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