So you want to connect with your distant cousins in Sweden. They are the great grand nieces and nephews of the Swedish immigrant in your family tree. Who are they? What happened to the relatives who stayed in Sweden? Where might your ancestors have been if they had never ventured out in the world?
After the church records are available
The church records available online stop 70 years ago. That’s where the Swedish law of secrecy sets in. Sometimes even older records are secret, because they include newer data. Sometimes the service providers don’t make copies of public records, because pages in the same book are secret.
But the censuses are available and public. And they can be read and searched with English interfaces.
Censuses can be bought from the Swedish Roots bookshop. Here, they are sold for the years 1880, 1910, 1970, 1980, and 1990. Censuses at Swedish Roots bookshop.
The National Archives also sell censuses. They have them for the years 1880, 1910, and 1990. Censuses at the National Archives.
You can also use the censuses via ArkivDigital under Index search. This is what I do. They are available for the years 1940, 1945 (Stockholm only), 1950, 1960, 1975, and 1985. ArkivDigital.
How to know if your relatives are still alive
The newest census available is already 30 years old. A lot happens in that time, so it can be useful to look up our relatives in the Swedish death index. The latest copy available includes practically all deaths between 1860 and 2017. This is another resource sold by the Swedish Roots bookshop. The Swedish Death Index at Swedish Roots bookshop.
Locating living relatives in Sweden
And here we are with a Swedish relative who is most likely alive. Where do we find the address?
Nowadays it easy to contact people on Facebook. Perhaps a written letter suits your situation better. Regardless, I would suggest starting with any of the sites below. It’s easier to make sure that you have the right person that way. Facebook is not as good for identifying people.
Two sites that offer white pages are eniro.se and hitta.se. They will give relevant results with only a little information. But it pays off to add more details in the searches. I’ve noticed that it filters on information that is not shown in the results.
Filtering as much as possible is useful, especially because many have the same name. Remember how Swedes didn’t have family names in the nineteenth century? After family names became cumpolsary in 1901, many ended up with the same last names. Naming is more varied now, but there are still lots of Anderssons and Johanssons. So it’s still easy to make mistakes.
Both sites only have Swedish interfaces, but they work the same way. Type the full name, including middle names, in the search bar at the top and press enter. Enter more data if needed.
Some people are not in the phone book. If that’s the case, your last chance is to use ratsit.se, a site for credit history. Like the other sites, it gives better results the more details you enter.
This one is also only available in Swedish. The top row is for entering the details about whom you are searching. In the bottom row goes anything related to the location.
To sum it up
So, the 70 years secrecy in Sweden limits our access to church records. But we can still research living relatives in Sweden using other sources. The censuses, the death index and the regular phone book can get us to our living family in Sweden.
And lastly, a reminder to consider our relative’s situation. As thrilled as we are to have found new family members, some do not want to have contact with new relatives. I had that happen myself a few months ago after a surprising DNA test result. It may be disappointing, but we can’t force someone to respond to us.
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