By Wilma Larson
So this is America! The year is 1869 and Carl Olsson has just arrived in New York after leaving his homeland, parents, and siblings in Värmland, Sweden. He is twenty-one years old and has come alone. This has been a big undertaking for him since prior to this he has always lived at home with his family and worked on his father’s small rented farm. His father’s farm was located in the western part of Sweden where farming was difficult due to it being a forested area with rocky soil. Added to that was the fact that the harvests for the past three years have been bad and food has been scarce. Now Carl stands in America with high hopes of making a better future for himself.
Carl Olsson is headed to Kansas. Perhaps Kansas was enticing to him because he would not have to clear the land of trees and the soil was rich and without rocks. He would be given a homestead and own his own land – a dream hard to realize in old Sweden. He would experience a humble life in the beginning on the prairie and different challenges lay ahead such as clearing the grass, grasshoppers, wind and tornados but he was accustomed to hard work and would meet all obstacles. Carl’s letters written home were most likely favorable to the new land as his parents and siblings joined him the following year in Kansas.
Carl Olsson’s story is quite typical of what was going on with many emigrants from Sweden. Over 1.2 million people emigrated and came to the USA and Canada during the years 1845 to 1930, roughly 20 percent of the Swedish population. Because of this millions of people in the United States now have some Swedish heritage in their pedigrees. Many have been in the United States now for generations and are asking questions about their ancestry. Where did Grandpa come from and why did he come? Are there still relatives in Sweden? Who were Grandma’s parents and is their home still standing?
In order to help the beginning researcher find answers to their questions about their Swedish ancestors, Family Search is teaching a workshop at the National Genealogical Society Conference that will be held April 28 to May 2, 2010 in the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. The workshop is designed to empower the beginning or intermediate researcher to find their Swedish ancestors. The content of the workshop will be presented using the case study of Carl Olsson from Värmland, Sweden. Carl Olsson will be followed in America to reveal the information available. This will show the Swedish American research process. Many sources are usually required to be able to find the place of origin in Sweden. Key Swedish American sources will be shown with information found for Carl Olsson.
The next step in the research process is to find the ancestor in the Swedish Emigration records. Sweden has produced some excellent electronic databases. Carl Olsson will be found in the electronic databases and by doing so the exact place of last residency will be found – right down to the name of the farm.
Finding the locality is a gigantic step in Swedish research. The Swedish State Lutheran Church has kept excellent records but these are of no use unless you know the exact parish where the person lived.
Now having the locality of Carl Olsson, the next step of the Swedish Research Strategy is to follow Carl from birth to death through the church record known as the household examination record. The case study will go through 14 documents in this process. Instructional information will also be presented as the documents are examined.
The next step in the process is to verify the information found in the household examination records with the original birth, marriage, or death records. The original birth record of Carl, his parent’s marriage, and death of a brother will be discussed and principles concerning the use of these documents will be presented. This will complete information on one generation (family).
The next step in the research strategy is to move to the next generation and repeat the steps of going through all household examinations and then verify all information found.
A discussion on the databases and websites available on line will conclude the workshop and will round out the participants knowledge of Swedish research.
Two hours will be spent in the Family History Library helping all participants with their own individual Swedish research. Participants should leave encouraged and empowered to go forward on their own with their Swedish research.