Sweden Genealogy Genline Workbook
Swedish Church Records
There are several kinds of Swedish Church Records. Some are more useful to a
than others. This is true particularly when a person is just beginning to
ancestors. Perhaps my opinion is not correct, but I believe the Household
Record HER is the most important type record of all.
Examination Record HER started out as a way for the priest to keep track
taxes and the ability of the parishioners to master church doctrine about
There was an examination each year to see what progress on religious education
But in the process of doing this, a record was created which included the name
person living in each house, the relationship to one another, their date of
the place (parish) where they were born. Further entries would show when the
were married, when they moved into the parish where the record was made, and
they moved if they left that parish to go to another. Death dates are given if
passed on. In fact, the records mostly seem lacking in the record of the
knowledge, as time went on. So the very reason the volumes were kept seems to be
first detail to go wanting in the records. Often the left side of the opened
all the pertinent information about the family. Then on the right side where
are to be made about religious knowledge, there is a blank. Far to the right on
page there may be a notation of something to do with the person. This is where
be seen that the person left for America, for example.
Birth Records are
important. This is useful to find the name of the parents of a person.
When you have the name of the parents, look further in the birth announcement
favorite piece of information: the farm where the family lived when the person
This will be very important when trying to establish the birth place and birth
each parent. This will be necessary so the continuing backward journey through
can continue. The farm name follows the easy to read letter i. It means 'in'.
And no amount
of bad handwriting or over inked pen usually wrecks this letter.
In and Out. Last for a beginner genealogist is the In and Out books. These
the volumes which document the movements of each person in each parish. I would
to say they are very helpful. But it seems that just as soon as they would be
the volumes do not exist. Or the person you are looking for is not there when
be there. However, they have provided useful details in a search of various
they remain on my list of useful books.
Volumes. I do
not use the christening books, the banns books (engagement
announcements), the wedding books, the death books or the burial books. I guess
will come when I will want to flesh out each ancestor. At that time these
volumes may come
in handy. But for now, I just do not have an interest in the information they
Fortunately you are a different person perhaps with a different mind set. So go
on to any
of these volumes as you feel the need. Just not me. All four of these volumes
chronologically. But all four categories of records could be in the same volume.
you must go to the table of contents for the volume. FIRST, before searching the
In the table of contents you are looking for the pages in that specific volume
used for the records you seek. (See an example of the table of contents of a
page 71 of this workbook.) Once you know the pages where the record you seek can
then apply the proportionality method of calculating a good start page. You will
technique explained on page 91 and following in this workbook. With this
calculation you will
be able to get closer to the desired page than if you use a hunt and peck
Every family eventually has a single person who takes on the task
of collecting ancestor facts. And this person is called the
family historian who should really be called the wonderful person
who has had time to research and record difficult to find facts.
Or just plain 'Wonder Person'. Order a sweat shirt with that phrase.
Swedish Church Records
What is the Swedish Church Records archive?
Genline's Swedish Church Records archive consists of photographic quality images
scanned from microfilm of the original church records. These microfilms are
direct copies of the masters kept at the Swedish National Archives in Stockholm.
What Swedish Church Records are included in our archive?
Our church records archive includes records from the 16th-20th century. These
records consist of birth/baptismal, confirmation, marriage, death/burial, church
ledgers and household examination rolls. These are the main sources of
genealogical information in Sweden. In some cases we will be complementing these
church records with those kept by a government agency known as Statistics Sweden
(abbreviated as SCB).
Swedish Church Records
By Elisabeth Thorsell
Professional genealogist, lecturer
Sweden, a country in northern Europe,
has not had any civil registration of Vital Statistics until 1991. Why? Did
Swedes and Finns (until 1809) not have to register Births, Marriages and Deaths?
Indeed, they certainly had to, and
omission to do so was punished by law. But it was not the local civilian
government agencies that kept track of the important happenings in the lives of
It was the church. In 1527 Sweden became a
Lutheran country, and the church became a State church. The king (or queen) was
and is the head of the church, and all clergymen were also state officials, and
stayed so until 2000, when the state and the church were separated. The State
church excluded all other denominations until 1858, and everybody had to accept
to be registered by the State church, even if you were Moslem, up to 1991, when
the local tax authorities took over this job.
The clergy had to keep track of the
christenings, marriages and burials, to make sure the people of their parish
paid the required fees for the clerical services, and also the tithes, as they
had to. So accounts (kyrkoräkenskaper) are the oldest church records
still existing, even some from catholic days in the 1400s.
During the early 1600s many Swedes studied at
the German universities and brought home ideas on many things, which were then
used in their parishes. Among those ideas was the keeping of Christening,
Marriage and Burial records in a special book. This was ordered by at least two
early bishops, Johannes Rudbeckius of Västerås and Johannes Botvidi
of Linköping, that it should be done in their dioceses. So several parishes in
those dioceses have continous Church records from about 1630 to 1991. As a
general rule, however, most Church records start in the 1680s, as a result of
the Church Law of 1686.
The keeping of Christening, Marriage and
Burial records is nothing unique for Sweden and Finland, but we do have
something unique in our records: The Husförhörslängderna, or
translated into English: Household Examination Rolls, or shorter: Clerical
Everybody over the age of 15 (about) had to go
to a meeting once a year, when they were examined in the knowledge of their
religion. Everybody should be able to read the Cathechism, so most Swedes, even
the women, could read in the early 1700s, and some could even write. You had to
pass the examination, or else you were not allowed to take part in the Holy
Communion, and that made you a social outcast, and you were not allowed to
marry, for instance.
To keep track of the parishioners' knowledge
of religion, the parish priest made lists of all persons in the parish,
household by household, with spaces for entering age, place of birth, moves,
inoculations, knowledge of different parts of the cathechism and many other
facts of life. These records were kept continously, in big books, every volume
covering mostly a period of five to ten years. The year they start are very
varying in different parts of the country, as the various dioceses had varying
regulations about keeping this kind of record. In Västerås diocese there are
many cl. surveys from the 1600s, in Linköping diocese they generally start
around 1792 and in Lund diocese in the 1810s. The completeness of these records
varies a lot, according to the interest of the clergyman to keep records, some
were interested, others were not.
From the previous text it may be clear that
the basic unit of Swedish and Finnish genealogical research is the parish
(socken, församling). But what is a parish? A parish is a geographical
area, the smallest administrative unit in Sweden. All people in the same parish
went to the same church, were registered in the same books, and were buried in
the same churchyard.
There are also bigger units, a number of
neighboring parishes formed a rural deanery (prosteri), and a number of
those formed a diocese (stift), of which there are now 13 in Sweden, but
generally the starting genealogist does not have to look for the records of
When someone moved from his home parish to
another one, he had to have an Exit Permit, and that was also the custom,
when someone emigrated. Read more on the Exit
More About Swedish Church Records
A Brief History of Statistics Sweden
The parish registration
required by the 1686 Church Ordinance laid the groundwork for future population
Office of Tables (Tabellverket)
Sweden began to keep population statistics in 1749, a quite unique phenomenon.
Sweden - and Finland, which was then under Swedish rule - are the only countries
that possess continuous records of their population so far back in time.
Tables Commission (Tabellkommissionen)
In 1756 a new public authority was established, which was given the task of
ensuring that the Office of Tables worked properly.
was established in 1858. Initially, its operations focused overwhelmingly on
population statistics, but gradually other branches of statistics were added,
such as agricultural statistics, statistics on local government finances,
savings banks statistics and poor relief statistics.
The Tables Commission ceased to exist in 1858 and was replaced by the
Statistical Committee, a body that advised and coordinated official statistics.
The number of members was set at nine, with the Minister of Public
Administration serving as Chairman and the Head of Statistics Sweden as
Statistical Tables Commission
The Statistical Committee was reformed in 1886 to become the Statistical Tables
Commission, which continued to operate until 1948, when it was formally
dissolved. The Head of Statistics Sweden chaired the Commission.