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History of the Swedish Church Records

The origin of the Swedish Church Records (of the Lutheran State Church) dates back to the church law of 1686 which became effective in 1688. [1] Prior to this many parishes were keeping church accounts books which date back to medieval times. Eventually the bishops of a few dioceses took the initiative to start keeping other church records. One such bishop was Johannes Rudbeckius in Västerås Stift who in 1622 decided that more records were to be kept for the parishes in his diocese. He is attributed for creating the earliest Household Examination record in the 1620’s. [2] This influence is why you can search the Household examinations in Dalarna and Västmanland back to the 1620’s compared to the rest of the kingdom that generally begin in the 1720’s. The oldest Swedish church record is a death record of 1608 – 1615 from the parish of Helga Trefaldighet in Uppsala diocese.


Areas of modern Sweden that historically belonged to Denmark such as Skåne and Jämtland often have church records dating back to 1646 when a similar law was passed by the Danes.
The church law of 1686 stated that the parish priest was to maintain:

These 3 records are often called Ministerial books.

He should also maintain:

In early times the household examination record might just be a Communion record. After 1895 these were replaced by the Församlingsböcker.


But there was no centralized instruction as to how the books were to be kept. This became a concern for every diocese to regulate which lead to a wide diversity of record keeping all over the kingdom. For example, moving in and out records were not generally kept before the 1800’s. Starting in 1860 we see standardized printed forms in the church records yet even these vary diocese to diocese. It wasn’t until 1894 that standard forms were used kingdom wide for the church records.

In early times it is common that all 3 Ministerial records were kept in one book called the church book (kyrkboken). Often you will find other records there too such as the Sockenstämmoprotokoll (a record of parish decisions and affairs), and the Kyrkoräkenskaper (a parish financial record). In some parishes you might find a Konfirmationsbok (confirmation record) was kept. Eventually these records became separate books altogether.

All of the original church books before 1895 have historically been kept by the Regional archives (the Landsarkiv). When there are gaps in the record collections of a parish, it is most likely that the original records did not survive (although it is always good to check the parish records for the parishes in the same pastorat to be sure.) 

Parish Record Collections

Although the record types mentioned above are used the most, they do not represent the entire parish record collection. Each parish kept additional records that may also be useful to your search. Further, there may be situations where you might need to search the Diocese record collections (especially regarding parish council decisions, permissions to marry or divorce, or even Bishop visitation records.)

The table below is a list that shows how many record types can be found in the collection of just one parish (regardless of accessibility.)


Name of Record Swedish Archive Code Jurisdiction Type of Record
Andra befintliga längder (Länger på dem som undergått kyrkoplikt, straffjournal, folkmängdsuppgifter, statistiska tabeller G Församlingar (parishes) Other existing records (records of those who have done church duty, journal of punishment, population information, statistical tables
Avgångslängder 1947 – 1991 A VI b Församlingar (parishes) add here
Avgångsregister A VI a Församlingar (parishes) add here
Bilagor och kungörelseböcker som rör kyrkobokföringen (HI motsvarar huvudavdelning A, HII huvudavdelning B, etc) H Församlingar (parishes) Supplemental and public notice books which are about the keeping of church books (HI corresponds to the main division A, HII the main division B, etc.
Böcker över obefintliga A III Församlingar (parishes) Books of the those whose whereabouts are not known
Död-och begravningsböcker F Församlingar (parishes)

Death and burial books.

To learn more about Död- och begravningsböcker see: Sweden: Death and Burial Records

Emigrantregister 1947 – 1991 A IV c Församlingar (parishes) add here
Födelse-och dopböcker C Församlingar (parishes)

Birth and christening books.

To learn more about Födelse- och dopböcker see: Sweden: Birth and Christening Records

Församlingsböcker A II Församlingar (parishes)

Parish Congregational Records (after 1894.)

To lean more about Församlingsböcker see: Swedish Congregational Records

Församlingsliggare A IV a Församlingar (parishes) add here
Församlingsregister A V Församlingar (parishes) add here
Handlingar angående prästval M Församlingar (parishes) Documentation concerning priest election
Husförhörsböcker (Katekismilängder) A I Församlingar (parishes)

Household Examinations (Catechism record.)

To learn more about Husförhörsböcker see: Sweden: Household Examination Records

In-och Utflyttningsböcker (Flyttningslängder) B Församlingar (parishes)

In and out moving books (moving books.)

To learn more about In-och Utflyttningslängder see: Swedish Moving In and Out Records

Kommunionsböcker D II Församlingar (parishes)

Communion books.

To learn more about Kommunionsböcker see: Swedish Communion Records

Konfirmationsböcker D I Församlingar (parishes)

Confirmation books.

To learn more about Konfirmationsböcker see: Swedish Confirmation Records

Kyrkoråds protokoll och handlingar K III Församlingar (parishes)

Minutes and documents of the church council. 

To learn more about the Kyrkostämmoprotokoll see: Swedish Parish Administration Records

Kyrkostämmans och kyrkofullmäktiges protokoll och handlingar K II Församlingar (parishes)

Minutes and documents of church meetings and church delegates. 

To learn more about Kyrkostämmoprotokoll see: Swedish Parish Administration Records

Lysnings-och vigselböcker E Församlingar (parishes)

Banns and marriage books.

To learn more about Lysning- och vigselböcker see: Sweden: Engagement and Marriage Records

Obefintligregister 1947 – 1991 A IV b Församlingar (parishes) add here
Personakter för avlidna och dödförklarade 1947 – 1991 A IV d Församlingar (parishes) add here
Räkenskaper for fattigvård L III Församlingar (parishes)

Accounts for the care of the poor.

To learn more about Kyrkoräkenskaper see: Swedish Church Accounts Record

Räkenskaper för kyrka L I Församlingar (parishes)

Accounts for the church.

To learn more about Kyrkoräkenskaper see: Swedish Church Accounts Record

Räkenskaper för sammandrag, granskande av kyrkostämma L VI Församlingar (parishes)

Accounts for summary, reviewing of church assemblies. Under the L series there can be subdivisions such as: a- Huvudräkning, huvudbok (main account, main book); b- Specialier (specialties); c- Utlåningsbok, skuldbok (Lending book, debt book); d- Verifikationer (verifications.)

To learn more about Kyrkoräkenskaper see: Swedish Church Accounts Record

Räkenskaper för skola L II Församlingar (parishes)

Accounts for the school.

To learn more about Kyrkoräkenskaper see: Swedish Church Accounts Record

Skolråds protokoll och handlingar utom räkenskaper K IV Församlingar (parishes) Minutes and documents of school councils excluding accounts
Skrivelser (resolutioner, utslag, memorial etc) från Kungl. Maj:t, länsstyrelser, domkapitel och andra myndigheter I Församlingar (parishes) Written Communication (resolutions, decisions, memorials, etc. from the Swedish govenment, the county government, the diocese and other authorities
Sockenstämmans (sockennämnds) protokoll och handlingar K I Församlingar (parishes)

Minutes and documents of parish meetings (Parish committee.)

To learn more about Sockenstämmoprotokoll see Swedish Parish Administration Records

Visitationshandlingar (protokoll och ämbetsberättelser) samt inventarie-och kyrkoförteckningar N Församlingar (parishes) Visitation documents (minutes and official reports) and inventory and church lists
Övriga handlingar angående kyrka och kyrkogård samt kyrkliga boställen och jord (rättegångs-, syneskiftes-, och arrendehandlingar, kartor mm). Handlingar angående prästerskapets löneförmåner, donationshandlingar och ritningar O Församlingar (parishes) Other documents concerning church and cemetery together with religious residences and property (court proceedings, probates, and lease documents, maps and other documents concerning the wage benefits, donation documents, and agendas of the clergy
Övriga handlingar och handskifter (pålysningsböcker, historiska anteckningar, mm) P Församlingar (parishes) Other documents and manuscripts (notification books, historical records, and more)
Övriga nämnders och styrelsers protokoll och handlingar K V Församlingar (parishes) Minutes and documents of other committees and boards

Missing Records

If all the records for a parish begin at a later date for example 1800, either: 1- the original records have been destroyed or 2- this parish was created in 1800 and you should be searching in another parish record collection prior to 1800.
A good reference to see what happened is: Sveriges församlingar genom tiderna. This is available in book form and online at Sveriges församlingar genom tiderna.


If the local parish records were destroyed you might check with the Diocese Archives (Domkapitel Arkiv). These collections include many records from the parishes within the diocese such as diocese instruction, parish priest replacement, church residential properties, visits to the local parish by diocese officials, and donation records.

Among the visitation records you might find copies of local records such as the communion and household examinations and seating locations within the church. When a new priest or klockare (parish clerk) was chosen an electorial register was created which can offer detailed information about the land owners and farmers within the parish or pastorat. The Domkapitel Arkiv can also include records of divorces. The older part of the Domkapitel Arkiv are stored at the Regional archives (the Landsarkiv.)

Access to Swedish Church Records

The easiest way to access the Swedish Church Records is through the internet using sites such as  SVAR, Arkiv Digital, FamilySearch, and Ancestry.com. Three of these sites require a subscription for access (Arkiv Digital and the FamilySearch Collections are available at FamilyHistory Centers.) The Genline images are available through Ancestry.com (a fee-based website) in its World Deluxe Membership subscription.

You can find microfilm and microfiche through the Family History Library, and FamilySearch Centers. The original copies of the church records before 1895 are preserved by the National and Regional Archives in Sweden.

  • FamilySearch has partnered with The National Archives of Sweden to create indexes of the Swedish church records. To learn more about these indexing efforts see: FamilySearch Indexing.

Tips

  • To see a list of the entire parish record collection (for the parish you are working in), you need to do a search in the Swedish National Archives Database called Nationell ArkivDatabas or NAD.

Notes

  1. Kyrkbokföring, Släktforska steg för steg, p. 26
  2. Wikipedia Community. Kyrkböcker. Wiki-Rötter, February, 2011

References

  • Clemensson, Per and Andersson, Kjell. Släktforska steg för steg. Falköping, Natur och Kultur/Fakta, 2005
  • Norstedt Förlagsgrupp AB. Norstedts Engelska Ord. at www.ord.se

 

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  • This page was last modified on 6 June 2013, at 19:08.
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