Gratulerer med dagen to all my Norwegian friends! Today is Norway’s National Day, a celebration of the signing of the Norwegian constitution in 1814. You can read more about this big celebration here.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Beginning in 2018 Sweden will join the other Scandinavian countries in allowing free access to the digitized records of the Riksarkivet (Swedish National Archives.) This will provide access to most church records, and many tax, court, and land records, among many other records.
However, these digitized images are the older black and white images that are often not as readable as the new color digitized images that ArkivDigital offers. It is currently not clear what will happen with ArkivDigital. Sveriges Släktfroskarförbund (The Swedish Genealogical Society) is working with the Government and ArkivDigital to try and work something out. ArkivDigital not only has better and more readable images, but they have a lot of images that are not otherwise available online. Hopefully, something can be worked out that will be good for ArkivDigital and all genealogist!
If you are researching in the southern part of Sweden you likely already know about Demografisk Databas Södra Sverige (DDSS) the Demographic Database of Southern Sweden. It has the ultimate goal of providing a free index of all of the birth, marriages, and death records for Skåne, Blekinge, and Halland. Recently they added about 82,000 new records with four new parishes being covered Gladsax, Kvidinge, Källna, and Reslöv. This is a an incredible resource if you have family in the Skåne, Blekinge, or Halland
It is great to hear that Gerhard Naeseth’s five volume set Norwegian Immigrants to the United States-A Biographical Directory (1821-1850) is now available as a searchable PDF on the Norwegian American Genealogical Center & Naeseth Library website. You must be a sustaining member to get access to this information, which while a bit costy, is a great way to support the fine work this group does. And it may be JUST what you need to break down that Norwegian brick wall!
It seems that every time I log on to ArkivDigital–and I do so daily–there is great new material available. Now the web version with the All-In-One subscription includes a quarter of a million portrait photographs, dating from the 1920s to the 1970s, from three professional photographers in Stockholm. As you will imagine the majority of the photos are probably of individuals from the Stockholm area but I have found many photos of people living elsewhere.
You find the “Portrait Collection” among the other index options in the Index Search.
Note that you should plan on doing very broad searches as there may be very little information about the photos.
Martin Roe Eidhammer whose great blog Norwegian Genealogy and Then Some had a post which featured a wonderful video of a traditional wedding in rural Hardanger. It is narrated in English and really gives you a sense of a traditional wedding. It was filmed in 1954. While certainly not identical to 19th Century weddings, it is very interesting and gives a nice flavor of traditional weddings in rural Norway.