habo household book

The household books are organized by place name. In most household books you will find a place name index in the front or back of the book. Open the book and search for a place name index or ortregister. Then look for Carl Johan’s residence, Sållarehemmet, in the place name index.

habo place name indexHabo (F, R) AI:4 (1814-1820) Image 5 (AID: v20176.b5, NAD: SE/VALA/03256)

The place name index states that the records for the place, Sållarehemmet, begin on page 206. Now there may be one page for the place or many pages, but the page number shown in the index is the start page for the search for the family. We now go to page 206.

hova household recordHabo (F, R) AI:4 (1814-1820) Image 110 / Page 207 (AID: v20176.b110.s207, NAD: SE/VALA/03256)

In this case we find the family on page 206. Below is the information that is shown for the family:

  • (Father) äg. (abbreviation for ägare) owner or landowner Johannes Larsson born on the 6th of May 1782 in Loco Loco is a Latin term meaning here or in Habo parish. Note – further research will show that the birth date is incorrect and is actually the 15th of May 1782.
  • (Mother) H. (abbreviation for hustru or wife) Catharina Andersdotter born on the 6th of May 1790 at loco or in the parish of Habo.
  • Son Anders born 9th of May 1813 loco or in Habo. There is also a notation that he has died.
  • Son Gabriel born on the 23rd of April 1816 loco or in Habo. There is a notation that he died in 1817.
  • Flicka (Girl) Stina Svensdotter born on the 15th of October 1803 in Ekebo. There is a notation that she moved here in 1816 from Ekereds torp and moved out in 1817 to V. Ekered. More research is required to check to see if she is just a worker or if she has some relationship to the family.
  • (Son) Carl Johan born on the 10th of February 1819 in loco or Habo.

Since there are no notations that the family has moved in or out, we can assume that the family is living at the same place, Sållarehemmet, in the subsequent household book. We can continue to trace Carl forward in the household books until his emigration.

Also, from this record, we have enough information, that we can look for birth records for other members of the household. Also, please note that sometimes the minister will note the incorrect birth date information in the household record such as was the case for the father, Johannes Larsson. If there is a discrepancy between the birth dates in the birth record or household record, you should always use the information shown in the birth record.

For more information about researching in the church books, go to the following links:

ArkivDigital

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.

ArkivDigital

Using the Table of Contents in the Swedish Church Books

When you are researching in the Swedish church books in ArkivDigital, many times you will discover that some Swedish church books contain multiple types of records. You may find birth, marriage, death, moving in and moving out records in the same volume. Many books but not all contain a table of contents (Innehåll) but this may not be immediately obvious if your native language is not Swedish.

Before searching for a record in a volume, one should always check for the presence of a table of contents (Innehåll).  If one exists, the table of contents (Innehåll) is usually located in the front of the book and will show the page numbers where you can find the various record types.  Below is an example from a birth and christenings book for Kärna parish in Östergotland county.

Table of Contents

Kärna CI:3 (1808-1856) Image 3 / page 1 (AID: v38617.b3.s1, NAD: SE/VALA/00208)
Link

Transcription
Innehåll
Födelse-  och doplängd  6/1 1808 – 25/12 1856____________________pag. 4 -231;
Vigesllängd 27/3 1808 – 30/12 1856________________________        ”  233-294;
Död- och begrafningslängd 4/1 1808 – 28/11 1856________________     ” 295-427.

Translation
Table of Contents
Birth and baptismal records  January 6, 1808 – December 25, 1856____page 4-231;
Marriage records   March 27, 1808 – December 30, 1856___________  “ 233-294;
Death and burial records  January 4, 1808 – November 28, 1856_______”295-427.

The table of contents shows the page numbers where you can find each set of records that are in this book: birth, marriage and death records as well as the date coverage. Thus if we were looking for a death record in 1808 for Kärna parish, we would go directly to page 295 to begin the search.

While not all books include a table of contents and in those cases you may need to browse through the book to find the correct section, we recommend that you develop a habit of always checking for the existence of a table of contents (Innehåll) in a volume to help your search.

ArkivDigital