Like all Swedish Church records, the Swedish Birth and Christening records vary. They look different in different parts of the country. The difference between a record from the 18th century and the 20th century is even larger. But each entry in a book is fairly similar, making it a little easier. Learn to start reading the records here.
There’s usually at least a date of birth, a name, and set of parents. Reading the handwriting can be a challenge, especially in the 18th century. But in later records, you can get quite far by understanding the column titles. And there’s a lot to find there.
1. Birth and Christening Dates
A birth and Christening record will of course have the birth data. The Swedish records have the date of the baptism listed too, in most cases. The significant words here are Födelse-, Birth, Döpelse-, Christening, Kön., Sex, m/man, male, and q/qvinna, female. In the handwritten records, look for the word föddes, [was] born.
2. Given Name
Another mandatory section is Dopnamn, Given Name. As in most Swedish church records, children are usually listed without a last name. The father’s name will give you a hint of which patrynomic the child used.
This record also lists the total number of children in the family. This is great information to have for any genealogist looking to double check the facts. It’s especially true for Swedish records.
Swedes are one of those populations were everyone seems to have had the same names. It’s easy to confuse people. Look out for the children with the same name as a dead sibling.
3. Parents and Settlement
The header is Föräldrarnes, The Parents’.
The oldest Swedish Birth and Christening records are very short. It’s common to only find the name of the child, the father, and perhaps a settlement in those early books. But by this time, in 1877, you can expect to get the names of both parents. As long as they were known.
There’s a long list in the first sub header. It’s actually common to find all of this in the Birth and Christening records. Namn, stånd, embete, yrke, nationalitet och trosbekännelse (om främmande) samt stället för nedkomsten (om ej i hemorten.) What it means is “Name, social class, office, profession, nationality and confession of faith (if foreign) and place of the birth (if not at home.)” Simply put, it has all the relevant information about the parents.
Next is the column Hemvist, Settlement. If you’re lucky, this includes the page number in the household records.
4. The Mother’s Age
Most Birth and Christening records list the mother’s age. Here it is in its own column.
In this book, the mother’s age is in the header. The record keeper has added the father’s age by hand. Fadrens/Faderns och Modrens/Moderns ålder, The Father’s and the Mother’s age.
The number of Dop-vittnen, Christening sponsors, are usually the same within a parish. But I’ve seen anything from one to six sponsors per child.
The sponsors can give you a bit of an insight into the parents’ social life. Who did they socialize with? Where did they live and what were their professions? Is one couple sponsors for all children of the family? It’s all there.
Sunne kyrkoarkiv, Födelse- och dopböcker, SE/ÖLA/11096/C/4 (1863-1894), bildid: A0014616_00031, sida 27