Genealogy Research in Sweden, Useful Sources, Links

Genealogy Research in Sweden – Useful Sources

Finding your way in the Swedish church records and other historical archives is a science all in itself. Mamy Swedish genealogical societies have already written numerous guides regarding that. So let us instead have a look at the ever-changing world of digital sources. The old-school genealogy researcher might still exist, by at least I have so far never found myself in the physical archives. Instead, there is plenty of material available online and in other digital sources. Here are my experiences with some of these sources as well as the databases and registers that I have found most useful for genealogy research in Sweden. I have also included a link to where you can find each one of these.

This list will, of course, need to be updated from time to time. Last update: 2022-02-02.

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Source Providers

There are four source providers that compete in the Swedish genealogy market. These are the profit-driven ArkivDigital, Ancestry, and MyHeritage as well as FamilySearch. In addition, there is the Swedish National Archives that has made a lot of records available online for free. So what are the main differences and uses when performing genealogy research in Sweden? Which of these source providers can be useful? Let us have a look, here are my experiences using these systems myself in my research.

Riksarkivet – Digitala Forskarsalen

Riksarkivet, the National Archives, is the largest free source of genealogy information in Sweden. The portal includes photos of the main church records as well as several other databases and registers. For many, Riksarkivet is enough to build the family tree and provide information for several years of research. Its main limit is usually the old scans of the church records, resulting in making it harder to read the information. It also lacks many of the registers and indexes that make it easier to find information.

In general, Riksarkivet is the best source for beginners who are still a bit unsure if they want to spend any money on their research. The information available here is more than sufficient for any researcher, paying for other services is all about convenience. For research about Swedish ancestors, Riksarkivet is in many ways much more suitable than the much larger global actors such as Ancestry and MyHeritage.

Pros

  • Free
  • Easy access
  • Extensive Swedish records
  • Many searchable databases and registers

Cons

  • Low-quality photos from the church records

Available here: Riksarkivet

ArkivDigital

ArkivDigital is a Sweden-based subscription service that mainly offers access to historical Swedish records. It is possibly the largest database of scanned church records and searchable registers available in Sweden. The church records are available by the book and it is possible to read them page by page to find the relevant information. The company has focused on taking new high-quality photos of the old books instead of using the old scans that Ancestry and Riksarkivet are using.

They state to have more than 90 million color scans from the Swedish church records and in total around 230 million searchable posts. There are two main differences compared to the free records available online at Riksarkivet. The first difference is the photo quality, which makes it possible to read some of the information easier. The old scans are sometimes really hard to transcribe or understand as the resolution is limited. The second difference is the access to many very useful population registers. For anyone trying to find now living relatives, then that task is almost impossible without the registers such as Sveriges Befolkning 1950 and Sveriges Befolkning 1960. The service is the only one that offers the Swedish census data of 1940, 1950, 1960, 1975, and 1985.

To summarize, for anyone that is diving deeper into their Swedish heritage, there is no other service today that can compete with ArkivDigital. For only lighter research in Sweden, Riksarkivet is still the recommended service due to it being free to use.

Pros

  • High-quality color scans
  • Many searchable records
  • Swedish population registers unavailable elsewhere
  • Focus on Sweden

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited information from outside Sweden

Available here: ArkivDigital

Ancestry

Ancestry is a company based in the United States. The genealogy research here is split into three parts, subscription-based access to the records, the free for all family tree-building tool, and DNA test services. So, what records can be found about Swedish ancestors? The records of the Swedish church books, with the possibility to go page by page through the old books. The photos are, however, the old photos that also Riksarkivet is using. It is the registers that many could consider useful as well as the online tool for building your family tree.

The company states that it has more than 27 billion information posts from around the world. However, many of these posts include duplicated information. For example, a wedding notice in one old church record is the source of multi posts as the posts are split into one for the bride, one for the groom, one for each parent, and so on. The same record might also be found in multiple registers, creating several more posts for the same event. The registers often include data that is either very limited or that is missing the link to the original source. However, there are very extensive registers as well. Related to Swedish research these are connected to finding your way in the population records as well as finding information about emigrants.

The possibility to find hints in other users’ trees is a valuable addition. There are many errors in the trees, but many also include information about sources, comments, and even photos. This makes it possible to use the trees to gather information that later can be confirmed in the original sources.

To summarize, if you look for information about Swedish ancestors, then much of the information available for subscribers at Ancestry is also available for free at Riksarkivet. It is once you need to confirm and find information about migrants that Ancestry can shine. Few other services have such an extensive database of records of people who have crossed the Atlantic. The possibility to easily compare information from Sweden with arrival information in the United States makes it easier to confirm the connections. This is made even more reliable when there are matches in transit countries such as the United Kingdom. It is when you have migrants and also want access to records from the United States that Ancestry might be worth the subscription cost. Otherwise, most of the other information is available for free at Riksarkivet.

Pros

  • Large collection of international records
  • Large collection of migration records between Europe and North America.
  • Possible to compare information with other researchers
  • Possible to communicate with other researchers

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Most records miss the link to the original source.
  • Many records only have limited information.

Available here: Ancestry

MyHeritage

MyHeritage is an Israeli-based company and few have probably missed their aggressive marketing campaigns. They are split into three parts: subscription-based access to the records, subscription-based access to (or otherwise limited use of) the family tree-building tool, and DNA test services. So, how useful are their records and registers? For anyone wanting to go through the original church records page by page, then MyHeritage will disappoint. Instead, you will have to rely on their transcriptions of the sources to search for your ancestors. If they have misread or done any error in the transcription, then you will most likely not find the page you are looking for.

They state to have 16.3 billion historical posts. Many of these posts do not include the main source, making it hard to confirm the transcribed information. This is especially true when it comes to the records of births, marriages, and deaths in Sweden.

The company collaborates with ArkivDigital, meaning that the register posts connected to the Swedish church records include high-quality photos of the original source. Their shared register for the Swedish population data between 1800 and 1947, is one of the main sources for anyone wanting to find a way to speed up the search through the old books.

Other functions include the possibility to find matches in other users’ trees. These matches can sometimes be used as a hint of where to look for further information. Unfortunately, the possibility to copy other users’ trees into your own has had the effect that any mistake or faulty information has spread like a virus to other trees. When looking at the match, there is also no possibility to see anything in regards to sources, so the recommendation is to use it as hints and find a reliable source yourself.

To summarize, for anyone looking to find information about Swedish relatives, MyHeritage is unable to compete with the more extensive records of Riksarkivet and ArkivDigital. If you happen to have ancestors in multiple European countries, then MyHeritage might provide a better solution to access also information from those other countries in one subscription.

Pros

  • Large collection of international records
  • Registers for many smaller countries, such as Finland
  • Possible to compare information with other researchers
  • Possible to communicate with other researchers

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Varying quality of transcriptions
  • No books, no possibility to go page by page
  • Low-quality searches, giving a large number or none-related results.
  • Agressive marketing

Available here: MyHeritage

FamilySearch

FamilySearch is another free service, even though it requires membership and sign-in. It is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is based in the United States. They have material from all around the globe, but quality varies between each register. When it comes to research in Sweden, it is somewhat limited. They do not have the church records so you can go page by page. Instead, it is like MyHeritage and you have to search for the person and hope to find it. As with MyHeritage, they do have the high-quality photos from ArkivDigital linked and visible in their posts connected to the Swedish Household Examination Books.

As with many other services, links to the original source and old documents are not always there. Instead, the user needs to trust the transcriptions. Their global reach also means that they have plenty of migration records.

To summarize, FamilySearch is a perfect tool for the ones that don’t require a lot of information about Swedish ancestors. It is a great complement to Riksarkivet for anyone that wants to do genealogy research free of cost. The access to migration records makes the service very suitable for the ones with family on both sides of the Atlantic.

Useful Registers and Databases

There are plenty of digital registers and databases related to genealogy research in Sweden. The number of registers and databases means that many people today need to prioritize which ones to get. Luckily a few of these are available for free. Here are all the registers and databases that I repeatedly use to find the information I need.

Allmänna Barnhuset 1798-1916 (Stockholm Public Orphanage 1798-1916)

It happens from time to time when searching in Swedish records that you find a foster child from Stockholm. They tend to show up in many areas around Sweden and there is usually limited information in the local records. Many of these children came from the orphanage in Stockholm and this register usually follows the child through their entire childhood, including moving between foster parents.

Available here: Stockholms Stadsarkiv

Befolkningen i Sverige 1800-1947 (Sweden’s Population 1800-1947)

ArkivDigital and MyHeritage have a shared project. The register is available on either platform but requires a subscription. The register is a transcription of the main information from the Swedish church records as well as all the population books between the year 1800 and 1947. The transcriptions from the original texts are many times of low quality and mistakes are very common. Each post in the register is however linked to the photo from the original source, meaning that it is possible to use this register as a way to quickly find a person of interest in the main books. This register has around 165 million posts.

Available here: ArkivDigital & MyHeritage

Bouppteckningsregister (Estate Inventories)

One of the main sources many uses is the register for estate inventory for the deceased. Both Riksarkivet and ArkivDigital have their own separate registers. So if you can’t find a person in one, test the other. The register links to the original document and that document usually gives information about spouses and descendants. Well, it also lists the many items and possessions of the deceased. Riksarkivet is available for free while ArkivDigital requires a subscription.

Available here: ArkivDigital & Riksarkivet

Centrala Soldatregistret (Soldiers)

Centrala Soldatregistret is a register of Swedish soldiers. The register is managed by volunteers and includes information about soldiers between the years 1682 and 1901.

Available here: Soldatregistret

Emigrantregister (Emigrants)

ArkivDigital and Ancestry have a common project, creating a register of Swedish emigrants. Access to the register requires a subscription. The register includes information from the police offices in Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö, and Helsingborg. It covers the period 1869 to 1964 with a few gaps depending on the police office. The information includes the name, estimated birth year (or date if available), departure date, age, departure port, and o which ship they departed.

Available here: ArkivDigital & Ancestry

Emigranten Populär is a register of about 1.4 million Swedish emigrants. It was originally available on CD but has since also been included in the subscription at Ancestry.

Available here: Rötter Bokhandeln & Ancestry

Kungliga Biblioteket Svenska Dagstidningar (Newspaper Archive)

This is a national archive that includes many of the newspapers ever published in Sweden. Many have been digitalized and available by the search function at the National Library of Sweden’s website. The copyright laws prevent users to see many of the newer papers that are less than 115 years old. Older papers can include some gems about both ancestors and interesting events. Newer newspapers are only available at designated libraries and universities.

Available here: Kungliga Biblioteket

Rotemannen 3

Rotemannen 3 is a register published by Stockholms Stadsarkiv and contains around 6.3 million posts about the inhabitants of Stockholm between the years 1878 and 1926. Stockholm is difficult for any researcher due to the number of people. This register, which in parts is also included in Befolkningen i Sverige 1800-1947, is an important source for anyone who is just beginning their search in Stockholm. It takes time to get an understanding of how to find information in the main sources.

Available here: Rötter Bokhandeln

Sveriges Befolkning 1880 (Sweden’s Population 1880)

This is a census register published by Riksarkivet in 2011. It was earlier available for purchase in the form of a CD for a local installation of the register. It is today available for free online at Riksarkivet’s Digitala Forskarsalen. The register covers most of the Swedish population as of the last of December 1880. The register gives information about the year and place of birth, occupation, as well as information about other members of the household.

This source can be useful sometimes and I would then suggest the use of the free online version. The release of the church records is many times a better source, but this register can be of good help once you are unable to locate where your ancestors have ended up.

Available here: Digitala Forskarsalen

Sveriges Befolkning 1890 (Sweden’s Population 1890)

This is a census register published by Sveriges Släktforskarförbund in 2003. It is similar to the register for 1880 and it was earlier available for purchase in the form of a CD. The register covers most of the people that lived in Sweden at the end of the year 1890. It is today also available online at Riksarkivet’s Digitala Forskarsalen. The register gives information about the year and place of birth, occupation, as well as information about other members of the household.

Here I would give the same recommendations as for Sveriges Befolkning 1880. Use the free online version once the need arises. The main use is to locate missing relatives that have been lost in the books.

Available here: Digitala Forskarsalen

Sveriges Befolkning 1900 (Sweden’s Population 1900)

This is a census register published by Riksarkivet in 2006. It was also earlier available for purchase in the form of a CD for a local installation of the register. It is today also available for free at Riksarkivet’s Digitala Forskarsalen. The register covers most of the people that lived in Sweden in the year 1900. The register gives information about the year and place of birth, occupation, as well as information about other members of the household.

The original church records is easily available and are in general a better source for information. The best use of Sveriges Befolkning 1900 is when a person or family is lost in the records and you need a hint of where you might be able to find them. The best use on those few occasions is the free online version.

Available here: Digitala Forskarsalen

Sveriges Befolkning 1910 (Sweden’s Population 1910)

This is a census register published by Riksarkivet in 2015. It is available for purchase on DVD for local installations, but it is also available for free at Riksarkivet’s Digitala Forskarsalen. With around 5.5 million posts it covers most of Sweden’s population in 1910. The register gives information about the year and place of birth, occupation, as well as information about other members of the household.

Available here: Rötter Bokhandeln & Digitala Forskarsalen

Sveriges Befolkning 1930 (Sweden’s Population 1930)

This is a census register published by Riksarkivet. It was originally considered to be published in the form of a DVD, but it seems like it is today only available at Riksarkivet’s Digitala Forskarsalen. The register does today cover parts of the Swedish population in the year 1930.

When following a person towards more modern times, the 1930s start to become a bit more difficult. Both due to urbanization as well as the that the number of sources starts to be limited due to the limitations in effect on accessing newer records. The census data for 1930 can then be used as a source when others are unavailable or time-consuming to search through.

Available here: Digitala Forskarsalen

Sveriges Befolkning 1940 (Sweden’s Population 1940)

Sveriges Befolkning 1940 is a census register published by ArkivDigital and only available online through their platform. Access requires a subscription. The census data covers most of the Swedish population at the end of 1940. Information includes date and place of birth, as well as occupation and marital status. The original books are also linked in each post. In total there are around 6.3 million posts.

This is a register that is very useful when looking for information about more recent generations. For many areas, the church records for this year are not yet available for the public, and from this record onwards it is the census data that is the most useful.

Available here: ArkivDigital

Sveriges Befolkning 1950 (Sweden’s Population 1950)

Sveriges Befolkning 1950 is another census register published by ArkivDigital. The register is available online but requires a subscription. The data is not actually based on any census data, but on other population data as of 1951. Information includes date and place of birth, as well as occupation and marital status. Members of the same household are also in most cases linked with each other.

Available here: ArkivDigital

Sveriges Befolkning 1960 (Sweden’s Population 1960)

Sveriges Befolkning 1960 is another census register published by ArkivDigital. The register is available online but requires a subscription. The data is not actually based on any census data, but on other population data as of 1961. Information includes date and place of birth, as well as occupation and marital status. Members of the same household are also in most cases linked with each other.

Available here: ArkivDigital

Sveriges Befolkning 1970 (Sweden’s Population 1970)

Sveriges befolkning 1970 was published in 2002 by Sveriges Släktforskarförbund. The register is available on DVD as well as on USB drive. The register includes around 8 million posts about the Swedish population as of November 1970. Information includes in addition to address, the date and place of birth as well as the possibility to find other persons living at the same address.

Available here: Rötter Bokhandeln

Sveriges Befolkning 1975 (Sweden’s Population 1975)

Sveriges Befolkning 1975 is another census register published by ArkivDigital. The register is available online but requires a subscription. The data is not actually based on any census data, but on other population data as of 1976. Information includes date and place of birth, as well as occupation and marital status. Members of the same household are also linked with each other.

Available here: ArkivDigital

Sveriges Befolkning 1980 (Sweden’s Population 1980)

Sveriges befolkning 1980 was published in 2004 by Sveriges Släktforskarförbund. The register is available on DVD as well as USB drive. The register includes around 8.3 million posts about the Swedish population as of November 1980. Information includes in addition to address, the date and place of birth as well as the possibility to find other persons living at the same address.

Available here: Rötter Bokhandeln

Sveriges Befolkning 1985 (Sweden’s Population 1985)

Sveriges Befolkning 1985 is census register published by Arkiv Digital. The register is available online but requires a subscription. The data is not actually based on any census data, but on other population data as of 1986. Information includes date and place of birth as well as marital status. Members of the same household are also linked with each other.

Available here: ArkivDigital

Sveriges Befolkning 1990 (Sweden’s Population 1990)

Sveriges Befolkning 1990 is a census register that was published by Riksarkivet. It is available on a USB drive for local installations. It contains information about most people that lived in Sweden at the end of 1990. Information includes the address, date and place of birth, and marital status. It is also possible to find out who else lives at the same address.

Available here: Rötter Bokhandeln

Sveriges Befolkning 2000 (Sweden’s Population 2000)

Sveriges Befolkning 2000 is a census register that was published by Sveriges Släktforskarförbund in 2020. It is available on a USB drive for local installations. It contains information about most people that lived in Sweden at the end of the year 2000, based on data extracted in 2014. The data in the around 8.9 million posts are not based on actual census data. Instead, information from the public social security register has been used. Information includes the address, date and place of birth, and marital status. It is also possible to find out who else lives at the same address. The register is not better than its original source and many posts are missing essential information.

Available here: Rötter Bokhandeln

Stockholms Befolkning 1945 (Stockholm’s Population 1945)

Stockholms Befolkning 1945 is another census register published by Arkiv Digital. The register is available online but requires a subscription. Instead of covering the whole of Sweden, this register only covers the city of Stockholm at the end of 1945. Information includes date and place of birth as well as marital status. Members of the household are also linked with each other.

Available here: ArkivDigital

Sveriges Dödbok 8 1830-2020 (Death Index 1830-2020)

Sveriges Släktforskarförbund has for several years had an ongoing project to register everyone that has died in Sweden. Their project, known as Namn åt de döda (Eng: A name for the dead) has generated one of the most useful registers available. The register is available on USB drive for local installations and once installed there are multiple options for searching among the people who have died. The current version covers the years 1830 to 2020 and has about 15.4 million posts. The information does not only include the date of death, but also the person’s last address, birth date, and marital status. As it is not the main source, there are a few errors. But in general, the register is to be considered fairly reliable.

Available here: Rötter Bokhandeln

Local Archives and Databases

There are plenty of local archives in Sweden, both by government institutions as well as by local organizations. Here are a few that I have found useful in my research.

Demografisk Databas Södra Sverige (Blekinge, Halland & Skåne)

Demografisk Databas Södra Sverige (DDSS) is a local database with information about births, marriges, and deaths in the provinces of Blekinge, Halland, and Skåne. It has around 60.000 published posts searchable on the website.

Available here: DDSS

Stockholms Stadsarkiv (Stockholm)

The Stockholm City Archives are large and there are plenty of information available about the city’s historic inhabitants. It is especially useful when it comes to the orphanage and the maternity hospital.

Available here: Stockholms Stadsarkiv

Organizations

There are plenty of organizations in Sweden focused on either the local heritage or on genealogical research. Many of these have their own archives, but they are also good at providing guidelines on research as well as what you need to understand the local history.

Sveriges Släktforskarförbund

Sveriges Släktforskarförbund, known as The Federation of Swedish Genealogical Societies in English, is as the English name suggests the mother organization for most of the genealogical societies in Sweden. They run the website Rötter or also known as Swedish Roots.

The organization has a lot of information about genealogy research in Sweden, such as information about Swedish provinces, names, the structure of the church records, and a lot more. They also have their own online book store with several resources that can be useful when researching Swedish ancestry. In addition, they also have several archives of their own.

Available here: Rötter

Genealogiska Föreningen

Genealogiska Föreningen is a national genealoical society based in Sundbyberg. They have several archives and databases available for their members. Their website includes many recommendations and guidelines about genealogy research in Sweden. The site is in Swedish.

Available here: Genealogiska Föreningen

Släktdata

Släktdata is a non-profit organization that has quite an interesting goal. They want to transcribe and index as many of the church records as possible. They have made this database available online for free, meaning that you can search in over 9 million posts from many different parts of Sweden.

Available here: Släktdata

Other Sources of Interest

And let us also have a look at a few other sources of interest.

Släktforskning Biveros

I have published several posts about my ancestors and other genealogy-related content on the blog. These posts are in Swedish but easily translated with e.g. Google Translate.

Available here: Släktforskning Biveros

Anbytarforum

The Federation of Swedish Genealogical Societies (Sveriges Släktforskarförbund) has an online forum where genealogy has been discussed for decades. It is not uncommon that your question has already been asked here in the past. Otherwise, there are plenty of knowledgeable and helpful users that are active on the forum.

Available here: Anbytarforum

The featured photo is from Arkiv Digital: Bälinge (D) C:2 (1712-1742) Bild 8 / sid 7 (AID: v54639.b8.s7, NAD: SE/ULA/10150)

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