Ortnamnsregistret (Place Name Index)

When researching in Swedish records you will often come upon place names that are unknown to you. You check neighboring parishes, the farms and villages in the parish you are working and nothing. What can you do? Google can be a good start, but some places are so unique that even Google may not point you in the right direction. So where should you turn? Sweden’s Institute for Language and Folklore’s Place Name Index (Institute för språk och folkminnens Ortnamnregistret).

The Place Name Index is a database of 3.7 million (!) identified entries for place names, primarily in Sweden. These are not all unique and many of the names are for places in nature like lakes, hills, forests, tarns, and swamps. Some are landmarks. But many are built locations like farms, cottages, and houses.

The database and search screen is entirely in Swedish but you should have few problems as it is very straightforward and easy to use. You can either search the entire database by selecting “Sök i hela Ortnamnsregistret” or select the county you are working in.

Once you select either the whole database (hela Ortnamnsregistret) or single county (i.e., Värmlands län) the following search box open. Here we have selected the whole database, but this can sometimes result in providing too many results to analyze effectively.

It is often easiest to leave all the settings alone and simple use the Place-name (Ortnamn) search box. Enter the place you are looking for and use the wild card % as necessary. You may use more than one wild card and remember spelling varies greatly. So consider all possible spelling variations.

So let’s say we are trying to figure out the following location in a marriage record in Grangärde, Dalarna, Sweden.

Some of it seems easy the first two letters are Rä or Kä, the middle portion is problematic, is that ndås, mlåf, sdåh, or what. But the last two letters appear to be la or le. Ignoring the middle portion gives us a few variations to try among them Rä%la.

This Rä%la search gives us 32 likely results and we see in the Parish (Socken) and Location (Lokal) columns that most of the results from Grantärde Parish are a village (by) named–Rävåla. An almost perfect match. Note: The extra letter between the å and l is the superfluous h that is often found following å or o. From here it is easy to check to confirm if the individual was actually from this location.

This location database is extremely valuable not only for it vast depth of information but for the simplicity and flexibility of the search function. I use it on almost a daily basis. And if I suspect that you find it useful too.

Best of luck!

Släktdata

There are so many great Swedish genealogical websites to assist researchers, it can be difficult to keep up with all of them. Over the next few weeks I will feature some of my favorite research sites. Today I would like to look at Släktdata.

Släktdata is a non-profit association of volunteers who extract data from Swedish church records and make the data searchable and freely available to all researchers. This can be a huge help especially for those difficult to read older documents. This is not a word-for-word transcription but an extraction of the most vital pieces of information from each record. Obviously, an initiative like this will take years to complete, so you will find some Parishes have been heavily extracted, while others have not been touched.

The database contains extracts of:

  • Births
  • Marriages
  • Deaths
  • Household Examination Records
  • Estate Inventories
  • Moving In and Out Records
  • Tax Records
  • Court Records

The one slight difficulty for American researchers is that the site is entirely in Swedish. However, it is easy to use and easy to understand without too much effort. You can get to the database from the Homepage by clicking on the “Sök personer databasen” link.

This will open up the Search Screen.

From there you can either enter information in the search boxes or, and I would recommend this, you can select the Registerlista tab. The Registerlista is a list of all of the Parishes and collections of data that have been extracted so you can see if the Parish and time period you are looking for has been extracted. The Parishes are listed alphabetically.

Here for example you can see a number of birth (F), marriage (V), and death (D) volumes in Hagby Parish, Uppsalas Län have been extracted. So if you were looking for Hagby birth between 1768 and 1786, you would click on the magnifying glass with the plus in it, and a new screen opens.

From there click on the Excelformat link and an Excel file with all of the extracted birth data from Hagby from 1768 to 1786 will download to your computer. You can open, and search or copy the data as you would any Excel document. (If you do not have the program Excel, there are other free spreadsheet programs that can open this file or you can down.) There is a .txt file option, but that can be difficult to format and use.

The data on Släktdata is far from exhaustive for Sweden, but it is growing all the time. If you are lucking enough to be researching in one of the extracted Parishes it could save you a lot of time. Just one note, always remember to look at the original record. As I mentioned before, these are not transcripts, but extracts. Information-sometimes very important information-may not have been extracted.

Best of luck!

MyHeritage Adds 3 Norwegian Census Indexes

MyHeritage has added searchable indexes to three Norwegian Census, including 1891, 1900, and 1910, to its growing collection of Norwegian records. Search results connect directly to scanned images of the census returns for 1891 and 1900 making it a breeze to work with these records. The 1910 census index is not linked to scans of the original census returns, but if applicable this census is important to work with because it is the only census currently available that has individuals’ full birth dates. It also has specific information on individuals who lived in America for a time and then returned to Norway. The information included on these individuals includes migration dates, occupation, and place of residence in America.

Although indexes already exist for these census reports on Norway’s Digitalarkivet, the search capability on MyHeritage tends to be more flexible and easy to work with. This is an important addition to the research tools available to researchers in Norway.

Swedish Newspapers 1734-1906 to be Online

The Royal Library of Sweden, in cooperation with the Swedish National Archives, will be putting online all the Swedish newspapers in its collection dated 1734-1906. The 1906 stopping point is based on Swedish newspapers being protected under copyright for 115 years and the project expecting to take about four years. Approximately 1,250 titles have been identified for this project.

This will be a significant help to historians and genealogists. Although Swedish newspapers do not usually print detailed obituaries like in the U.S., it is common to find birth, marriage, and death notices. And more importantly, it is not uncommon to find notices about individuals who have migrated.

There are already many digitized newspapers available on the Royal Library website but this will be significantly enhanced almost daily for the next four years. Many of these newspapers have been available in Sweden, often on microfilm, but having them readily accessible online, not to mention indexed with OCR, will be an incredible help. It should really open some genealogical doors through your Swedish brick walls.  Remember to keep checking back with the website as they will be putting more and more newspapers up!

Happy hunting!

Swedish Military Records Indexed

ArkivDigital now provides an index to military service cards (Värnpliktskort or Stamkort) for the period 1902 to 1941. These service records have been available on ArkivDigital for some time but they can be difficult to find.

Using the new index could not be easier. You must have an All-in-one subscription and be using the web version of ArkivDigital. Just select “New Index Search” it will bring up the “Search for People” form.

Select “Military service cards” from Index Source, provide a bit of information like name, birthdate, birth parish etc and it will pull up options.

Here I merely put in the individuals name Sven Gadde and it pulled up three options

Select the correct option and you can see the digitized service card.

So here is my Sven Gadde’s Military Service Card

Keep in mind there is a reverse to this card so advance to the next image by clicking on the right-side arrow.

There is often not much information on the back but it might be interesting, here for example we can see the years in which Sven Gadde participated in the annual muster.

Essentially, all men born between 1881 and 1921 should have a service card, as military service was mandatory for men.

For more information on this new index see ArkivDigital’s blog on the subject.

New Swedish American Church Records Online

Great news! Ancestry.com has digitized, indexed, and now has begun releasing the church records from the Swedish-American Lutheran churches. The records are from many affiliated Lutheran churches that have largely combined today as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. So far Ancestry.com has released records from the Evangelical Covenant Church and Evangelical Free Church of America, and it appears they may soon release the Evangelical Luther Church in America records.  These records were previously available in microfilm at the Augustana College Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center.

Records vary from church to church. They may have a history of the church, meeting minutes, membership records, or birth, marriage, and death records.  Often the membership records will give the individuals place of origin in Sweden. In fact these church records may be the only place that this information is recorded here in the U.S. These records will often be in Swedish, nevertheless, they tend to be very readable and online translators are usually pretty good if you are having trouble.

It is difficult to be certain of the percentage of Swedes who were members of a church here in the U.S. but it is certainly a significant number.  These are must-use records for anyone with Swedish-American ancestors.

Swedish Tax Records, Part 1

Tax records are great, if often overlooked, resources for Swedish genealogical research. In many parishes these records are especially important as they pre-date the beginning of household examinations, and they may be found when the local parish records have been destroyed, as multiple copies of tax records where kept in more than one location.

Example of an ArkivDigital filming of an 1820 Mantalslängd for Backe Parish, Göteborgs och Bohus Län

There are several types of taxes that have been collected in Sweden since the early 1600s, perhaps the most important being the mantal. The mantal was collected yearly in each parish. The original was retained by the district registrar (Häradsskrivare), and copies were kept at a regional office (Landskontor) and a national copy was kept at the Kammararkiv (now at the Swedish National Archives.) Today, there may be one, two, three, or sometimes no copies left. ArkivDigital has filmed many of the district and regional copies and now they are filming the national copies. They are focusing first on the tax lists that do not exist at the local or regional levels. You can read more about their plans here.

The district registrar original may have more information than the regional and national copies, and should be preferred if multiple copies exist. But it is always a good idea to review all existing versions. This blog post will describe how to find digitized versions of the tax lists on ArkivDigital, later posts will discuss how to use and understand what is on the list.

The tax lists can be a bit difficult to find because they can be in several different locations on ArkivDigital. The national level lists can be found by using the “New Archive Search” (Swedish Version: “Ny Arkivsökning”) and searching for “Chamber Archive” (Swedish: “Kammararkiv”).

Swedish version of the search to find list of national copies of the tax lists that have been digitized by ArkivDigital

The regional level lists can be found by using the “New Archive Search” (Swedish Version: “Ny Arkivsökning”) and searching for “Country Office” (Swedish: “Landskontor”).

English version of the search to find list of regional copies of the tax lists that have been digitized by ArkivDigital

The district originals can be a bit more difficult to find because they can be in several different archives. The majority are in the “District Registrar” archives (Swedish: Häradsskrivare) but you may also have to do a New Archive Search/Ny Arkivsökning in:

English / Swedish

“Kommunalborgmästare” / “Kommunalborgmästare”,

“Crown Bailiff” / “Kronofoged”,

“Kronokamrer” / “Kronokamrer”,

“Crown Treasurer” / “Kronokassör”,

“Census Office” / “Mantalskontor”, or

“Taxation Authority” / “Uppbördsverk”.

Once you the New Archives Search returns a list of options it may be by län (county) or härad (district). You will need to know the härad your parish is located in.  Note: härad boundaries changed over time so make sure you are looking in the correct place for the given time. Once you have found the appropriate härad, scroll through to find your parish, and then in most cases the villages and farms will be listed and scroll to your desired location.

If household examination records do not exist, tax records may be the only way for you to reconstruct families. While these records can pose some challenges, they can be vital to your research!

Research on Scandinavian DNA

OK, so maybe this won’t DIRECTLY help your genealogical research…but it is interesting.  A recently published work based on ancient DNA suggests that Scandinavians are essentially the product of two separate migrations into Scandinavia after the last Ice Age. The article Population genomics of Mesolithic Scandinavia: Investigating early postglacial migration routes and high-latitude adaption, is a very interesting-if technical-discussion of the how modern Scandinavians came to be. The study suggests that after the last Ice Age, separate populations migrated first from the South and then from the Northeast, combining in Scandinavia.

Perhaps it is not surprising, the study also found that it was during the postglacial time period that DNA adaptations to the high latitudes created “high frequencies of low pigmentation variants and a gene region associated with physical performance.”  In other words our reputation as hard working, blond haired, blue eyed (Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, Danes) goes back millennia.

ArkivDigital FREE this weekend 11-12 November 2017

Once again ArkivDigital is offering full, FREE access to its All-in-one Service. This is a great time to try out the services if you have not used AD before, or try out the extended services if you have their Basic subscription.  (I know I sound like I work for them, but I get nothing from them and their service really is that good.)

This is also a great time to note, that they just extended their index of household examinations back another 20 years to 1860, so now, almost everyone should be able to more easily find their ancestors in Sweden even if they do not know their parish of origin.