On these pages Scandinavia refers Denmark, Finland (including Åland), Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. It would be more accurate to refer to these as the Nordic Countries, or Norden (the North), as that definition include those five countries as well as the Faroe Islands.
The region of Scandinavia is comprised of the following countries:
All countries classed in the Scandinavian group have a certain number of things in common that the family history researcher should know.
1. History: as early as 1397 Sweden, Denmark and Norway were united into one sovereignty by an act called the “Union of Kalmar”. The Kalmar Union was broken in 1523 when Sweden broke away.
2.All of these countries kept vital records in the form of church registers in a similar manner.
3.Naming systems until about 1860 were patronymic; that is John Andersson’s son Sven was named Sven Johnsson. Norwegian and Danish used the suffix “-sen” instead of “-sson”. Many times the men would have a military name to distinguish them from their comrades. The Norwegian people also incorporate the name of their farm or village as a matter of distinction.
4.Because an individuals name might change during their lifetime it is very important to identify them by their birth date, name(s) and if possible birth place (parish)
5.Their language was similar, differentiated by dialect until about 1600 when each language started to become more unique. Because Denmark and Norway remained united after the break of the Union of Kalmar, Danish and Norwegian are closer in written form. Records in Finland were kept in Swedish until about 1880; then they were in the Finnish and sometimes Russian language depending on the parish.
6.Records: The church of the state (Lutheran) kept the vital records: birth, marriage, death, moving- in, moving- out, confirmation records. The Swedes also kept a running census (household examination records) from about the mid 1700's to the early 1900’s depending where you are working in the country. This is invaluable in identifying individuals by families, birth date, birth parish and their movement from place to place and finally death.
- Civil or government records include some census records that did not include everyone, probate, land and court records. These were recorded on a county level.
- Military records are listed separately in each country.
7.Each country has a national archive, regional or provincial archives, some town archives. These archives store ancient records, military, civil and church. Many have digital images available on the internet. The most current url’s are seen on FamilySearch Wiki.
- Account Books
- Birth and Christening
- Catechism Lists
- Census Records
- Church Records
- Common Words in Parish Registers
- Communion Lists
- Daily Register
- Death Records
- Engagements and Marriages
- Feast Day Calendar
- Given Names
- Handwriting Examples
- Moving In and Moving Out
- Personal Names
- Probate Records