Snow and Swedish Research

It has been snowing here in Raleigh, such that we woke up this Boxing Day to a good 8 inches.

Not long after that, and before the coffee was even brewed, the power went out. It was out until mid-afternoon, and the first time the power company provided an estimated time to resolution, they said midnight.

There wasn’t much we could do except ensure that we had long wooden matches, so we make coffee and whatever else we might want, on the stove.

While we waited to see to see if the power would come on, I picked up the copy of Your Swedish Roots: A Step-By-Step Handbook by Per Clemensson and Kjell Andersson (Provo: Ancestry Publishing, 2004) that I bought about 18 months ago.

Clemensson and Andersson write clearly and entertainingly. They provide an excellent historical context for the Swedish emigration, which saw 1.2 million Swedes (or 20% of the population) leave the country between 1821 and 1930. This made Sweden the third European country in percentage of  population to emigrate to the New World and Oceania (behind Ireland and Norway) (p. 17). There is a very helpful chart showing the scale of the emigration from 1850 to 1962, including re-immigration back to Sweden, and noting economic and cultural conditions pushing people from Sweden and drawing them to America (pp. 22-23).

In addition to the historical background, Clemensson and Andersson provide orientation to the records of Sweden, guidance to some online resources (primarily focusing on Genline, though there are many more sites now).

Their method is to take readers step-by-step through sample research with one main family and a couple of other case studies to illustrate earlier or later research methods, opportunities, and challenges. They provide a quick explanation of Swedish names, including the patronymic as well as the nature names often taken by military men and their families, and the names of the nobility.

The book is an excellent starting point, slightly dated in terms of Internet access to records, but sound in its recommendations and methods for getting to the home country, when that home country happens to be that snowy land of Sweden. A perfect book to pick up on a snow day in Raleigh.

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