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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