Counties vs. Provinces. Do you know the difference, and what it means for Swedish genealogy research? Our genealogists can trace your Swedish ancestry!
Counties vs. Provinces in Swedish Genealogy Research
Starting in 1634, Sweden has been divided up geographically into counties. These counties have changed over the years with some being added, some being dissolved, and others having their boundaries altered. Because records are generally kept at the county level, it is important to know which county your ancestors lived in so that you can search the records for that location. You should also look at the history of the county so that if it was a part of a different county at some point in history, you can search the records for the correct location.
It is also important to note that Sweden also includes geographical provinces, which pre-date the formation of counties. Provinces are based on political subdivisions, and each has its own cultural traditions, including dialects, social traditions, etc. Because of this, many Swedes have a strong tie to their province, and it is fairly common for their post-immigration records to list the province they are from rather than the county or city. What this means for your Swedish genealogy research is that you might have more digging to do!
Records to Trace Your Swedish Ancestry
Since record collections are organized by county, just knowing the name of the province is not enough. You’ll need to find out which county within that province your ancestors originated from. This can get tricky since some counties and provinces share the same names. If you find a place name, assume it is the county, but can’t find records of your ancestors there, consider that the place name you found might actually be the province.
Once the specific county is known, Swedish genealogy research can officially begin. Church books are generally the first records used to extend Swedish ancestry because they are very complete and contain very detailed information, and many of these books (among other records) can be found online at ArkivDigital.net. This subscription-based site has digitized copies of millions of Swedish records, divided up by county, and is an incredible resource for Swedish genealogy research. Reading the old handwriting written in a variety of languages/dialects can be hard, but the digitized copies are very good quality and can prove vital for learning more about your Swedish heritage.
Our Team of Professional Genealogists Can Help
If you need helping determining where in Sweden your ancestors came from, locating records about them, and/or deciphering and reading the records you’ve already found, the professional genealogists on our team can help.