Bridge to Sweden
Newsletter no 19
January 2006



Photo: Marie Louise Bratt

This is what our river looks like now, - so very beautiful... The sun can no longer reach it, but it touches the tree tops for a short while in the middle of the day. As I write this, it's not yet three in the afternoon, but outside its dark. But we'll get it back this summer!  


God Jul!
... in English, Merry Christmas... We just celebrated jul in Sweden, with tomte (little gnomes), julgran (Christmas tree), glögg (powerful Swedish Christmas drink), and julklappar (Christmas presents). More Swedish food here.

You never had glögg, this wonderful hot drink, available everywhere in Sweden during this holiday - but at no other time of the year?

Here is the recipe, which makes enough for quite a crew (at least 20):

1 gallon of port wine
1 pint of brandy
1 pint of rum
1/4 cup of sugar
8-10 cinnamon sticks (or powder)
15 cloves
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
a piece of orange peel

Simmer for 15 minutes to 1/2 hour, very slowly, covered. Pour into cups where you have already put slivered almonds and raisins. Drink carefully and not too much, because it is strong! But delicious!!!

But now to business...

Text Box: Emigration to America
Swedes always wanted to know what was outside of their borders.              The Vikings, as you know, loved to travel. A few even went to America.          In the 1600’s, a group of Swedes crossed the Atlantic and started a colony in what’s now the state of Delaware. New Sweden, as they called it, only lasted for 17 years, because Dutch and then English soldiers took over the land. Most of those Swedes went back home, but some stayed in America. Maybe you are one of their descendants?

Many more Swedes left during the 1800’s. The Swedish population had increased rapidly and when crops failed for several years in a row, people starved. This is one reason why thousands upon thousands of Swedes left for America. Others were tired of submitting to a rigid Swedish church or simply eager to see the world.  By the 1930’s well over one million Swedes, from a population of 5 million, had emigrated.

Swedes in the new land
Many Swedish settlers wrote to their families and neighbors back home, encouraging them to emigrate, too. Clever businessmen, in charge of transporting emigrants by ships and trains, published pamphlets with raving reviews about Amerika, some quite exaggerated. Family after family left Sweden and in many villages only the old remained. 

And so it was that in some towns, in Illinois and Minnesota, most people spoke Swedish. There you’ll find places called Mora and Karlstad, where homesick Swedish immigrants tried to recreate a feeling of home. Many Swedes stayed in these Midwestern states, but others moved further west    after some time, some all the way to California and Washington. 

Today over four million Americans consider themselves Swedish descendants. If you check your phone book, you’ll find many names like Anderson, Peterson and Holmqvist, most descendants of Swedish immigrants. 

Web page
The very early emigrants left Sweden for North America during the middle part of the 1800s. They traveled by sailing ships directly from Swedish to US and Canadian ports. This was a long trip, as you might have guessed! 

Then steamships came along fortunately and it became possible to travel from Göteborg (Gothenburg),  Copenhagen or Oslo (used to be Christiania) to Hull, on the British east coast. From there the emigrants continued, by train, to Liverpool on the west coast, where they boarded huge steamships and headed across the Atlantic ocean. Most of the Swedish emigrants traveled this way. 

In 1914 the Swedish American line started to take Swedish emigrants directly from Göteborg to New York and it got much easier to travel to North America. You might be interested in checking out this website, Ships List , which has detailed information about the ships taking emigrants to America and elsewhere. To learn more about the emigration from Sweden to America, I suggest an interesting article by Nils William Olson.  Just click on Life in Old Sweden, then Way Out, and finally on Emigrant Traffic on the North Sea


How do you find the emigration records?
Let's assume that your grandpa came from Sweden, and that you know his name. Just  remember that the name he used in the US or Canada might have been quite different from his Swedish name, which you will need in order to do your research in Swedish records. If you also know when he was born and approximately where in Sweden he came from, you might have enough information to find him in the emigration records.  

Why would it be interesting to find these records? And where are they anyway? The original records are stored at the different regional archives, landsarkiv, but much of this information is now available on a couple of CDs, Emigranten and Emibas, which I'll discuss here. You can find out when your grandfather emigrated, with whom he traveled, and where he lived before leaving Sweden, not only the parish, but even the village and often the farm! You might be able to find the name of his parents, his occupation, and the place in North America, where he intended to settle. That's quite a bit! 

So let's look more closely at these two amazing resources:


... actually consists of several databases covering well over one million emigrants. Some emigrated without registering anywhere though and are therefore not included. These records start around 1869 and continue well into the 1900s. 

So let's have a look at the different databases included in Emigranten:

1. Emihamn 
... based upon police reports written just before boarding the ship. To the right you'll find what is usually included
(Swedish terms in red)
  • first name förnamn
  • last name efternamn
  • age ålder
  • gender kön
  • parish  församling  (the last residence in Sweden)
  • county län
  • port of departure utresehamn
  • date of emigration utvandrdag (short for utvandrardag)
  • occupation or title  titel
  • destination destination
  • co-travelers medåkande 
  • reference code källkod (refers to the original records)


2. Emibas 
(do not confuse with the CD mentioned below)

Here you'll find emigrants from the city of Göteborg (Gothenburg). There were many! 

After the emigrant's name you'll find  
  • date of birth födelsetid
  • father's (fader) and mother's (moder) names and occupation, yrke
  • parishes of birth, födelseförsamling,     and of residence, hemförsamling
  • marital status, civilstånd

3. Emisjö 
... with Swedish sailors traveling to other countries, where many escaped from the ship, others died or simply decided to leave. 

Here you will find 
  • year of birth födelsetid
  • parish of birth  födelseförsamling
  • home parish  hemförsamling
  • yrke occupation 
  • name of ship fartyg
  • harbour hamn
  • country land
  • date datum 

4. Emipass
... was based upon early passport records, from around 1850 to 1860, useful if your emigrant left during this early period of emigration. 

  • age, ålder
  • home parish, hemförsamling
  • year of emigration
  • sometimes marital status, occupation and more

5. Emisal
... records of later emigrants, passengers on the Swedish American line, starting in 1914. Many of these travelers had emigrated earlier and were now on their way to visit their families in Sweden.  

You will find
  • home place hemort 
  • date of travel resdatum 
  • ship fartyg 
  • from ... to  från... till 

6. Emiwasa 
.. finds many of our emigrants in the US, as members of  the organization Wasa (many of these Wasa members were actually born in the US). 

Interesting information to find here 
  • date of birth  födelsetid
  • place of birth födelseort 
  • occupation yrke
  • home state hemstat
  • address adress

  7. SAKA
... is a database of Swedish churches, in the US. These churches have useful records of their members, often including the member's parish in Sweden. 


...  with data taken from  the Swedish husförhörslängd, (household examination records or clerical survey records). Here the minister recorded information about the members of the household, including names, dates and places of birth, marriages, moves, and more. 

Emibas is not yet complete, but what is there is quite useful. 

This is what you'll usually find, about each emigrant:

  • occupation
  • date of birth
  • date of emigration
  • the exact address in Sweden (the farm, parish, county), the most helpful part
  • reference to page in the husförhörslängd