The first steps into genealogy|
På svenska (In Swedish)
■ Genealogy is the hunt to recapture history. This hunt is not conducted solely via the history books, where military hordes mingle with a nameless proletariat, involved in historical happenings. Instead we will find another route to history – the road, which takes us to the individual, the person of flesh and blood, who wept and cursed, danced and laughed on this planet before us. We shall make use of our own ancestors in making this voyage of discovery into the past.
The beginning of genealogical research is not to rush ahead to the nearest archives for the purpose of devouring old tomes. The archives remain where they are and there is no hurry to get there. Instead the purpose should be to gather as much information as possible concerning one´s family before making one´s first visit to an archive.
Look for your family in the attic
Search bureau drawers and your attic as well as other hiding places for items which can relate something of the family. Maybe you can find grandfather´s military enrollment book or perhaps some ration cards from World War I. Grandmother's glasses are perhaps resting on top of a small box of letters, sent to her by her husband while he was absent on a trip. In the bottom of the box you might find a wedding picture. On the back of the photo grandmother has written – »Sunday, 14 May 1893». The photographer had his studio in Norrköping – did grandmother come from Östergötland?
Often one may find genealogical data in the family Bible as well as in exit lists, estate inventories, diaries, letters and other personal documents, which can serve a useful purpose in identifying one´s ancestors. Don´t forget to ask relatives about what they know of the family.
Where did the family hail from?
In order to find one´s Swedish origin one may get the information from the passenger manifests in the National Archives in Washington, DC and from emigrant lists to be found in the regional archives in Gothenburg (Göteborg), at the Central Bureau of Statistics in Stockholm as well as at the Emigrant Institue in Växjö and the Emigrant Register i Karlstad. Much of this material is on microfilm and may be used in other archives as well as libraries in Sweden. These records generally go back to the beginning of the 19th century. In order to continue the research in Sweden it is necessary to know the birth place of one´s ancestor or the last domicile in Sweden as well as the date of birth and emigration. Often there may be problems in identifying a place name because of a garble in the ortography.
Read books and attend a study circle
When the relatives and the bureau drawers have told their story it is time to make one´s first visit to the archives. But before one does, one has to learn how to conduct genealogical research with the aid of parish records and other old documents. Here are a few tips:
Uppdaterad / Updated 29 maj 2004
- Libraries in Sweden have books and journals which deal with genealogy. They may be found on the shelves marked Ld (which stands for Genealogy). There are excellent guides for beginners as well as for those more advanced.
- Study groups in Sweden usually organize study circles for those interested in genealogical research. Having participated in these, one will eliminate the usual beginner´s errors. One learns which archival materials are available and how one proceeds in a methodical fashion. Often a visit to an archives is a part of the circle's program. Additionally one gets training in how to read the old »German» script, which was used in the olde days.
- Genealogical societies. There are over 150 local and regional genealogical societies in Sweden. They arrange meetings, sell pedigree charts and assist members with their genealogical problems. The largest organization is The Swedish Federation of Genealogical Societies.
- In the United States there are institutions which can assist you in your research. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Genealogical Society, 35 North West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150. The Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center, Augustana College, 639 38th Street, Rock Island, IL 61201–2273.