This is the city where I was born and my
ancestors lived for generations. It's from here that my great
grandfather Jacob emigrated in 1883, with his young wife Leontine
and their baby son. They settled in Colorado, lived there for seven
years, and then returned to Sweden, now with three small children.
Among them was my grandfather, Henry. I wondered, since I was quite
young, about why they left Sweden, how their lives were over there,
and why they finally returned home. I have a few answers now, but
far from all. I know that life was difficult for Jacob and Leontine,
both in Sweden and in North America: They were poor while living in
Sweden, and in the harsh midwestern state of Colorado, one of the
children died very young. And the whole time there, I have been
told, my great grandmother constantly longed for home.
Back to the city of Göteborg! It's the second
largest city of Sweden, with half a million citizens in the city
itself. It's old, like most Swedish cities, founded in the 1600s,
which becomes evident as you walk by ancient fortresses, canals and
churches. This link is for you who would like to know more about
Göteborg is located in what used to be called Göteborgs och
Bohus län, which is now included in Västra Götalands län. I
want to remind you that län is the administrative way of
division of Sweden (somewhat comparable to a county in the USA).
There are now
21 län in Sweden. Göteborg is divided into parishes, a parish
being the geographical area surrounding a church. Since records are
organized by parish, knowing it is important when you start your
Before continuing I'd like you to have
available a map of present day Göteborg, where you can zoom in and
out and find parts of the city and streets. I suggest
Eniro. Enter the word
'Göteborg' and Eniro will give you 'Göteborg, Göteborg', which you
click on. Now zoom into the area you are interested in. If you
wonder what this area really looks like, click on 'Utsikt' (view)
and it's almost as though you were there. You can get names of
streets added if you click on Hybrid. Have fun playing!
The number of parishes in Göteborg have varied
throughout the ages. Below are the ones you will most likely deal
with if your ancestors lived here during the 1800s and 1900s. Those
who lived in the central and older part of the city attended
Domkyrkan and belonged to Domkyrkoförsamligen i Göteborg.
Domkyrkoförsamlingen i Göteborg
This parish has existed since the early 1600s. Its name has
changed during the centuries, so if you read Gustavi
domkyrkoförsamling or Göteborgs Gustavi, it's still the same parish.
The church of this parish is
As Göteborg grew, new parishes appeared. An
important one was:
Göteborgs Karl Johan
This parish was formed in 1828 and covers most of
Majorna in the western
part of the city. The website is in Swedish, but if you 'click
around' you'll find photos of the old Majorna. Those who lived in
Majorna at the time attended Karl Johans kyrka (kyrka=church).
The population grew and in 1883 several new
Göteborgs Masthugg with its famous
Masthuggskyrkan (see photo above) covers an area between
Domkyrkoförsamlingen and Göteborgs Karl Johan. On this website
you'll find a list of street names. If your ancestor lived on one,
click on the name, and check out some photos taken on that street.
Masthuggskyrkan is located high up on a hill called Stigberget,
which makes it visible from far. It was often the last view that
emigrants had as they left Göteborg.
Göteborgs Kristine was once a special parish for the many
German citizens who lived in Göteborg, but became a Swedish parish
in 1883 for those who lived close to Kristine kyrka or
Tyska kyrkan (the German Church).
is located just outside the moat, south of the oldest part of
Göteborg. This was long an area for the poor and for workers, but
during the last few decades it has become rather chic to live here.
This is Haga
In 1908 several parishes were separated out of the larger parishes:
Oskar Fredrik (from Göteborgs Masthugg) is located in
Olivedal, just west of Haga, and next to the beautiful park
Göteborgs Vasa (from Göteborgs Domkyrkoförsamling) is
located southeast of the moat. The Göteborg University is here, and
also the Landsarkiv, the regional archives, where Lil and I spent
much time recently. If you go to Göteborg, don't skip this important
Göteborgs Annedal (from Göteborgs Haga)
is located just south of
, a fortress from the 1600s. My mother was born here, so this is
of course a very important place - to me.
Ready to find your
ancestors from Göteborg?
Try this address calendar
Before phones appeared there were evidently no phone books, but
address calendars, now on the Internet, which is where you
might find your Göteborg ancestor during the years 1850 to 1899.
I looked for my great great grandparents, under their last name,
and found them, with full street address plus his occupation.
Landsarkivet i Göteborg
is where the original birth,
marriage, death and moving records records are stored, and lots
of other interesting material as well. The archives have records
from all of Göteborgs and Bohus län, Skaraborgs län and
Älvsborgs län (now combined to Västra Götalands län). This is
where Lil and I spent much of our time, learning about our
parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
Around 80% of all
emigrants left Sweden from Göteborg - leaving for the United
States and Canada, as well as Britain, Germany, Australia, New
Zealand and South America.
The emigrants arrived from all over the
Scandinavian countries, mostly by train, to the
station, located just a short walk from the harbour. From
the station they walked Sillgatan, now called Postgatan,
the Custom's House. There they boarded a ship, which took them to
England and then on to North America or elsewhere. Note: If the
English on the above website seems odd to you, it's because it was
automatically translated from Swedish, using an Internet program.
These programs are not yet perfect.
The emigrants often came to Göteborg early and
had to find some kind of lodging, often at Sillgatan. Many had to
share small rooms, and probably felt like 'herrings in a can'. If
this is how Sillgatan, the Herring Street, got its name, I really
don't know! How did they spend the time waiting for the ship to
leave? Shopping, what else? The street was filled with small shops,
where the emigrants were encouraged to buy new clothes in order to
arrive well dressed to the new country.
At Sillgatan there were also lots of pubs and cafés, where one could
easily spend all of ones money if not careful.
In the 1900s direct shipping lines began, from
Göteborg to New York. These big ships, Stockholm, Drottningholm,
Gripsholm and Kungsholm left from
Amerikaskjulet, the America house, built in 1912. My mother
told me how she and her friends would enjoy watching the
celebrations, when these huge ships left the Göteborg harbour, an
exciting event for young children.
Records of the departures from Göteborg are
available at Landsarkivet. These records were kept starting in 1869,
and include information about each emigrant (name, age, parish of
residence, destination). There are also CDs with this information
and I would be happy to try to find your emigrant there, if you
Just contact me, please!