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Tracing Your Swedish Ancestry
A Guide To Researching Swedish Roots in America, Canada and Sweden
 More of this Feature
• Introduction
• Research in America
     Personal Documents
     Public Documents
• Research in Sweden
     Parish Records
     Court/Civil Records
     Emigration Records
     Research Difficulties
     Swedish Archives
     Swedish Societies
     Research Centers
 Related Resources
• Swedish Genealogy Links
• Census Records
• Immigration & Emigration
• Planning a Research Trip
• U.S. Naturalization
• U.S. Vital Records

 From Other Guides
• History of Sweden
• Sweden Maps & Geography
• Sweden Travel Planner
• Swedish Newspapers

 Elsewhere on the Web
• Swedish Information Service

With each passing year, more and more tourists, many Americans and Canadians, visit Europe. Those of Swedish origin take the opportunity to visit the land of their ancestors, many of them hoping to find the original parish, city or farm from which their immigrant ancestor came. Many are successful in their quest. They are able to locate the source of their origin - the medieval church where their ancestors worshiped, the city streets that they walked, or the old farm or cottage where they lived. Some are even fortunate enough to locate distant relatives with whom they have been able to re-knit bonds of kinship.

Others who make the trip, perhaps the first and only such journey of their lives, also hope to find something concerning their ancestors. Having arrived in Sweden, however, they find that they do not have the information necessary to identify any ancestral places with certainty, much less finding any living relatives. The journey, perhaps begun on a high note of expectancy, becomes fraught with frustration and disappointment at the visitor attempts in vain to recollect or reconstruct the name of the parish of the ancestor's birth, the port of embarkation or even the surname of the ancestor.

North Americans planning a visit to the land of their forebears spend many hours and even days in preparation for the journey. They equip themselves with the latest luggage, the necessary clothing, the finest of cameras and adequate funds. They read illustrated travel guides concerning Sweden, they trace their travel routes on Swedish maps and they discuss hotels and sightseeing with their travel agent. In fact, many plan their itinerary in minutest detail, with one glaring exception - they fail to ground themselves sufficiently in their family's background. At best, their information is sketchy, incomplete and, at times, even faulty. Thus, when they arrive in Sweden, they are often stunned to find that the problem is much more complex than anticipated. Having learned that the original immigrant came from Stockholm, they learn that Stockholm and its environs contain dozens of parishes. They learn that such places as Småland or Dalarna or Värmland are extensive areas that contain a multitude of parishes, each with its own records and history. Unless endowed with extraordinary luck, such travelers will not attain one of the goals of their visit; but, instead, will return home disappointed that their pilgrimage of the heart did not produce what they had hoped.

Any search by Americans for ancestors in Sweden must, therefore, being on American soil. Hence the search becomes a two-fold project - one dealing with the family in the United States or Canada and the other with the family in Sweden. The Swedish portion cannot be properly researched until the American segment is known. Keep in mind as you go that the foremost problem to be solved is to document the immigrants origin in Sweden. Once this has been done, the rest of the task should be fairly easy. Sweden, with its excellent archives, will offer many opportunities to continue the chase there. With ordinary luck you should be able to go back two hundred years in your family history. With a little patience and perseverance, you should be able to extend this period backward in time another one hundred years.


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