Maps are an important source for finding the place where your ancestors lived. Maps can help you find places, parishes, churches, geographical features, transportation routes, and proximity to other towns. Maps may be published individually or in bound collections called atlases. Maps may also be included in gazetteers, guidebooks, local histories, and history texts.
Different types of maps can help you in different ways. Historical maps describe the growth and development of countries. They show boundaries, migration routes, settlement patterns, military campaigns, and other historical information. Road maps provide detailed information about Sweden's road systems. Survey maps show townships in great detail. City and street maps are extremely helpful when researching in large cities, such as Stockholm and Göteborg.
Use maps carefully because:
- Several places have the same name. For example, there are seven parishes called Husby in present-day Sweden.
- Spelling was not standardized when most early records were made. You may find the place-name spelled differently in an old record than on a current map.
- Place-names are often misspelled in American sources. Difficult names may have been shortened and important diacritical marks omitted.
Historical Maps of Sweden
The historical maps collections of Sweden are among the best in the world. The National Survey Office (Lantmäteriet), National Archives (Riksarkivet, SVAR), and Department of War Archive (Krigsarkivet) have scanned an amazing amount of historical maps to their respective websites. As genealogists, we have a unique opportunity to use these maps in our research strategies and to enhance our family histories. For more information see the: Historical Maps of Sweden page.
Finding the Specific Town on the Map
To do successful Swedish research, you must identify the parish where your ancestor lived.
Because some parishes have the same name, you may need additional information before you can find the correct parish on a map. You will be more successful if you have some information about the parish. Before using a map, search gazetteers, histories, family records, and other sources to learn all you can about:
- The county (län) the ancestor came from.
- The parish where your ancestor was baptized or married.
- The parish where your relatives lived.
- The size of the parish.
- The occupation of your ancestor or any relatives. (This may indicate the size or industries of the area.)
- Nearby localities, such as large cities.
- Nearby features, such as rivers and mountains.
- Industries of the area.
- Other names the parish was known by.
Finding Maps and Atlases
Maps and atlases are available at many historical societies and at public and university libraries.
The Family History Library has a good collection of Swedish maps and atlases. They are listed in the catalog under SWEDEN - MAPS.
Some helpful books of maps at the Family History Library are:
Genealogical Guidebook and Atlas of Sweden: Thomsen, Finn A., 1981 (FHL book 948.5 E7) has parish outline maps
KAK bilatlas (Maps of Sweden). Stockholm, Sweden: Generalstabens Litografiska Anstalts Förlag, 1975. (FHL book 948.5 E3k.)
Svenska orter-atlas över Sverige (Swedish Topographical Dictionary and Atlas). Stockholm, Sweden: Generalstabens Litografiska Anstalts Förlag, 1932. (FHL book 948.5 E5so; films 874376-378.)
The Family History Library publication Parishes and Maps of Sweden (FHL Scand 948.5 E77p) contains county maps that outline parish boundaries. This source is also available on microfiche 6068254.
You can purchase maps of Sweden from:
P.O. Box 151
Lindsborg, KS 67456-0151