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Finding ancestors in the Swedish LDS records may be an important step in building the family story. LDS records (both LDS membership records and LDS emigration records) may help in finding the place of origin in Sweden or may simply provide interesting facts about the family, their faith, and their courage.
The beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sweden
As early as 1843 at least one Swede had become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was Johan E. Forsgren (later known as John Eric Forsgren). He had joined the Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He joined the body of saints in Nauvoo, later served in the Mormon Battalion and arrived in the Great Basin as early as 1849 being among the first three Scandinavians in the Salt Lake Valley.
In the October 1849 General Conference, a number of missionaries were called to distant lands. Among them were Apostle Erastus Snow and Elder Peter O. Hansen who were called to Denmark. Elder John E. Forsgren petitioned for the opportunity to join in the work. He was called to go to Sweden.
Elder Forsgren finally reached Sweden the summer of 1850. He traveled first to Gävle, his birthplace, to teach his family about the restored Gospel. He hadn’t seen them for 20 years. John found his brother, Peter, seriously ill with tuberculosis. The doctor said nothing could be done for him. Elder Forsgren taught him about the priesthood, anointed him with oil and blessed his brother. Peter was completely healed and on 26 July 1850, Peter was baptized becoming the first Latter-day Saint convert in Sweden.
Elder Forsgren also baptized his sister a few days later. A number of other people also joined the church before Forsgren was arrested and banished (see Sweden: Religious Tolerance). Elder Forsgren served the rest of his mission in Denmark. In 1853, Anders W. Winberg and others began missionary work again in southern Sweden. Within a short time small branches were established, the first being in Skönabäck, Malmöhus, a large estate situated about 30 miles east of Malmö City and in Skurup Kommun.
Growth of the Church
The growth of the church in Sweden has been slow. In the beginning Swedish born missionaries were arrested at times and missionaries from Utah were driven out. New converts suffered persecution at the hands of some of the clergy and even from people in the communities. Still the Church grew. Members were encouraged to immigrate to Utah from its beginning up until about 1910. During the years 1850 to 1930, 8,545 members emigrated from Sweden. Membership of well established branches would dwindle due to heavy emigration and inactivity. Some branches would be dissolved and need to be reorganized. Others would combine with another nearby branch. The two world wars also affected the membership. Missionaries from the United States were sent back to the United States for the duration of both wars. Some areas lacked leadership and discontinued having public meetings, but through it all the Church has continued to grow.
The Church Today
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the year 2002 reached a membership of 8,678 (according to the 2008 Church Almanac) in Sweden. Sweden is composed of 4 stakes Göteborg, Malmö, Stockholm, and Stockholm South and has multiple wards and branches throughout the country. There is one temple in Västerhaninge, just south of Stockholm City.
L.D.S. Church Record Sources
A microfiche index (FHL #6060482)of information found in all the L.D.S. Scandinavian branch, mission and district records and was created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The information for each individual is found on an index card and could include:
• birth date and place
• parent’s names
• LDS baptism date and place
• By whom baptized
• LDS confirmation date
• By whom confirmed
• Blessing date of Infant.
• Information about priesthood callings
• Movements from one branch to another
• Emigration information
This is an alphabetical listing and it should be remembered to look under all possible phonetic spellings and that an individual may appear on more than one card for different information. A guide to the microfiche numbers can also be found in the back of volume one of “Passport to Paradise: The Copenhagen ‘Mormon’ Passenger Lists.”
An example of how to do a search in the Scandinavian L.D.S. Mission Index follows:
Let's say the ancestors name was Paulus Svedin. It was known that he was born in Sweden but after his mother joined the LDS church they had to flee to Copenhagen to enjoy religious freedom to worhip as they desired.
Start by going to the F.H.L.Catalog and do a 'Film/Fiche Search'. Type in the microfiche number #6060482. Click on any of the 'Scandinavian LDS Mission Index' links. Click on 'View Film Notes'. Scroll down to the right surname set (Between Struve and Thoresen). Swedin would be between fiche numbers 321 and 330. Paulus Svedin was found on fiche 326 as Paulus Svedin. The index showed:
- He was baptized in Carlskrona in 1875.
- His Birth place is given as 22 Jan 1859 in Carlskrona.
On another fiche his name is listed as Paulus Swedin. This gave his emigration information as 29 Sep 1887 from Copenhagen.
Record of Members, 1852-1951
LDS Membership Records are available on microfilm at the Family History Library or its centers. The record of members may include:
• Blessings of children
• Priesthood ordinations
• Minutes of meetings
• Other miscellaneous information.
Membership records can be found in the Family History Library Catalog under Sweden -- Church Records – Record of Members, 1852-1951. By clicking “view film notes” all branches and districts (conferences) will be listed alphabetically. Select the branch or district you are interested in and obtain the film number to the right. Remember the name of the branch a member attended may not be the same as where they resided.
This is a handwritten copy on 118 pages of a large ledger book probably kept by someone in the Mission Office in Denmark. This record is an alphabetical listing of the members of the Church in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden who died during the years 1852 to 1896. There are about 1,861 names for whom ordinance work was done beginning 18 Oct 1906 and finished 26 June 1907. A microfilm of the manuscript is available on FHL INTL Film # 0,041,933.
Information given includes:
• Birth date and place
• Baptism date
• Place and by whom baptized
• Endowment date and the name of the proxy
Early Church Information File
This is a microfilm copy of the Early Church Information Card Index in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is an alphabetical index of some members of the LDS Church, primarily from sources from 1830 to the mid-1900s. Sources include LDS church records, journals, biographies, cemetery records, immigration records and published books.
Other General LDS Sources There are also other general LDS sources that may be helpful in early Scandinavian research and writing of family history. These are collective sources for all membership and not just Scandinavians. For information on these sources and microfilm numbers, please see Laureen R. Jaussi and Gloria D. Chaston’s books entitled “Register of Genealogical Society Call Numbers Volumes 1 and 2 (US/CANADA Book 979.2258 A3j v. 1 and 2 – also 2 microfiches # 6031507).
The volumes include information and call numbers or microfilm numbers for the following:
• Endowment House Endowments and sealings of Couples – for the living
• Temple Index Bureau (TIB)
• LDS Church Census (Stakes and Missions) 1914-1935
• Vital Records of Utah Counties
• Obituary Card Index (1839-1970) This is an obituary Indes to Salt Lake City, Utah, newspapers and early LDS periodicals compiled by LDS Church Historical Department.
• Federal Censuses of Utah 1850, 1860, 1870
• Patriarchal Blessing Card Index, 1833-1963
• Missionary Records (1830 to 1950)
- LDS Emigration Records
- LDS Swedish Emigration
The L.D.S. records from when the mission opened in 1850 up to about 1870 tend to be incomplete. This is most likely due to the challenges of establishing a non-Lutheran religion at that time. By law the Swedish State Church was the official record keeper of births, marriages, and deaths.
1. Jenson, Andrew. History of the Scandinavian Mission. Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City. Utah. 1927.
2. Höglund, Inger and Johansson, Caj-Aage. Steg I Tro., Jesu Kristi Kyrka av Sist Dagars Heliga: Italy. 2000.
3. Anderson, Shauna C.; Manness, Ruth Ellen; Black, Susan Easton. Passport to Paradise. Genealogical Services, Utah. 2000.
4. Church Almanac 2008.