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Three waves of emigration from Sweden
Some of the earliest Swedish emigration to North America took place in the 1840’s when groups under the direction of charismatic leaders, often from a single geographic area, established communities in the New World. Peter Cassel a farmer and miller from Kisa in Östergötland was typical of these figures leading a group of emigrants to found a colony in Iowa they called “New Sweden”. The religious leader, Erik Jansson from Biskopskulla in Uppland led a group of followers from Hälsingland to Illinois and founded Bishop’s Hill. A third example of this group emigration was the company of students that Gustaf Unonius brought with his family to Pine Lake in Wisconsin.
The first wave of significant movement from Sweden to the United States occurred during the 1850’s. This emigration occurred primarily from the counties of Östergötland, Blekinge, Kristianstads län, Älvsborgs län and certain parts of Småland. Many of the 14,000 Swedes who came to the U.S. during this decade prior to the Civil War settled in the upper portion of the Midwest, especially Minnesota.
The second significant wave of emigration was largely motivated by three consecutive years of crop failure in Sweden (1866—1868) and the availability of free land in the United States afforded by the Homestead Act of 1862. It extended from the end of the Civil War to the financial crisis of 1873 and involved primarily farm people. 120,000 emigrants came to America during this period. By this time, improved methods of transportation had begun to facilitate movement from Europe to America. “It was now possible to travel by steamship with American or English carriers from Liverpool to New York (also Boston and Quebec). To get to Liverpool, Swedish emigrants often traveled by boat from Göteborg (Gothenburg) Sweden to Hull (England) and then by rail across England to Liverpool.”
The third and by far most significant wave of immigration from Sweden to the United States occurred starting in 1879 and extended to the beginning of World War I. “The years 1879—1893 are usually considered to be the culmination of emigration. During these 15 years approximately 450,000 Swedes traveled over the Atlantic.”
As illustrated above, the great majority of Swedish immigrants came from the forests and farmlands of middle Sweden. Fewer came from the areas around larger cities such as Stockholm, Norrköping or Uppsala where economic opportunities were more plentiful.
Swedish Emigration Databases
Beginning in 1869 almost all emigrants were required to register with the port police prior to leaving the country (Link 4a-1) . Many traveled under arrangements made by brokers such as the Larsson Brothers & Company. These travel agents were required to register departing passengers with the port police. Emihamn is a database of passenger lists compiled from police records for Swedish emigrants departing from major Swedish ports (Göteborg, Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Helsingborg and Kalmar) between the years 1869-1950. It includes over 1.4 million names. The information is taken from the passenger lists established by the agents and sent to the local police chambers. These lists in Sweden are archived in the Provincial Archives (Landsarkiven).
Note: if emigrants did not go through these agents or if they left Sweden from another port, their names may not be included in this database. This register generally includes the passenger's name, occupation/title, age at the time of emigration, birthplace or place of current residence, county, destination, and date of emigration, among other information. It is useful as a resource for genealogists who know their ancestor's name and date of emigration, but do not know the ancestor's birthplace.
The Emihamn database includes information on emigrants leaving from the following ports:
Two other emigrant databases have the same name (Emibas). Both include emigration data taken from Swedish Church records. These records contain the following information: name, title/occupation, gender, birth date, birth parish, marital status, place of residence, date of emigration and destination. The detail contained in these records, makes it easier to identify individuals as your ancestors. Also, the source citations provide references to the Swedish Church records, helping you to find more information about your ancestors.
Starting in 1996, the original Emibas database included only emigration information extracted from 37,000 church records in the city of Göteborg. Others were later added from the county of Värmland. These records were included as part of the original “Emigranten-CD” which was published as a 2-CD set in 1996 with an update released in 2001. The 2006 release of this CD includes the Göteborg and Värmland records and appears under the new title of “Emigranten Populär 2006”
Emigranten Populär 2006
Swedish CD-ROM (Produced by the Göteborgs-Emigranten/Emigrantregistret i Karlstad)
This is a new edition of the former “Emigranten-CD” (The Swedish Emigrant) containing source material from passenger lists containing the names of over 1.5 million emigrants from Sweden, primarily to North America. It is the result of a cooperative effort between the Emigrant Registry in Karlstad (Emigrantregistret I Karlstad) and the Emigration Research Project in Göteborg (Forskningsprojektet Göteborgs-Emigranten).
The original “Emigranten-CD” was published as a 2-CD set in 1996 with an update released in 2001. While new information has been added to the new Emigranten Populär CD 2006 version, there are some elements of the original CD that have been eliminated:
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- SAKA is a list of the church records in the Swedish American Lutheran Church Archives. (The records of the Swedish-American Lutheran churches are also available on microfilm through the Swenson Swedish Research Center. The Swenson Center, located at Augustana College, is a national archives and research institute providing resources for the study of Swedish immigration to North America, the communities the immigrants established, and the role the immigrants and their descendants have played in American life.
Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center
639 38th Street
Rock Island IL 61201-2296
Emigranten Populär 2006 is only available in Swedish and may be ordered through a number of websites including www.goteborgs-emigranten.com, http://genealogi.netrix.se/shop and www.ancestorsswedish.com. It can also be accessed through www.Ancestry.com under “Swedish Emigration Records 1783--1951”.
For those who don't have version 1 of the CD-EMIGRANTEN it is possible to buy CD 1-2/2001-American version for $190.00. Purchase can be made through the Forskningsprojektet Göteborgs-Emigranten at www.goteborgs-emigranten.com or by fax +46 31 209 902 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The New) “Emibas 2008”
A cooperative effort between the Swedish Emigrant Institute in Växjö (Svenska Emigrantinstitutet i Växjö – SEI) and the Swedish Genealogical Society (Svensk Släktforskarförbund) has collected emigrant information from Swedish church book records (Household Examination – husförhörslängder and Moving-Out records utflyttningslängder) from over 2,300 parishes. Data includes name, date and place of birth, title, gender, social standing, last parish of residence, emigration date, destination and comments. Containing records of over 1.1 million emigrants, these figures represent 75% of all Swedes who emigrated between 1845 and 1930. Searchable using several parameters, the CD is in both English and Swedish.
The new Emibas may be ordered through a number of websites including http://genealogi.netrix.se/shop and www.ancestorsswedish.com.
Indexes to passenger lists (of emigrants leaving Sweden)
Indexes to Göteborg and Malmö passenger lists
These exist for the years 1869-1951 for Göteborg and 1874-1939 for Malmö. These indexes are on microfilm at the Family History Library. Also, beginning in 1869 for Göteborg and 1874 for Malmö, the Family History Library has annual lists for each of the above ports through the years 1951 and 1939, respectively. This is a good source to check if you searched the Swedish emigration databases, but did not find your ancestor there.
Emigrantlistor 1869-1920 (Stockholm, Sweden)
This contains emigrant lists of people who left Sweden from the port of Stockholm City.
Personregister till Norrköpings poliskammares Emigrantlistor 1860 - 1921
This is an index to emigration records of persons emigrating from Norrköping City to foreign countries, mostly to North America.
Personregister över invandrare från Sverige till New York 1851-1869
This is an index of emigrants from Sweden to New York, 1851-1869. The source used was the passenger lists of vessels arriving at New York, ser. 237, of the National Archives, U.S. The original index is in Göteborgs Landsarkiv. Be sure to check the listing in the beginning of the letters. For example Jansson, Johansson, Jonsson, Jonasson, Jönsson, are all listed together, but sometimes are listed separately. Note: The date given in these records is the date of arrival in New York and is not the date the ship sailed from Göteborg, Sweden.
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