Source Information Sweden, Indexed Death Records, 1840-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.
Original data: Swedish Church Records Archive. Johanneshov, Sweden: Genline AB. Images for 1944-1947 provided courtesy of ArkivDigital.

About Sweden, Indexed Death Records, 1840-1947

This database contains indexed death records from the Sweden Church Records collection from 1840 to 1947. The collection consists of SCB records for the years 1860-1947. While the collection for 1881–1947 is fairly complete, the database contains only selected records for 1840–1880.

A 1686 royal decree in Sweden required ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sweden to record births, marriages, deaths, and other happenings on a parish level. Records in this database were created by Statistics Sweden (SCB), a government agency established in 1858 that extracted and transcribed birth, marriage, and death information from parish record books from 1860 to 1941, including a large number of these death records.

Records may provide the following details

  • name
  • date of birth
  • date and place of death
  • gender
  • father’s name
  • mother’s name
  • spouse’s name

Children often have parents listed. Married women may have spouse listed, even if he has pre-deceased her.

About Swedish Church Records

Many of these records stem from a royal decree in 1686 requiring ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sweden to record births, marriages, deaths, and people who moved in and out of the parish and to perform household examinations every year. The amount of information varies from book to book, from parish to parish, and from year to year.

More recent records in the collection include parish books from approximately 1896 onward, as allowed by the Swedish confidentiality act. In some cases, church records have been complemented with records kept by Statistics Sweden Statistiska Centralbyrån (SCB), a government agency. The transcribed SCB material is not as complete as the actual Swedish church books, and sometimes information such as a burial date, appointment of a godfather, or cause of death is missing. The collection includes SCB death records from 1930 to 1941 and SCB extracts from parish books for 1930.

SCB birth records from 1880 to 1920 have now been indexed in the Sweden, Indexed Birth Records, 1880-1920 collection, making it even easier to find the ancestors you're looking for.

About Swedish Names

Researchers should know some characteristics of Swedish names and that many Swedes changed their name after emigration.

The patronymic naming system, which is based on the father’s name, was common in Sweden up to the end of the 19th century, with between 90 and 95 percent of the population using it. If the father’s name was Sven Johansson, for example, his son’s name might be Magnus Svensson (Magnus the son of Sven). Similarly, a daughter might be named Kerstin Svensdotter (Kerstin the daughter of Sven). When a woman married, she did not adopt her husband’s name; she kept her own patronymic.

Surnames, or family names, were used by the nobility, the clergy, and some townspeople. Members of the nobility adopted family names, some of which could be traced back to coats of arms. However, less than 1 percent of the population was nobility.

Many of the clergy adopted names with Greek or Latin endings such as -ander (meaning “man” or “man from”) or -ius (“coming from” or “of”). Examples of names used by the clergy are Fallander and Morelius.

Many townspeople took family names called "nature names." These "nature names" would usually consist of two parts, such as Dalberg: Dal means “valley” and berg means “mountain.”

Soldiers were given names while in the military, where patronymics did not provide enough differentiation among the troops. Military names sometimes reflected a personal quality like Rapp (“quick”), a military term, a regimental preference, or could be associated with the place where the person served. When they left the service, some soldiers kept their military name, while others returned to using their patronymic.

When emigrants moved to a new country, they often changed their names. If they immigrated to English-speaking countries, the name was often Anglicized. Examples of name changes are

  • Andersson — Anderson (the double s becomes one s)
  • Bengtsson — Benson, Bentson
  • Johansson — Johnson
  • Sjöberg — Seaberg or Seeberg

In addition, married women would adopt their husband’s surname.

It is important to understand that the name and spelling of a name for the same individual can differ in the various records. You will always want to compare birth dates and other family information to verify that you are tracing the correct person.

While these records are in Swedish, the records themselves are mostly tables of dates, names, and places. There are some key words that are used repeatedly in the church books and researchers only need to become familiar with these terms.