A Swedish-American succeeds in finding and meeting living relatives
In the early 1970s, Mike Lindstedt saw the Swedish film,“The Emigrants,” which describes the life of Swedes who left Småland and settled in Minnesota—close to the area where Mike’s paternal grandparents had settled. After seeing the movie, Mike made a wish: During his lifetime he hoped to visit one living relative in Sweden.
This past July, Mike’s dream was realized. He not only met one living relative but nearly sixty on his first visit to Sweden.
Mike is a typical Swedish-American with a mixture of other nationalities as well. His mother has Bohemian ancestry and his father is a first generation Swede—his parents emigrated from Sweden.
As a child, Mike questioned his family about where in Sweden his grandparents came from, but none of them wanted to share information or discuss the topic. After retiring recently, Mike found some information about his Swedish grandmother and developed an extensive family tree tracing her family. But as of November 2010, Mike still hadn't found one living relative in Sweden or identified the place where his grandfather came from.
Name, birth date, parish
To successfully research one’s Swedish family using Swedish resources, it is necessary to know the Swedish name of the emigrant, a birth date or an emigration date, and most importantly, that person's parish. Sweden has more than 2500 parishes, and for many Swedish-Americans who have only a name and maybe a significant date, it's just not enough information. Not knowing the parish where that ancestor came from has been the brick wall that has prevented further research for many. But during the last ten years, new electronic research tools have become available and have helped people identify the parish their Swedish ancestor came from.
One tool is the Emibas, a CD that has 1.1 million names of persons who emigrated from Sweden between 1840 and 1930. While it is not 100 percent complete, about 70 percent of emigrants are listed. The CD is very rich in the search capabilities meaning that one can search various criteria such as name, birth date, emigration year and partial year. Emibas, produced in 2005 by the Federation of Swedish Genealogical Societies and the Swedish Emigrant Institute, has broken down many brick walls. Unfortunately, the CD is no longer available for purchase. There are individuals and some libraries that have a copy. The data is now available on the subscription site www.emiweb.se, and while this is a good source, the search capability online is not quite as rich as on the CD.
Getting the tools
One day, less than a year ago, in November 2010, Mike attended my presentation on Swedish genealogy at the Family History Center in Oakland, California. The presentation focused on showing methods and tools for helping Swedish-Americans independently research their family history using these resources. At the end of my presentation, Mike asked me to enter his grandfather’s birthdate in the Emibas database. By doing so, we quickly found the parish where his grandfather was born. With this information Mike was able to independently research in the Swedish church books that are available online and discover the name of his father's grandfather as well as his mother’s parents. At long last, Mike had broken the mystery in his family about his Swedish grandfather.
During the next few months, Mike continued researching his Swedish ancestry using the church books as well as other Swedish electronic research tools and was successful in contacting families of his direct descendants living in Sweden.
A Dream come true
Finally in July, Mike’s lifelong dream came true when he spent two weeks visiting relatives in several places in Sweden including Göteborg, Kalmar and Gotland as well as the place in Fagerhult where his grandmother was born.
After Mike returned from his trip, he mentioned that he had met his original goal of finding and meeting living relatives in Sweden. He now understands a little more about his personal identity and how his relatives might have lived in Sweden and why they immigrated to the United States. However, one thing Mike didn't realize when he started his search was that his relatives would be just as anxious to meet him and his wife as he would be to meet them. With many of his relatives asking him and his wife to return to Sweden to visit again as well as hoping to visit the Lindstedts in California, he has discovered a new family.
And now Mike has become the family genealogist and has recently built a website where members of the family on both sides of the ocean can upload photos and documents and share their family history. The family that was separated over one hundred years ago has now been reunited.
If not for the Internet and the publication of many Swedish electronic research tools in recent years, Mike’s wish may have remained a dream. While not all searches have been as successful as his, these new tools such as the Emibas have made it possible for many Swedish-Americans to discover their Swedish heritage, and like Mike, others have been lucky enough to visit Sweden and meet living relatives.
By Kathy Meade
Internet and electronic resources used by Michael Lindquist to trace his family history / Swedish Genealogy Resources:
Swedish Church records are available on the following online sites
www.genline.com $Subscription site—also available at Family History Libraries
www.arkivdigital.net $Subscription site
www.svar.ra.se $Subscription site—National Swedish Archives
www.ancestry.com $Subscription site—World Deluxe Collection Edition
Central Soldier’s Register
Stockholm City Archives
Emibas—no longer available for purchase, available at some libraries
Swedish Death Index 1901–2009—available for purchase from the Swedish National Archives site www.svar.ra.se