Särskilda ämnen & övrigt => Discussions in English => Swedish history => Ämnet startat av: JMKoch skrivet 2018-08-27, 02:47

Titel: Swedish Documentation in the latter 1800s
Skrivet av: JMKoch skrivet 2018-08-27, 02:47
How inclusive or complete were Swedish records of birth, marriage, residence, or emigration prior to 1900?

I have two Swedish ancestors who came to the USA.  One had a more or less "normal" origin.  But her emigration obviously involved a quest that entailed a difficult separation from her origins.  The other ancestor likely had a distressed or difficult childhood.  Both had fairly common surnames.  It is not easy to find a database "match" for either.

My question is whether Swedish records from the mid to late 19th century were any better or worse than those in the USA.  Could there be thousands, or even millions, of Swedes whose birth, marriage, residence, or emigration occurred without any official documentation, or whose documentation has yet to be indexed digitally?

In the USA, some church records date back to the 1600s.  However, they reflect only a small subset of total residents and settlers.  Some cities started municipal records of birth, marriage, and death in the late 1700s, but they may have omitted many events.  Small towns or farms had no records at all, except perhaps for gravestones, which many could not afford.

Here a Federal Census has been conducted since 1790.  However, until 1850, the data affirmed only the name of the male head of household.  Children, boarders, or slaves were identified only by number.  From 1850 onward, the information improved.  One major exception: records for 1890 were destroyed in a fire.  Also, as late as 1880, some pioneer farmers seem to have been omitted.  Perhaps the census clerks saw no purpose in a journey to visit wild and remote places whose few inhabitants would not significantly alter the population totals enough to affect apportionment of legislative seats.

The omissions in the USA records appear to have been particularly acute between 1870 and 1880.  That was precisely when my two Swedish great grandmothers came to the USA.  For one of these women, any scarcity of documents is vastly offset by my (now deceased) mother's recollections and (even color!) photos.  The other great grandma passed away in 1912 and no there were no memories, other than a terse obituary, or records other than USA census and live birth records from the 1890s and early 1900s.

Tentatively, it appears that several "Amanda Peterson" (or Persdotter) records have the Nov. 18, 1872 birthdate reported for that great grandmother.  However, they all involve multiple given names (not just "Amanda"), and there are circumstantial factors that frustrate easy linkage to the person who was my relative.

My basic question is whether a significant quotient of Swedes, born in the 1870s, or who emigrated to the USA in the 1880s, possibly obtained no official documentation whatever.  The USA continues to have residents without documents, as well as census data base only on speculative estimates.  I would not fault 19th century records for being any less challenged.  But can anyone, please, confide whether Sweden, in the late 19th century, had records that were 99%, 80%, or maybe below 70% inclusive or reliable?

If I fail to find a strong match for either ancestor, is that uncommon?

Many thanks for any comments or guidance.
Titel: SV: Swedish Documentation in the latter 1800s
Skrivet av: Klas Wallén skrivet 2018-08-27, 11:53

I would say that the Swedish late 19 th Century records are much closer to 99% than 80% when it comes to reliability. But off cource some people were missed by the authorities and others tried to stay away on purpose. I think it would be a good idea if you gave us the facts you know about your Swedish ancestors. Their names, birth yeras and places, if you know about that. Then someone here might help you find them in the records. I see that your user name is JMKoch and the surename Kock/Koch can be found in my own family. They were working as trip hammer smiths in Värmland. If you like to know more about the Swedish records I recommend that you go to and their wiki section for Sweden and Church Records. Good Luck.