Birth and Christening Records for Swedish Genealogy

Are you looking for the birth information of an ancestor in Sweden? The kingdom of Sweden has some of the most comprehensive records for genealogy in the world.  Beginning in 1686 every birth and christening was to be recorded by the local parish regardless of religious affiliation. By law all infants were to be christened within 8 days after birth. An emergency christening could be performed if they thought the child might die before getting to the church.


How do you find a birth / christening date?


1. Choose an online provider to access the Swedish church records. The following providers have birth and christening records online:


    Arkiv Digital:  subscription, free access in a FamilySearch Center, images in color, easy navigation


    Riksarkivet SVAR: subscription, images in greyscale from microfilm, easy navigation


    FamilySearch:  lds account access, images in greyscale from microfilm, less easy navigation


    Ancestry:  subscription, images in grayscale from microfilm, less easy navigation


2. After you find the online collection for a parish, choose the record type called Födde or Födelse och dopbok (Birth Record.)


3. Browse to the table of contents and find the page number for the births. Navigate to the desired page.


4. Get used to the format and look for key words (see key words list below.)


5. If you know the date, look for the year, month, and date.


6. If you don’t know the date, search each entry looking for the names of the child, or the parents.


What will you find in Swedish birth / christening records?


Should Include:

  • Date of birth (depending how the record was kept)
  • Date of christening (depending how the record was kept)
  • The first and last name of the father
  • The first and last name of the mother (depending how the record was kept)
  • The parents place of residence at the time of the birth
  • The first and last names and residence of the godparents (who may or may not be related to the child)

May Include:

  • Entry number
  • The name of the woman who held the infant over the baptismal font
  • Date of the mothers re-introduction into society (usually about 6 weeks after the birth)
  • The mothers age ( beginning about 1750)
  • A running total number of males and females born in a given year


Additional Information


    • There was no standard format of how the record was kept until 1894. Sometimes the father’s name is given and the mother’s was left out. You may find the record shows a christening date but no birth date.


    • Birth and christenings were generally kept in the same book as the marriages, and burials. Most of the time there is a specific section of a book. Other times the priest kept an ongoing record of all services (births, marriage, deaths) in a chronological order.


  • If you do not find the birth entry:

– Check the birth records of the other parishes in the same pastorat.
– Check the parish accounts book. Usually the father paid a fee at the time of the christening. The fee might be recorded in the donations/income record.


    • Swedish archive letter for birth records: C


    • The dates were usually recorded in the order of: day, month, year


  • Sometimes the christening date was recorded according to the religious “feast day” such as Ascensionis Domini (in latin) or Kristi himmelsfärdsdag (Swedish) which converted to May 9 in 1771. If you need to convert a feast day see: Moveable Feast Day Calendar for: Sweden in the FamilySearch Wiki.


Key Words


Here are some common words that are seen in Swedish birth and christening records. The birth entry will also include the marital status of the parents, place names, and maybe the occupation of the father. If the word is not on this list, try to find it in the Swedish Historical Dictionary Database, SHDD


absolutionreceiving forgiveness of sins
afof, from
anteckningarnote, annotation
barn (barnet)child, infant (the child)
christnades(was) baptized, christened
denthat, the
desspossessive of den, det
Dom., Dominica (latin)Sunday (the Lord’s day)
dop, döpelse, döpt, döptas, döpte, döptesvarious uses of the word “dop” = baptism
dopbokbaptismal book (record)
dopnamnchristian name
dop-vittnenwitness to christening
ett, enone
fader, far, faderenfather, sire, (the) father
fadder, faddrar, faddrarnevarious uses of the word ”fadder” = godparent
födas, född, födde, föddes, födelse, födtvarious uses of the word ”födelse” = birth
församlingparish, congregation
föräldrar, föräldrarneparents
heta, heterto be called
Hustru, Hu.Wife, spouse (abbrev. Hu. )
iin, at, to, upon
kalla, kallatto call, to name, was called
kyrkotagningchurching (received to the parish)
kön (man-, qvin-)sex, gender (male, female)
moder, moderenmother, (the) mother
namn, namnetname, (the) name
nöd-döptbaptism in case of necessity, or emergency
och, ockand
oäkta barnIllegitimate child, bastard child
piga, pigan, pig.maid, maidservant (abbrev. Pig.)
ståndstate, class, rank
susceptrix (latin)person who held the infant over the baptismal font
testes (latin)witness
utisee i
vittne, vittnenwitness, (the) witness
år, åhryear
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Swedish Sailor’s Home (Sjömanshus)


With the Baltic Sea to the east, and the North Sea to the south west, there is a good chance that someone in your Swedish ancestry was a sailor. There are many records associated to sailors. Båtsmän were sailors in the Swedish navy and the military kept track of enlisted personnel. But what about sailors on ships for trade and distribution?

It can be difficult to follow a sailor in the church records because of the constant traveling from one place to another. In this case you can look in the records of the Sailors Home (Sjömanshus.)

The first sailors’ home in Sweden was created in Stockholm in 1748. The purpose was to care for sailors who were too old or otherwise unable to work. In 1753 a sailors home was founded in Göteborg. Eventually they were established in all Swedish ports that had rights for international trade. In 1796 there were 38 international ports in Sweden and Finland. Over time the government became involved with the sailors’ homes, but there was no legal requirement to have a sailor’s home in a Swedish international port until 1864. Altogether there have been about 50 sailor’s homes.

A sailor would register with the sailor’s home at the “home port” and make donations with the agreement to eventually receive retirement care. The records of the sailors’ homes have been preserved in the regional archives. The earlier registration records have less information. In later years you will find the sailors name, birth year, birth place, social standing, place of residence, registration numbers, and when they ended active employment.

The easiest way to search these records is through ArkivDigital as they have digitized sjömanshus records from 37 cities. FamilySearch has a few sjömanshus collections on microfilm. Otherwise you will need to contact a regional archive to do a search for you.

There are some databases that were created from sjömanshus records which may help. The Sjömanshus (also called Sjöfolk) database is available through Riksarkivet SVAR by subscription at It has information from the sailors’ homes in Härnösand, Gamlakarleby, Västervik, Hudiksvall, Söderhamn, Gävle, Karlskrona, Oskarshamn, Visby and Örnsköldsvik.
The Demographic Database of Southern Sweden (DDSS) has a Sjömanshus database for Karlskrona for the years between 1871 and 1937 available at:

* Clemmensson, Per & Kjell Andersson. Släktforska vidare. Natur och Kultur/LTs förlag, Falköping 2003 p. 126

* Riksarkivet, Specialsök: Sjömanshus (sjöfolk) at, Stockholm 2014

* Image from: Arkiv Digital, Sjömanshuset i Karskrona EXII:1 (1836-1908), AID: v490445.b8

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Swedish Genealogy in Cities

Chances are at some point you will find a Swedish ancestor that lived in a city. You’ll find that genealogical research in cities is different than in rural areas. The parish was still responsible to keep the vital records of birth, marriage, and death, but there are unique differences due to city life. This article will help you understand those differences and offer some resources to find your ancestors in the cities.

Historically the largest cities in Sweden have been Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö, and Norrköping. When you rank the cities by size, you’ll find the order of largest to smallest varies according to time period. Stockholm was the largest city beginning in the late 1500’s and has been ever since. Before 1850 Stockholm and Göteborg were the only cities with a population over 20,000. Between 1850 and 1930 the population of Stockholm increased to 500,000, and Göteborg to about 250,000. In the same time period Malmö breaks 100,000 and Norrköping hits about 70,000.



Life in the Cities

Life in cities is built upon manufacture, distribution, and trade. In Sweden the government controlled the privileges of a town or city to participate in these activities. All the larger cities were ports for trade. These cities also had a stronger military presence.
The cities had a wider diversity of people from other countries. These people brought other languages, traditions, naming customs, and religions. Although Sweden had the Lutheran state church, they allowed other groups of people to practice their respective faith. As the natural resources and opportunities vary by location, you find that towns and cities became known for certain products.



Challenges of Research in Cities

There are many challenges to finding your ancestor in the cities. Here are some of the big ones:

Population Size

Simply put, the larger the community.. the harder to find the person that you’re looking for. Sometimes in the larger cities, it can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Every city started out as a small village. Over time people moved to the cities for opportunities. Once in a city, a person might move for a better job or better housing. Workers in cities were not tied to the land. There was job stability and in-stability. Many workers had to renew an annual contract. Relocation was common, and just like today having connections was important. All these situations lead to the questions of “where did this person come from?” or “where did they go to?”

The Church in the Cities
A priest in the Swedish Lutheran church was responsible for keeping birth, marriage, and death records for all the people that lived within their parish boundary. These are called Territorial parishes because they have a geographic boundary. In the larger cities, there are congregations that gather for other reasons such as language, or the military. These parishes are called Non-territorial parishes because there isn’t a geographic boundary within the city. In most cases there is a city parish (Stadsförsamling) for people who lived in the city, and a rural parish (Landsförsamling) for the people who lived near the city.

Because there were so many people to keep track of, the parish priest and his staff struggled to keep accurate household examination and moving records. As the population increased and the number of members within a parish increased, the diocese would split the older parish to create a new parish. Statistically there were higher rates of illegitimate births in the cities. This was especially true between 1778 and 1917 when a mother could give birth anonymously. Residency in the records is listed by Rote (like a neighborhood), streets, or even households within a building.

Naming customs
After moving to the city, many people changed their surname for practical reasons. There were too many people with similar names. To change a surname was easy, just start using it. Over time your new surname would become what you’re known by with your friends, family, employer, on the church records, and with tax authorities. The challenge is finding what the patronymic surname was before moving to the city. Also, there was a wider variety of given names in the cities, many of which came from other countries.

There were many situations that led a child to the orphanage. It could be the death of parents, a single parent unable to provide for a child, or a temporary situation of failing health, or imprisonment. Whatever the case, children were taken to orphanages for care. All cities were required to have an orphanage according to the law of 1624. There were public and private orphanages. See the article Orphanages in Sweden on the FamilySearch Wiki.




The larger cities had an increased military presence made up of professionals, and non-professionals in the army or navy. They lived in military quarters and belonged to military church congregations. The question is “where did they come from” and after their service “where did they go to?”

Records in Cities

There are many records available to search for your ancestor in a Swedish city. Here is a short list:


Here are some resources for genealogical research in Swedish Cities:







  • Indexes for parishes in PDF,  through Stockholm Stadsarkiv website at: Kyrkoarkiv



  • 1926-1939 Överståthållarämbetet,  available through Arkiv Digital.





  • Index of Marriages for Kristine parish 1624 – 1774, FHL Intl book 948.69/G1 H2b v.3


  • Rådhusrätt register 1719 – 1798, FHL microfilm Intl 216069 – 216070








  • Tax records index for all tax obligated 1727-1945 at the Norrsköping Stadsarkiv. Contact the archive for assistance.



Resources for Other Cities

1. PLF (Person-och Lokalhistoriskt Forskarcentrum) on CD for all cities in Småland (Jönköping, Kalmar, and Kronoberg Counties.) These include: Borgholm, Eksjö, Gränna, Huskvarna, Jönköping, Kalmar, Oskarshamn, Vimmerby, Västervik, and Växjö


2. Demografisk Databas Södra Sverige (DDSS) for Skåne (Malmöhus, Kristianstad), Blekinge, and Halland Counties. These include entries from birth, marriage, and death records of: Båstad, Helsingborg, Höganäs, Karlskrona, Kristianopel, Kristianstad, Malmö, Ronneby, Vä, Ystad, Åhus, and Ängelholm. Within DDSS there is the Halland Marriage Database that will help for the cities of Falkenberg, Halmstad, Kungsbacka, Laholm, and Varberg.


3. Indiko (Demografiska databasen Umeå universitet) for Linköping, Skellefteå, and Sundsvall.


4. Födda, Vigda, Döda i Ådalen, CD available at FHL or can be purchased through Riksarkivet for Härnösand and Sollefteå.


5. Register of births, marriages, and deaths in Jämtland 1642-1860 on, 1686-1875 on microfilm INTL 1644180 for Östersund.

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Interpreting Dates in the Swedish Parish Records

Every event in the Swedish parish records has a day, month, and year to show when the event took place (for example, when a christening was performed.) The challenge is to find the date and interpret it correctly. To help you with dates in the records, I’ve put together a few tips:



  • In Sweden they record time in the order of day, month, and year.



  • In the household examination records you will find the day and month are often written in a way that looks like a fraction in math with the day written above the month such as 15/4 to mean the 15th of April.



  • The month might be written Latin such as Maius instead of Maj.



  • The birth, marriage, and death records were usually kept in chronological order. Most times the year is only written once by the month of January.



  • Sometimes you’ll find the order was recorded by the liturgical year (the church year) that began with Advent instead of January.



  • The Swedish government transitioned from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar over a period of years. They started in 1700 (sometimes called the Swedish calendar), but switched back to the Julian in 1712 (oddly the month of February in 1712 had 30 days.) They continued with the Julian calendar until 1753.



  • On February 18, 1753 the Swedish government switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.



  • Sometimes you will find the date of event was written using a Feast Day instead of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. This is especially common in areas that used to belong to Denmark such as Malmöhus, Kristianstad, Halland, or Blekinge. For example the date of a marriage might be written as 5 p. Epiphania in 1773.



  • There are Fixed Feast Days like Christmas (on the same day every year) and Moveable Feast Days such as Easter (on a different day from year to year.)



  • Generally the Moveable Feast Days were on Sundays, and most christenings, marriages, and burials were performed on Sundays. So it’s more common to see Moveable Feast Days in the birth, marriage, and death records.







I hope these tips help you in your Swedish genealogical research.
Happy researching!

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Orphanages in Sweden

I wrote an article for the FamilySearch Wiki about Orphanages in Sweden. In summary the Swedish State Church had responsibility for this need until the 1600’s. Beginning in 1619 a law was passed that city administrators throughout the kingdom should create an orphanage to reduce begging. In 1624 another law was passed that stated that every province and city should create an orphanage.


Some of the earliest orphanages include Joachim Firbrandts correctional facility / orphanage (1624 – 1630) on Gråmunkholm in Stockholm, Stora Barnhus Stockholm (1638 – 1785), Lidköping barnhus (1675 – 1830), and Malmö barnhus (1682 – 1890.)
In the 1700’s the rate of illegitimacy increased. Orphanages were established throughout the kingdom including Lidköpings Barnhus (1675 – 1830), Göteborgs Stads Barnhus (1737 – 1999), Frimurarbarnhus Stockholm – private (1753 – 1940), Politibarnhus Stockholm (1754 – 1785), Murbeckska stiftelsen (1754 – 1920), Frimurarbarnhuset Göteborg – private (1756 – present), Gustavianska Barnhus Norrköping – private (1772 – ), Östads Barnhus Östad Säteri near Alingsås – private (1774 -1978), Gustafsbergs Barnhus Uddevalla – private (1776 – 1924), and Allmänna Barnhus Stockholm (1785 – 1960.)

With the municipal reform of 1862, the responsability for the poor in a parish was transferred to the municipalities (Kommun.) By this time additional institutions called Barnhem for the care for children were created all over the kingdom. The barnhem were intended to be a place where children who had difficult circumstances at home would be raised. These difficult circumstances could be due to death of parents, challenges with divorce, sickness, or life with a single parent. Whatever the situation, a child could be taken to barnhem with the hope for a better life.
Additional information can be found on the Orphanages in Sweden page of the FamilySearch Wiki. That page has a Historical Timeline of Orphanages in Sweden, a Researching an Orphan Case Study, along with tables that list orphanages and barnhem throughout the kingdom. If you have questions about this subject, or insights to improve the content, you can contact me through the Talk page on the Orphanages in Sweden page or leave a comment in this Blog.

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