ET Genealogi - First steps

You need to know this

It is essential that you have enough information on your Swedes before you contact us, the professional researchers, or the Swedish archives. If you don’t have the necessary dates, you might waste your time and money, and ours too.

There are three major things you need to know:

1. Name

You need to know the full name of the emigrating ancestor. Both first name/names and last name. Often emigrants left Sweden with a patronymic surname, and arrived in the US with a new surname, most often a surname of a Swedish type.
For example: Per August Svensson left with that name, but in the US he was always known as Pete Sandberg. To find him in the Swedish Passenger lists his patronymic must be known.

Also remember that patronymic surnames like Andersson, Johansson, Carlsson and Svensson are extremely common names, just as common as Smith, Jones and Brown in the US.

To read more about Swedish names, click here.

2. Place

You need to know the place where your ancestor was born. It is not enough to just know the province (landskap), as each province has hundreds of parishes. So the parish is the minimum requirement.

The same goes if you have a location ending in the word län, as that is the word for county or counties.

A parish (församling, socken) is the smallest administrative unit in Sweden. This was the level the church records were kept on. A parish is a geographical area, and can contain several villages and individual farms.
There can be several parishes by the same name in the country, but they can usually be told apart by the province or län name.
For example: Tuna in Kalmar län, Tuna in Södermanland or Tuna in Medelpad.

To find places in Sweden, you can try the following gazetteer: Sveriges Nationalatlas.

Or you can try this link.

3. Date

You need to know the year, month and day your ancestor was born. It is vital, especially when you have people with very common names, like Anna Larsdotter or Carl Magnus Jonsson. There might have been 5 Anna Larsdotters born in the same year in the same parish, and the date will make a difference.

Other helpful things

Date of emigration

The date of emigration, or at least the year, might be very helpful in searching the Swedish Passenger lists.

The destination

It is possible that the place in the US, where you have first found your emigrant, might be the one that he/she listed as his/her destination, when they left Sweden. Knowledge of this might also help to find them in the Passenger Lists.

How do I find all this?

These things can most often be found in American sources, like the US Censuses, naturalization records, obituaries and much more. If you have not done any genealogical research before, there are many good manuals available in the book stores. A good series of lectures can also be found here.

But, first of all - talk to your family and relatives! They might have info you never dreamt of, like the family bible, grandpa's removal permit in Swedish, old letters and pictures from back home, etc.

Also try to find out if your early Swedes in the US belonged to a Swedish American church. Most records from those churches have been microfilmed and can be searched by the staff of The Swenson Swedish Immigration Center. The records are very informative in most cases, and can often give the needed info to start doing research in Sweden.

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Uppdaterad 28 december 2001
Copyright Elisabeth Thorsell