I searched ArkivDigital’s Population of Sweden 1860-1930 database recently.
Here’s what I found.
I’d let my ArkivDigital subscription lapse a while ago. But who can resist a free day at a great resource like ArkivDigital, the home of 76 million color digital images of Swedish parish records, estate inventories, court records, military rolls, and other genealogical goodies?
ArkivDigital has improved access, providing web-based interface and no longer requiring a stand-alone computer app be installed to access records. But even better, they’ve been indexing their records, formerly only available by browsing specific parish records by date. One of the new (to me) indexes is to their Population of Sweden 1860-1930 database. And I have to say it’s great, especially if you have names and relationships but are in doubt about a location within Sweden.
Using the Population of Sweden 1860-1930 Database
I decided to try it on a fairly mysterious Swedish Lind family group in my tree. The Linds were related by marriage to the Berggren brothers, who left Sweden for the mining districts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the 1880s. The brothers died together in a tragic mine accident leaving a grieving mother and Erik’s widow, Matilda Lind.
I was most intrigued by Matilda Lind, who married at 21 to Lars Erik Berggren in Michigan, and was widowed four years later. She never remarried, living as a widow in Michigan with her mother-in-law for decades. Her parents and two brothers, Andrew and Charles were living with Matilda in the 1880 census in Marquette County, Michigan. But I knew nothing of their lives in Sweden. And there were no good hits in the Swedish indexes at FamilySearch and Ancestry.
I had a definite birthdate for her oldest brother Andrew from his death certificate. So I decided to search for him in the Population of Sweden 1860-1930 database. Searching on the surname Lind and first name Anders yielded no good results.
Instead, as you can see from the image below, I reframed my search for all males named Anders born exactly on 12 Mar 1859 anywhere in Sweden (red and green boxes). There were 228 hits (yellow box), which I was able to reduce down using the county I thought he might be from.
And there was Anders (blue box), born indeed on 12 Mar 1859 (thanks for not dissembling about your birthday, Anders!) on the Ervalla farm, Axberg parish, Örebro Län. Best of all ArkivDigital provided hot links to the volumes for his parish birth record and the family’s Household Examination (similar to a census).
Matilda, her brother Carl, and a younger brother Johan are all there. But Matilda’s father, Henry, is not in the family group. So I still had questions about their surname. I had Matilda’s exact birthday, so repeated the same kind of search. I looked for all Matildas born in Sweden on 14 Mar 1864, but I found an only a natural child of a single mother. Was Matilda adopted or fostered by the Linds? My search strategy failed on this second attempt to use it.
Since nothing matched what I already knew, I went directly to the church records for that time and location. There I finally found the birth and baptism of Thilda Andersdotter (top image), born to Erik Hindrik Andersson and Maja Stina Jansdotter, born 14 Mar 1864. And I found the Household Examination (top) for the family as well. Now I just have to figure out how, or even if, this family relates to mine.
What I Learned (Or Relearned)
- The Population of Sweden 1860-1930 database is great. However, ArkivDigital notes that it is a “second-hand source and may contain errors.” (I still restarted my ArkivDigital subscription without waiting for Rootstech pricing because I just had to keep going on this family.)
- Go to the country of origin for the records. Indexes (and even images) at Ancestry and FamilySearch are great, but ArkivDigital has a greater variety of records and ways to search them.
- Scandinavian surnames changed – sometimes a lot. Matilda Lind in America was Thilda Andersdotter in Sweden. The Linds adopted their new surname in America, but unlike other Scandinavians in my tree, it appears to be a whole new surname and not based on a farm or other kind of name.
- When a search fails, question what you think you know. In this case, once I gave up on Lind as the surname in Sweden records, I found more records.