Let’s face it. Genealogy isn’t cheap. Between the database subscriptions and the family tree software it adds up. It doesn’t matter whether you are just starting out and not ready to spend the money, or if you are on a budget for any other reason. It is still possible to research your ancestry in Sweden with these free tools.
(SWE means the interface is only in available in Swedish.)
1. SVAR, Digital Research Room – The first and most significant tool gives you access to most of the Swedish records that you will need. (For English see the link Other languages at the top.)
2. Google Translate – Most records you will use old spelling. (The last big spelling reform was in 1906.) But Google Translate is surprisingly good for translating old, odd words.
3. Swedish Genealogical Word List at Family Search – Word lists can be hit or miss. But this has a structure that makes it usable without knowing Swedish grammar. And it comes in a 31 page version that can be downloaded!
4. DigitaltMuseum – A digital collection of photos and artifacts from Swedish and Norwegian museums. This site has tons of old photos, some of which are in the public domain. The copyright is listed for each item.
5. Facebook groups – Search “Swedish genealogy” and you will find a few groups with helpful fellow researchers. If you are feeling adventurous, search “släktforskning” (family research) and join a Swedish group or two. You can post your question in English! Or join one of the many bilingual local groups named “My ancestors are from Jämtland” and the like.
Two rules for the best chance of getting help: 1. Always post the source of any screenshots. 2. Do mention if you have posted the same request in another group to avoid helpful people solving something that has already been answered.
6. SWE Ortnamnsregistret – The topographical register by the Swedish Institute for Language and Folklore. An advanced source as it involves reading Swedish handwriting. Click on the county (län) you are interested in or “Sök i hela Ortnamnsregistret” (Search the entire Place-name directory).
7. SWE Svenska ortnamn med uttalsuppgifter – A list of 1126 place names and their pronunciation.
8. SWE Fornsök – Archaeological and historical sites and buildings by the Swedish National Heritage Board. It may sound too old to be relevant. But it marks the ruins of old crofts. It is also a great tool to find stories about the region. To use it click “Sök lämning” (Search for relic), enter a place name under “Ange geografiskt område” (Enter geographical area), click Sök (search) and the map will zoom in.
9. Historiska Kartor – A collection of maps from The Swedish National Land Survey. One great way to use it is to go to the Advanced Search. For the archive, select “Regional Archive”. After entering the location, select “Storskifte” for Measures.
10. (SWE) Eniro – An up to date, easy to use map that has many of the minor, old names. Not all maps are created equally in this regard, and Eniro is a good one. Another one is hitta.se, start searching by hiting “Kartor” (Maps). Simply enter the location you are after.
The one crux of going between the place names in the records and modern maps is, well, that everything has changed.
The historical address was written as “farm name/street address, parish, county”. The modern address is in the form “estate/street address, community/city”. But there are overlaps in the naming of things. Eniro can often find what you are looking for and makes suggestions if it’s not an exact match.
If you don’t know where to start, try writing the address in the form “farm, parish”.
Eniro has the extra advantage of historical aerial photos. The images are from mid 20th century.
And look at this! There’s a ship at Amerikaskjulet in Gothenburg, right in the middle of the image. Amerikaskjulet was the terminal for ships to America between 1912 and 1975.
So there you have it! Ten free to use, great tools for your Swedish genealogy research. They will help you with everything from access to the actual archives to understanding the cultural context.
One free tool is missing on the list. Download the guide below on how to remember a Swedish ancestor. It has all the relevant questions that will help you identify your ancestor in Sweden.