Bridge to Sweden
Newsletter no 34
Winter in Norrtälje
Photo: Marie Louise Bratt
Gott Nytt År!
that is Happy New
Year! The first snow has already fallen - and unfortunately
melted. But more is expected soon. Luciadagen, the Lucia day, on
December 13, has arrived and passed too, and so has Jul (Christmas),
and we now have a New Year.
You might now be ready to start your
research for Swedish ancestors once more. After finding their birth
records you will probably go to the household examination records,
husförhörslänger. Learn more about these very interesting and
helpful documents below.
Then let's talk about trips to
Sweden! Your are right, we stopped our trips, but we changed our
minds when some of you wrote asking about trips. We could not resist
and decided to start our trips again. More below!
Småland is a favorite Swedish
province of mine, and so is Öland. We have traveled in both
provinces many times with Americans, Canadians and others, whose
ancestors emigrated from there. Learn about these beautiful areas
(household examination records)
These records are so useful that I want you to get familiar with
them. They ressemble the US and Canadian census in a way. However it
was the parish minister who prepared them during his yearly visit
with each family. He probably shared some gossip with the residents
while having coffee with the family, but his purpose was more
serious. He recorded (had to, by law) important information about
each family member, and even about any lodgers, farmhands and maids
living in the household. He wrote down names, dates and parish of
birth and marriage and death. He even checked every household
member's ability to read and write, plus her or his knowledge of
cathechism - probably not popular! You can find the grades each
person received in these records too!
The heading of each column is printed,
which makes them easy to read, but not to understand if you don't
know Swedish. Just above the headings you'll find the page number
and the name of the farm. Below it is often another place name, the
cottage (torp). Note that every farm and little torp has a name!
Here are the most common headings:
Personernas namn - the persons' names
Yrke - occupation
Födelseår - year of birth
Födelsemånad - month of birth
Födelseort - place of birth
Socken - parish (this is now rarely used, the common word these days
Äktenskap - marriage
Gift - married
Enkling (abbreviated enkl.), enka - widower, widow (now spelled
Koppor - smallpox (checked if vaccinated against smallpox)
Hitflyttad från - moved here from (followed by the name of another
parish or the page number in the present book)
Död - dead
Bortflyttad till - moved away to
The columns that follow have the dates for various examinations and
for communions. The last column (bortflyttad) is important in
that it gives the place the person moved to, and also the date of
the move. You might find Nord Amerika, or simply another parish in
Sweden. The most difficult part, very often, is to read what the
You will first find the father's
name, perhaps Anders Jönsson, then his wife (hustru, abbreviate H),
Katarina Persdotter, with their dates and places of birth. Below are
the children, sometimes in order of years of birth, but at other
times divided into boys and girls.
Each book covers around 5 years. So
after finding your family in one book, you will want to find them in
the next one. Did they move and where to? Did any of the children
die? Where did the children go as they grew up? Did the children
marry and have their own families?
The husförhörslängder were kept until about 1895, when they
were replaced by församlingsböcker. The Family History
Library (the Mormon Church), has filmed most of these records, and
you can find these copies at their centers. However, these days most
records are on the Internet, mostly on sites that require payment.
Here are a few of these sites:
Riksarkivet and Ancestry.
The original records have been
transferred from the parishes to Landsarkiven (the regional
There you can find not only
husförhörslängder, but also birth, marriage and death records,
and much else.
If you are one of those people who
have other things to do, such as going to work or take care of a
family, you might want some help with all this research.
please contact me!
Our trips to Swedish farms and villages, where ancestors lived,
started in 2000 with a trip to Skåne and Halland. A group of
Americans joined us as we visited the places where their forefathers
or foremothers lived. Meeting their Swedish relatives brought
excitement, joy, tears, hugs, and many memories.... Since then we
have traveled to Värmland, Hälsingland, Småland, Blekinge, Bohuslän,
Dalsland - and probably a few more that I'm forgetting right now. We
visited the houses, of course, where ancestors once lived. Sometimes
little was left, but with the help of knowledgable people from the
area, we found a foundation, a few apple trees or some lilac bushes.
We admired the ancient churches where grandparents married and
children were baptized, then walked back and forth on cemeteries
looking for the grave where an ancestor was buried. Most exciting,
both for our guests and for their Swedish cousins, was to actually
meet! I have often heard them express with great surprise: "You look
so much like my grandmother!" Or "my mother's laughter is exactly
like yours!" This is when that wonderful feeling of connection
became real. This is actually my family!
You asked us to start these trips
again - and so this spring we'll do it! Very much like we did these
trips before: We'll meet you in Stockholm (could also be somewhere
else in Sweden), travel to the area where your ancestors lived,
visit he farm, the church and cemetery, perhaps the school and
whatever else you would like to see. And, very important, meet your
The research about your family needs
to be done before leaving for Sweden. We need to know the names of
your emigrant or emigrants and where they lived. You have very
Here are some ideas. If you want to join us this year,
send me an
email as soon as possible, with any information you have about
your grandfather, or great grandmother, who emigrated from Sweden.
The research might take time, so it's important to start it early.
Our first trip is planned for May
2014 and we plan to continue through summer and fall (we'll skip
winter, since its short days make it difficult to do everything we
want to do).
I suggest discussing your trip with
anyone in your family who might be interested in joining you in this
adventure. Perhaps this would be a wonderful experience for your
mother or father? Maybe your aunt would love to come along. And your
cousins too! We will take up to 7 people on a trip, for up to one
week. Depending upon the distance from Stockholm (your most likely
entry to Sweden) we might travel by train initially, then (for local
travel) with a minibuss that can take 7 people plus my husband and
me. What if you have difficulty walking? Generally this is not a
problem, since were have our minibuss or car available.
Here is a note from one of our guests about her trip to Sweden.
The cost for your trip depends upon
several factors, including the number of days, the distance from our
meeting place, the required accomodations, the number of people in
your group. Note that a larger group will reduce the cost for each
person, since you'll share some of the costs.
hope to hear from you soon!
Öland this summer?
Småland and Öland are two separate provinces (landskap),
located next to each other right on the Baltic Sea (Östersjön
in Swedish). The province of Småland is divided into three
counties (län): Kronobergs län
and Jönköpings län are located entirely
in Småland, but Kalmar län includes
parts of Småland as well as all of Öland. On this
will find Småland, with Öland being the oblong island to the right.
Huge numbers of people emigrated from
Småland and Öland during the latter part of the 1800s and early
1900s. The emigration actually started already in the mid 1800s, but
stopped when the first world war started, in 1914. Why did they
leave this beautiful part of Sweden? The reasons were most often
poverty and hunger, especially around 1870, when there was a very
serious crop failure. Many hundreds of thousands emigrated from
here, perhaps also your grandfather or grandmother. Whole families
left by sailing ships, and later on by steam ships, to America.
Some died on the way over to what they hoped to be a much brighter
Some of Sweden's favorite books were written by Vilhelm Moberg and
tell us about emigrants from Ljuder parish, in Småland. The series
of books give good idea of how things happened: The Emigrants, Unto
a Good Land, The settlers and The Last Letter Home (all in English).
What is Småland like today? Woods and
lakes, stones of all sizes. Farms, mostly small. Small towns, many
along the shore of the Baltic Sea. Some emigrants came from the
rural areas, others from rather small and beutiful towns such as
Kalmar, Växjö, Oskarshamn and Jönköping. Here you can, even today,
comfortably walk from one side of town to the other!
Kalmar has been an
important port for a long time. Many young men from the area sailed
from Kalmar. It's an old town with a Castle,
Kalmar castle. Kalmar is the central town for Kalmar län.
Växjö is located in
the middle of Småland and is the center for Kronobergs län. It has
grown considerably, and is now a university town.
Linnéuniversitetet is there, named from Carl von Linné (Linneus),
who was born in Småland. Like in many Swedish towns, Växjö has had
several huge fires, which destroyed most of the town, the latest one
beautifully located on lake Vättern, was the center of what in
Sweden is called frikyrkor, free churches, basically churches
that were not part of Svenska
kyrkan, the Swedish
protestant church. Jönköping is the center for Jönköpings län.
If you would like to find old records
from Smålandor Öland, the birth and marriage and death records are
only some examples, you need to contact
where the originals are located. The archives are actually located
Vadstena slott (castle). Their website is unfortunatly in
One of our guests, Richard, wrote
about his trip to Småland. You might want to read our newsletter
from 2007 about his experience,
Richard's trip to Småland.
I wish you a very
Happy year 2014!
I hope to hear from you now that
the festivities have slowed down, and you have perhaps again
started to focus on your Swedish research. If you would like me to
work on some research for you, prepare for a trip to Sweden during
next year or have some translation you would like me to do for you,
contact me by email.
A final request: if you know someone
who might want to read this newsletter, please send it on to her or
him. If you no longer want to be on my mailing list, let me know,
and I'll remove your name right away.
Marie Louise Bratt