There are few hard rules when reading a household record. Parishes used different books. Record keepers emphasised different things. But there are some things that are more likely than others to appear in the Swedish household records.
1. Who was in the Household
Each household is listed together. Elderly parents are often listed separately and together. Any farmhands and maids are usually listed below the family in their own section.
2. The Address
Above each household is a place name. This can for example be the name of a village, a farm (or several), or a croft. In this example the place name was Rud and is found at the top of the page.
3. The Occupation
On this page you see a B before the heads of the households. B is short for Bonde, Farmer. Another common title is Torpare, Crofter, or some shorter version of the word. In front of the wives is an H, for Hustru, Wife. The letter D means Dotter, Daughter. S is short for Son.
4. The Birth Date and Location
There is always a column named something like Födelse, Birth. Older records are more likely to only have the birth year, like here in the column Året, The Year. Newer records usually include the full birth date.
In the next column is Orten, The Location. A common abbreviation found in this column is ibm. Sometimes the whole word ibidem is used. It is latin for “in the same place”. Only take it to mean the same parish. The person might have been born on the same farm, but that’s not for certain.
5. Reading skills
Often there is a column labled Läser, Reading. The symbols in these columns are grades. The grades could be constructed in any way, but you may have luck finding the keys online.
The first small column is named “i Bok”, “from a book”. It refers to the capacity to read out loud from a book.
The next column has the name Förstår, Understands, which refers to understanding the scriptures.
These columns are named Inflyttad, Moved in, and Utflyttad, Moved out. The sub headers are Från, From, Till, To, År, Year.
When people moved within the same parish there is usually a place name here. It can be a farm, a village, or a croft. If you are lucky there are page numbers included, so you know where to look next. If you are less lucky, there is a hard-to-understand abbrevation of a local place name.
However, when people moved between neighboring parishes, it sometimes looks just like when they moved within the same parish.
Moves between parishes are usually noted with the contemporary parish names. If it’s far away, there’s usually a note of the county as well. Sometimes you only get the county or the province.
7. Additional information
This column is often simply named Anteckningar, Notes. The heading here is Lefvnads och Sjukdoms-Omständigheter, Life and Illness Circumstances.
This is an interesting column. Here you can find information about anything else. Be it illegitamate children, sentences, or health issues. Common words in this column are Utfattig, Broke, and Sjuk, Ill.
8. If They Had Smallpox
Many household records have a column for vaccination. Often it’s labled only v for vaccination. A person who has been vaccinated usually has the mark v or vac.. If there is an n, or nat., like here, it means they have had the decease and are naturally protected.
It is usually one or the other. Here it it says ovac. in some places, which would mean ovaccinerad, “not vaccinated”.
9. Who Died
Sometimes there is a column for when someone died. Here you can find the note Död, Dead, written across another column together with a year.
On this page everyone who has moved or died is crossed over with a single horizontal line. A common practice was to cross over those who had moved with a horizontal line, like in the picture. Those who had died were instead crossed over with one or more vertical lines.
These are 9 things you can learn from the Swedish household records
One page in the household records can tell can you all of this about your Swedish ancestor’s life. It will show you who was in their family, where they lived, their line of work, where and when they were born, their reading skills, other places they have lived, any personal issues, their health, and when they died. And we have only scratched the surface of the Swedish church records.
- Brålanda (P) AI:9 (1813-1819) Image 5 (AID: v3814.b5Open, NAD: SE/GLA/13066 through ArkivDigital, retrieved 2020-04-23.
- Husförhör, Nordisk Familjebok, Stockholm: Gernandts boktryckeri-aktiebolag 1884, retrieved 2020-04-23