Begin Swedish Genealogy

The first step is to find out about as much information as you can about your Swedish ancestor that you wish to research. You will need your ancestorís name, parish where your ancestor lived and a date such as birth, marriage, and death or emigration date. If you have this information, you can research using Genlineís Swedish Church Records archive.

Swedish Church Records

If you are new to Swedish genealogy, we highly recommend the book, Your Swedish Roots, by Per Clemensson and Kjell Andersson. This book provides a step-by-step guide for the North American in how to trace oneís Swedish roots. The book also provides four case studies using Genline showing one how to research in the Swedish church books.

Your Swedish Roots

I donít have much information about my Swedish ancestry. How do I begin finding more information?

First, you should talk with your relatives especially the older ones to gather as much information as possible. The two biggest challenges for many descendants of Swedish emigrants are locating the ancestorís parish of origin and identifying the ancestorís original Swedish name.


Swedish researchers need to be aware of the characteristics of Swedish names and then be aware that many Swedes changed their name after emigration.

The patronymic naming system was in common use up to the end of the 19th century within Sweden. Between 90 and 95% of the population used the patronymic naming system. A child was the son of or the daughter of the father. Thus if the fatherís name is Sven Johansson, his sonís name might be Magnus Svensson or Magnus the son of Sven. Likewise, a daughter might be named Kerstin Svensdotter or Kerstin the daughter of Sven. When a woman married, she did not adopt her husbandís name upon marriage but kept her patronymic.

Swedish Names

How do I find my ancestorís parish of origin?

Below are sources to consider in locating your ancestorís parish or origin or additional information about your ancestor:

  • Personal Sources
    1. Family Members
    2. Family Bible
    3. Letters, Post Cards, Photographs
    4. Diaries
    5. Vital documents (birth, marriage & death certificates
  • Public Sources
    1. Passenger Ship Manifests
    2. Census Records
    3. U.S. Naturalization Records
    4. Swedish American church records
    5. Swedish-American newspapers
    6. City Directories

Parish Look-Up

Swedish-American Church Records

Many Swedish immigrants joined Swedish-American churches primarily Lutheran but also Baptist, Swedish Covenant Church and Methodist. These churches kept very detailed records often information about where in Sweden the immigrant came from.

The Swedish American church records have been microfilmed and are available at the Swedish Swenson Immigration Research Center in Rock Island, Illinois and the Swedish Emigrant Institute in Växjö in Sweden.

More information from the Swenson Center

Once you have learned more about Swedish genealogy and have information about your ancestor such as name, birth date and birth parish, you can begin to research in Genlineís Swedish Church Records archive.

First you download and install Genline FamilyFinder (GFF) which allows you to search, view, and print pages from our Swedish Church Records archive. You can access the Swedish Church Records archive as a test user and demo our service. There is no cost for the demo.

When you feel comfortable as to how the service works, you can order a subscription for the Swedish Church Records archive. There are several subscriptions options you can choose but you may want to begin with a shorter subscription such as the 20-day or month subscription.

Get Started



I donít know Swedish Ė How can I research using the church records?

Many people who donít know Swedish are very successful in researching their family heritage using the Swedish Church Books. The Swedish Church Books are in Swedish but the records are mostly tables of dates, names and places. There are some key words that are used repeatedly in the church books and one only needs to become familiar with these terms. You will find many of the words in the Swedish Church Records in the online Swedish-English Dictionary & Abbreviations in our resource section.

Dictionary and Abbreviations

You will also find an extraction form that you can download for the household examination book. The extraction form gives the common Swedish column headings with the English translation.

Extraction Forms

In our resource section, you will find articles about Swedish genealogy, libraries that provide access to Genline and links to sites that provide more information about Swedish genealogy.