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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. See FSWiki article: Sweden: L.D.S. Emigration
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.
See FSWiki article: Sweden: Timeline of the L.D.S. Church
L.D.S. Record Sources
- Scandinavian L.D.S. Mission Index
- Records of Members, 1852 - 1951
- Records of deceased members of the Scandinavian Mission up to March 1, 1895.
- Early Church Information File
- Sweden: L.D.S. Branches and Wards
- Sweden: L.D.S. Conferences, Districts, and Stakes
The L.D.S. records from when the mission opened in 1850 up to about 1870 are known 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. Look for your ancestors birth, marriage, or death in the parish records where they resided at the time of the event.
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.