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Parish records at the Swenson Center

The Swenson Center has subscriptions to ArkivDigital (AD) and SVAR, two Swedish web sites that offer Swedish parish record images online. Visitors to the Swenson Center have the potential to trace their Swedish ancestry back to the beginning of record-keeping in Sweden, often into the early 1700s.

Important things to note
We have one computer dedicated for parish record subscriptions and it is available for the public to use only by appointment at least a day in advance. Appointments are available for an hour at a time, a whole morning (3 hours), a whole afternoon (3½ hours), or a whole day (6½ hours).

It is important that you know the name of the parish and county (län) or province (landskap) in which you plan to do research before you come.

Because the Swedish parish records are in the pastor’s original handwriting and all in Swedish, they can be time-consuming to use and especially to learn to use. AD and SVAR are not searchable databases; one cannot type in the ancestor’s name and have his birth record magically appear on the screen. Using the online parish records is similar to turning pages in a book or scrolling through a microfilm.

If you are a beginner to Swedish parish records, AD & SVAR appointments will be available to you on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings when our volunteers are available to assist you in using the parish records. Our capable volunteers will give you free assistance and show you how to use the records and software, and we hope that you will then have the confidence to continue using the parish records on your own in the afternoon. Otherwise, you are welcome to continue scheduling time on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings to work with a volunteer instead.

If you have experience with any form of Swedish parish records, you may schedule an AD/SVAR appointment for any other time during our open hours Monday through Friday.

If you are new to the Swedish parish records, we recommend that you try to read a bit about them before coming, using one of the books Cradled in Sweden by Carl-Erik Johansson or Your Swedish Roots by Per Clemensson & Kjell Andersson, or by finding a web page that explains parish records, like this one (click on "Church Records").

We cannot guarantee that we will be able to read all of the handwriting for you, especially in the older records, but we will give it the very best try. We are not responsible for time lost if the Internet happens to go down when you are here.

A book that you will find useful during and long after your visit here is the Swedish Genealogical Dictionary by the late Phyllis Pladsen. Also, the Genealogical Guidebook and Atlas of Sweden by Finn A. Thomsen will be useful, but it seems to be out of print now. These are the first two books that we reach for when we are stuck.

We also have a copy of each of the above books at our AD/SVAR computer station for patron use.

To help us defray the expense of the subscriptions, we charge an hourly fee for the use of AD & SVAR: $10/hour for non-members of the Swenson Center and $5/hour for members. In addition, see the 2nd paragraph on our genealogy page for information about the Swenson Center’s entrance fee. You will find that a Swenson Center Associate membership ($30 per year) can easily pay for itself in one visit. See our membership web page, and consider adding a subscription to our journal Swedish American Genealogist for $15 more.

Questions we will ask you on the phone or via e-mail:

  1. Have you used AD or SVAR before?
  2. Have you used Swedish parish records before in some other format?
  3. Are you aware of our parish record usage fees? Our daily entrance fee?
  4. Are you a member of the Swenson Center?

E-mail us now to make your appointment, or call 309.794.7204.

We can also be hired to do research for you in parish records and other records. Look for the Research Request Form on our Research Services page.

Updated June 29, 2012