Bridge to Sweden
Newsletter no 39

November 2017



Ship Götheborg entering the Norrtälje harbour, a replica of the original ship which sank in 1745, in Göteborg (Gothenburg). In this video you can see it arrive in South Africa.  


November is here - and no more trips for this year. We spent much time in Småland this summer, which is not unusual, with a few very special days in Gränna and Jönköping, celebrating Jack's 90th birthday. Several of his children, grandchildren and also newly found Swedish relatives celebrated with us. 

Let's talk about seas, and ships, and sailors in this newsletter! Since forever Swedes have moved around the country, and the world, by boat. Just look at a map of Sweden: Long shorelines and thousands of lakes! Perhaps this is how your emigrant also went from Sweden to the new country.

Your sailor, or emigrant, probably left parents and siblings behind in Sweden, and Sweden might also have been where they were buried. So let's find their graves, which was made possible with the help of websites and CDs. 

You will need maps, especially older ones, in order to find the village and the farm where your relatives lived, and died. There are some excellent ones on the internet, and I'll guide you to them.



Swedish sailors
So your Swedish grandfather was a sailor! You know that he came to North America or New Zealand or another faraway country on a Swedish ship. Younger sailors were not allowed to sign off in another country, so your sailor might have escaped. He stayed, married, had a family, and so there was you!

Now you want to find out more about grandpa's travels. From what port did he leave Sweden? When did he first sign on to become a sailor? Did he make many trips around the world before coming to the continent where he finally settled?

Let's start with the household examination records in the parish where he lived and find the one covering the time when grandpa was 16 - 18 years old. There you might find a note saying what sailor's house (sjömanshus)  he were to belong to, and also the registration number given to him at that place. This is useful information, because now it's possible to dive into the records for the sjömanshus in question.

So what is this place, sjömanshus? There were once close to 50 of them, located all over Sweden, mostly along the coast. This is where young men would register and receive a registration number, a process called  inskrivning. His name and date and place of birth were recorded, and also his present address.

If grandpa lived in the Göteborg (Gothenburg) area, he most likely traveled to that huge port in order to register and then to sign on to a ship (mönstra)If he lived far from Göteborg he probably went to one of many other sjömanshus. The sailor's house documents have lots of information about your sailor, from his initial registration, to his signing on to a particular ship, in a påmönstringsliggare, where the crew of each ship was recorded. His  return was also recorded, in a avmönstringsliggare. Sjömansrulla is another interesting document, with each crew member's name, date and place of birth, present address, sailor's house, registration number, when and where signed on, and much more.

Where do you find these records? The originals are located at each regional archive (in Göteborg, Härnösand, Lund, Uppsala, Vadstena, Visby and Östersund). Some of the records are available on the Internet, unfortunately only on paid websites, Riksarkivet and Arkiv Digital. The database Emigranten/Emisjö is useful in order to find one of around 17000 sailors who escaped or signed off outside of Europe between 1812 and 1930. One of them could be your great grandpa!

You need help? Then send me an email with your sailor's name, date of birth, if possible place of birth, and any other information you might have. Riksarkivet, Arkiv Digital and Emigranten/Emisjö is available to me and I'm happy to try to find your ancestor in these resources.



Find that grave

When your grandpa or your grandma emigrated from Sweden, she or he left mother and father behind, and perhaps also some brothers and sisters. If they died in Sweden, and were buried here, you might want to find their graves, especially if you plan to visit Sweden and the cemetery where they were buried. Here are a few websites that could help:

This site covers 1 796 102 graves in all of Sweden. Enter your relative's name and date of birth, and you might find the cemetery where her or his grave is located.

is a similar site. There is no English version, so realize that förnamn means  first name, efternamn means last name, födelsedatum means date of birth, ort means place. Only some parishes are included.

Gravstensinventeringen (gravestone inventory)
is based on the work of many volunteers, who have photographed around 75 000 Swedish graves located in over one thousand cemeteries. There are only graves of people who died before 1940. 

Svenska Gravar
This is a useful page that includes many districts, including Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö, but also several others. Under Sök gravsatt enter the person's name and year of birth, and you might find the deceased person. My grandfather, Iwan Bratt, died in Alingsås, and I found his grave there and also family members buried in the same grave.

There is a special website, Hitta Graven, with graves in Stockholm cementeries. An English language version is available.

If you cannot find your ancestor's grave in any of these sites, I suggest that you contact me. I have a CDs named Sveriges Dödbok, which has  information about those who díed between 1901 and 2013. A new verion of this CD covering years 1860 to 2013 is under preparation. Two othere CDs are helpful, Begravda i Sverige (Buried in Sweden), and Begravda i Stockholm (Buried in Stockholm).



Old maps of Sweden, and new ones

Now that you have found the parish where your great grandmother was born and where she died, and even the village and the farm, it's time to go to detailed older maps. Here is one website that will interest you:

Lantmäteriet Historical Maps
These are maps from the 1800s and 1900s, sometimes even earlier, were you might find the village and the little farm where the family lived. Before you start, two things: You have to use Internet Explorer (these maps do not work with anything else), and you have to download a software program called DjVu before starting. There are instructions in English!

Now you might want to see what this area looks like today. It's quite easy - just go to Eniro maps. Enter the name of the town or village into the space in the left upper corner, and even the farm. Then click on flygfoto and you will have a great view of the area.



Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving holiday, and also a God Jul (Merry Christmas)!


Marie Louise Bratt


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