Genealogy Research
In 2009 I began digging into the history of my family. Having most of it in Sweden I am indeed fortunate, few other countries (if any) can boast of publicly accessible records dating back to mid 17th century for virtually the entire population. While this was once motivated by taxation and drafting people for military service, it is today an unparallelled resource for genealogy research.
While details of my research is available online for closer relatives, I do not present it publicly for everyone. Enough to say that connections traverse all layers of society, and if you consider yourself kin, please contact me for more information. I will not give any specific details about individuals here, only a coarse overview of research and resources.

There are already lots of excellent introductions on how to get started with genealogy, as well as quite a few not so excellent, so no reason for me trying to add what is readily available. I will just urge you to scrutinize your sources, make sure you can always reference an original document to support your conclusions and never, ever trust anything you find on the internet (no, not me either!). There is so much wishful thinking and uncritical acceptance out there. Also, just because a source is of venerable age it is not necessarily reliable. Verify against multiple sources whenever possible.

Generally I have a strong preference for printed matter sources, even in today's global and digital world. The reason for this is spelled referencing. Always when you cite or reference a book of a certain edition, the reference will stay valid and accessible for other researchers to learn from or dispute with other interpretations. If your only reference is a link to a website there is no telling what will be under that link next time someone looks. Version-handled sites exists, but are quite rare.

One of my major population groups, mainly on my mother's side but also some on my fathers, are Forest Finns. These were capable settlers, used to break new land with few years interval. They prospered in Sweden until industry began to claim the forests for themselves, and in the colonial America where they made up a substantial part of the Swedish colony in Delaware. More in depth information is available in links below, and links from those pages. There you will also find a color copy of the background image.
  1. Wikipedia
  2. New Sweden emigration
  3. The Swedish Colonial Society

This is a group that has attracted many researchers, and I am fortunate in the availability of a lot of literature in addition to the official records, which are sometimes cumbersome to decipher. 17th century handwriting is not always obvious.

Another easily distinguished group are priests, which occur mainly on my father's side but there are some on my mother's side as well. This was in many cases an inherited profession, and also among lower class nobility it was quite customary to send one son to the military and the next to the church. In addition to official records, the church itself kept records of their members. While extremely useful, these so called Herdaminnen (literally "Shepherds memories") are not always completely reliably. The church had as much reason as the next man to dress up some peoples reputation. But there is significant serious research on this subject as well.
A fairly complete list of available literature is available, but only in Swedish.
  1. Wikipedia

For soldiers there a many records preserved. But following a forefather can still be very difficult, since Swedish army in most cases replaced the family name of the soldier with short and catchy names like "Krut" (gunpowder), Svärd (Sword) or the name of his residence from the allotment system. This is further explained in the link below. While soldiering is a profession that was inherited as many others, mortality was high and sometimes extreme, so in many cases they had never time to form a family.
  1. Swedish Allotment System

I have a number of smiths in the family, again mainly on my father's side. In the early industrial Sweden, forges were small communities of their own, where profession was often inherited and marriages were made within the group. Again, this has attracted a number of researchers producing a lot of literature as well as ongoing databases on partly voluntary basis.
  1. Smith research
  2. Gränsfors bruk, an example of a still existing forge

For most of the above, sources end in 17th century. In some lucky cases you can follow the "common man" further as far as into 16th or even 15th century, but rarely further. Should you be lucky enough to hit nobility this all changes. Nobility documented their ancestry extensively already in their lifetime (and many cheated to achieve higher status), these records are available to use today. Significant research efforts have gone into making them a reliable source, and it is in some cases possible to follow these families into early medieval time, say 13th century. As nobility almost always married within nobility, once you are in you will find yourself related to quite a few of them.
  1. The House of Nobility

Nobility sometimes transcends into royalty. This is nothing to boast over, most people living today are somehow related to royalty. The problem is to find the documentation to prove it, a lot has gone lost over the centuries. Should you succeed you will find there is nothing more inbred than royalty, you are related to most of them. Even if royalty is documented more extensively than anything else, reasonably reliable sources end a few generations before Charlemagne, say 6th century. On the net I have seen tables going back much further, but be wary of those. I have even seen people claiming descent from Adam, Eve and Odin - at the same time. At least from a theological point of view that is an interesting statement. Some of the most commonly quoted references are as follows, the online one of the few version-handled, and with excellent references to original sources. Needless to say, they disagree on many issues, a reason as good as any to exclude said references, or at least verify them against yet another source.
  1. Europäische Stammtafeln
  2. Medieval Lands

In addition to all those honest, hard-working, venerable people, you must also be prepared to find cheaters, scoundrels, criminals and generally unpleasant people. I know I have. Whether you want to know more about them or not is your choice, but criminal records are certainly the most preserved of any, worldwide. No evil deed goes undocumented. So you can find out a lot here. Maybe more than you want to.
Anyone researching Sweden will find a lot of US emigrants. This is especially true for 2nd half of 19th century, even if my earliest relative emigrated already 1654. The US registers vary greatly in quality, and some are lost completely due to fire. But there is enormous activity among people researching their background, and generally this community is very helpful. You will find many resources to help you over the Atlantic. As for myself I have followed only the closest emigrants where I have direct descent. In some cases I have made contact with living descendants, in others this is still to happen. I maintain a few "emigrant trees" online using the site, working as "honeypots". Feel free to have a look.
  1. Kjellgren-Andersdotter Tree
  2. Olsson-Jonsdotter Tree
  3. Boren-Snitt Tree
  4. Snitt Tree
  5. Andersson-Nilsdotter Tree
  6. Olsson-Andersdotter Tree

Despite the comparatively good documentation, you will experience what seem like dead ends. This can be due to unmarried mothers that do not want to give up the father, more sinister reasons or simply lost documentation. DNA analysis may assist you here, given that there is a sufficient database of already tested people to compare against. Certainly there may be integrity issues with leaving your DNA to some private company that may or may not pass it on to various government agencies, but this is a decision any user will have to face. I have actually tested twice, once for helping research on migration in pre-historic times, and once to try to locate voids in my tree. I recommend reading up on the subject before testing, things are usually not so crystal clear as TV forensic shows like CSI would have us believe. The mutation rate is for example an often overlooked issue.
  1. GenoGraphic
  2. FamilyTreeDNA

Good Luck!