Swedish-American Church Records

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Records of the Swedish American Churches are a great source for genealogical information and especially for helping to establish the place of origin in Sweden. Many of the Swedish-American church records kept in American are of the same high quality found as the records of Sweden.

Sweden had a State Church (1527 to 2000) which was Lutheran. Many immigrants upon arriving in America stayed with the Lutheran faith. Lutheran congregations with Swedish backgrounds are usually in the Augustana Synod. The Swenson Swedish Immigrant Center on the campus of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois has microfilmed copies of these records.

Other Swedish people upon arrival to America chose to change their religious affiliation. Some of them had actually left Sweden seeking religious freedom. Many Swedes belonged to congregations in the Evangelical Covenant Church, the Evangelical Free Church, the Baptist Church, and the Methodist Church to name a few. Records of other denominations have also been microfilmed and are also kept at the Swenson Swedish Immigrant Center, (Augustana College, 639 38th Street, Rock Island, Illinois, 61201-2296 Tel. 309-794-7204).

In searching the membership records of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Lindsborg (1874-1932), a record called “Record of Families” was found which resembled the Household Examination Records of Sweden. The record was organized by households and named each person in the household. Complete birthdates, birthplaces (often parish and county in Sweden) sex, baptismal date and place, marriage date and place, date arrived in America, where they were living prior to their present location and when they had arrived, date and place of moving out of this congregation and a column for remarks were all parts of this record. Also available for this same congregation was a “Church Register” which listed members alphabetically and gave complete birthdates along with birth places, marriage information, arrival and removal information. This gives an idea of the detailed information that can be found in Swedish-American Church records.

Supposedly only 1 in every 3 Swedes are found in these records but still with a 33% chance, they should definitely be searched. These records may be searched in person or an archivist at the Swenson Swedish Immigrant Center will make a search upon request for a fee. For what is available at the Swenson Center and how to make a request go to http://www.augustana.edu/x13856.xml. A complete listing of their holdings is available online at their website.

For Swedish-Americans in Minnesota these same records (for Minnesota only) are also available on microfilm at the Swedish Genealogical Society of Minnesota, 1185 Concord St. N. Suite 218, South St. Paul, MN 55075-1150 telephone 651-455-9057.