Source Information Sweden, Indexed Marriage Records, 1860-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017.
Original data: Swedish Church Records Archive. Johanneshov, Sweden: Genline AB. 1944-1947 images provided courtesy of ArkivDigital.

About Sweden, Indexed Marriage Records, 1860-1947

This database contains indexed marriage records from the Sweden Church Records collection from 1860 to 1947.

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 commonly provide the following details:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Gender
  • Spouse name and maiden name
  • Spouse date of birth
  • Number of marriage of self and spouse

Later records may also provide the following information (visible on the image):

  • Occupation
  • Residence
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Previous marital standing

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 may be missing.

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.