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.

Swedish National Archives Free Beginning 2018

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!

New Indexed Records for Southern Sweden DDSS

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

Portrait Photographs on ArkivDigital

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.

Estate Inventory Indexes On ArkivDigital

ArkivDigital is at it again! Now they have added a search capability to help you locate your ancestor’s bouppteckningar (Estate Inventory). For those who have not used bouppteckningar before, they are great for confirming relationships and they give just about the most complete picture of your ancestor’s life-at least from a material perspective. These very detailed inventories are wonderful resources.  The problem has always been that they are in these large collections, which usually need to be searched page-by-page. It can be difficult to locate “your” inventory.  (Yes, some indexes do exist, but they were few and far between.) The problem is exacerbated by the fact that although almost everyone was supposed to have an estate inventory conducted–at least after the law created the requirement in 1734–many people did not have inventories done and even for those who did, it is clear that not all these inventories survive.  Also, while it was common to have the estate inventoried almost immediately after death, in some circumstances it could be many months or I have seen examples of several years before it was done.  And even then, there are possibly multiple courts where the record could exist. Bottom line, they could be difficult to find.

Select “New Index Search” > then select “Inventory of estate” under “Index Source” and you will be given options to enter name, date range for the inventory, and location of the inventory. I would start with a broad search and then narrow it down, as location and dates can be unexpectedly broad.

ArkivDigital released this capability as a work in progress. Currently, indexes are available for Gotlands, Jönköpings, Kalmars, Kronobergs, Stockholms, Uppsalas and Östergötlands Counties. They are planning on continuing to add to these indexes.

Note: In addition to listing every animal, spoon, book, item of clothing, and work-tool the decedent owned, you can frequently find the signatures of surviving relatives at the end of a bouppteckningar! Happy Hunting!

SwedGen Tour 2017

Once again this year, a group of Swedish genealogists will make a trip to the U.S. to present spectacular Swedish genealogical presentations.  This year they are making three stops: on 23 September 2017 at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wisconsin; 30 September 2017 at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois; and finally 7-8 October 2017 at the Old Mill Museum in Lindsborg, Kansas.

If you are ANYWHERE in the neighborhood you really have to attend.  These are professional Swedish researchers and they provide one-on-one assistance, in addition to lectures. If you plan on attending you must sign up however. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

ArkivDigital Advanced Search

Well, ArkivDigital has done it again! Another great update to their service. They have added an Advanced Search option for the 1950 Census, 1960 Census, and 1880-1920 Population indexes. Much of the update merely makes the searching a little more clear by having separate fields for entering specific types of information, rather than the one field for all searching. They have various search options in the categories of Name, Birth, Census, and Household.  So now you can distinguish in your search between someone’s residence and place of birth. AND what I find incredibly useful, you can search for two people in the same household!! This can be an incredibly useful capability depending on the information you have.  I would highly recommend a quick read of the blog that describes this functionality.

Note: The Advanced Search functionality is only available on the web version of ArkivDigital.