Your family has probably told you a few things about your Swedish ancestor. Did they say she came from Storegården, Äspered Parish, Älvsborg County? I would guess not. (If she did, please say hi!) Chances are that the name you have for your ancestor’s home in Sweden needs to be interpreted in some way. It is a key part in answering the question where did my Swedish ancestor come from.
Statistics on Swedish emigrants
Some regions are more likely than others to be where your Swedish ancestor came from. So if you are stuck on where to search, it might be a good idea to start where most of the migrants came from.
The table below is from the Swedish Emigration Commision (Appendix V, table 45). It shows the emigration from different counties to countries outside of Europe. The numbers are not exact, because the registration was not perfect. And for the period 1851-1890 the numbers only include emigrants to “America”.
But they should give a pretty good idea. If your ancestor came to America in the 1850s you can safely save Västerbotten County for last. Jönköping County looks like a better place start.
It varies a bit over time. Värmland County is the county with the most emigrants over the whole period 1851-1908. But, it is only the largest between 1881-1890 and 1901-1908.
|Göteborgs and Bohus||463||1,190||2,798||11,679||10,864||9,805||36,799|
|The Whole Country||14,865||88,731||101,169||324,285||204,513||180,502||914,065|
Making sense of the Swedish place names
In many cases these county names are nothing like what you have heard of. In large part of Sweden it is more common to refer to the province (landskap). If you want to read more about it, check out this post on Geographical Terms in Sweden.
The northern counties cross many province borders, as you can see on the maps. (Unfortunately, some of the old counties are missing on the map.) But these are some of the most common place names to keep in mind:
Småland consists of Jönköping County, Kronoberg County, and Kalmar County. That gives 180,761 emigrants. That is nearly 20% of the Swedish emigrants to countries outside of Europe between 1851 and 1908.
Västergötland consisted mainly of the former counties Skaraborg County and most of Älvsborg County. A total of 124,338 emigrants came from here, almost 14%.
Skåne/Scania consisted of the former counties Kristianstad County and Malmöhus county. The sum of these counties is 104,919 or 11%.
Stockholm can refer to Stockholm City or Stockholm County. The total number of emigrants from here was 50,192.
How to figure out where your Swedish Ancestor came from
To sum it up, some places are more likely than others to be the Swedish home of your ancestor. Consider the timing of your ancestor’s emigration and look at the table above to find the most likely county.
Take the numbers with a scoop of salt, but if you are stuck on where to look, they give you a hint on where to start.
These blog post are also useful when you’re locating an ancestor in Sweden
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- Sundbärg, Gustav, Emigrationsutredningen. Bil. 5, Ekonomisk-statistisk beskrifning öfver Sveriges olika landsdelar / af Gustav Sundbärg, 1910. Through Göteborgs universitetsbibliotek, retrieved 2019-08-16.
- Provinces, counties, and parishes maps derived from GSD-Sverigekartan 1:1 miljon, vektor 2018-12-01 retrieved November 28, 2019
- Provimce map derived from SCB lanskap_shp (corrected)
- Parish map derived from Svenska kyrkan forsamlingar_2008-01-01