Church of Sweden
You might have read that church records are important genealogy sources in Sweden. Isn’t that a little unreliable? There is an explanation.
Until July 1991 the Church of Sweden handled civil registration in Sweden. It might seem odd that an external organization handled governmental tasks. But the Church of Sweden was actually a part of the state until the year 2000. Swedes were not allowed to leave Church of Sweden until 1951.
The civil registration was performed by Church of Sweden from the year 1686. This makes church records the most important sources in Swedish genealogy. The parishes listed their populations in Household records (husförhörslängd). These were continuously updated.
The focus of these books was to track church attendance and knowledge of the catechism. The content and quality varies. These events are typically mentioned:
- Date and place of birth
- Grades in reading and scripture
- Attendance at communion
- List of soldiers
For the state, the latter was the most important. Sometimes you will also find a note of a person’s health or a sentence.
From the year 1894 the population was registered in Congregation records (församlingsbok). The content is similar to the household records. Religious notes are generally not included.
The parishes kept specific records for life events like these:
- Birth and Christening records (födelse- och dopbok)
- Death and Burial records (död- och begravningsbok)
- Banns and Marriage records (lysnings- och vigselbok)
- Moving in and out records (In- och utflyttningslängd)
These records are primary sources for the corresponding events.
If you are lucky, your parish of interest have other documents, like Parish meeting protocols and documents (Sockenstämmans protokoll och handlingar).
There are also Population registers (mantalslängd) available. These were the basis for taxation. Since they are not as detailed as the church records, they are not as useful and not as easy to find online. The very first taxation records are however vital when going back further than the Household records allow. These are Älvsborg’s ransom from 1571 and 1613.
Another source worth mentioning is the Estate inventories (bouppteckningar). ArkivDigital makes them convenient to find in the list of records for each parish. They were however part of the juridical system and are sorted by hundred (härad). Not only do they list the belongings at the time of death. Each estate inventory includes the heirs of the deceased.
Read and download Resources for Swedish genealogy. It shows how to best find these and other genealogy sources.
Learn more about Geographical Terms in Sweden.
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