Let’s face it. Genealogy isn’t cheap. Between the website subscriptions and the family tree apps it adds up. It doesn’t matter if you’re 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 for Swedish genealogy.
(SWE means the interface is only in available in Swedish.)
Google Translate – Most records use old spelling. (The last big spelling reform was in 1906.) But Google Translate is surprisingly good for translating old, odd words.
2. Genealogy records
The National Archives – The National Archives of Sweden gives you access to most of the records that you will need. (For English see the link Other languages at the top.)
3. Word list
Swedish Genealogy Word List – Word lists can be hit or miss. But this has a structure that makes it usable without knowing Swedish grammar. It also has general tips for reading old Swedish. Yes, it’s from Find a Swede. 😉
4. Photographs and items
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.
Most Swedish groups welcome posts in English. Just be prepared to use the built-in translation tool if you get replies in Swedish.
Do this for the best chances of getting good answers:
- Include the source for screenshots. What’s the type of record, the parish and the year?
- Mention if you have posted the same question in another group. It helps people see if it’s already been answered.
6. Place names
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. Place name pronunciations
7. SWE Svenska ortnamn med uttalsuppgifter – A list of 1126 place names and their pronunciation.
8. Historical sites
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. Historical maps
9. SWE Historiska Kartor – A collection of maps from The Swedish National Land Survey. Most of the maps you want to use are under “Sök detaljerade kartor” (Search detailed maps).
10. Modern maps
10. SWE Min karta – Min karta means My map. It’s an up to date and easy to use map with many of the old place names. Not all maps are created equally in this regard. But this map is from The Swedish National Land Survey. Other good ones are eniro.se and hitta.se. If you don’t know where to start, try writing the address in the form “farm, parish”.
Min karta and Eniro have the extra advantage of historical aerial photos. The images are from mid 20th century. At this time, many of the old structures, like abandoned houses, were still visible in the terrain.
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.
Before you go…
Did you get Find a Swede’s free Swedish genealogy word list?