Scandinavian countries generally include Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and may also take in the Nordic countries of Finland, Iceland, Greenland and their territories. Church parish records and civil registrations in these countries are generally well preserved. There are censuses in some time periods and locations. Farm books, moving out records, and emigration lists are just some of the helpful sources unique to this beautiful area of the world.
All Scandinavian countries followed the patronymic pattern for surnames, where the father’s given name became the root for his children’s surnames. For example, Ole Andersson’s son Nicholas, would be known as Nicholas Oleson. Ole’s daughter Anna would be called Anna Olesdatter. Each generation had a different surname. Thus there were no direct surname lines to facilitate tracing a family line back through the generations. The use of the patronymic naming system continued in Scandinavia throughout recorded history until the late 1900’s, when it slowly died out. A Scandinavian research specialist understands this unique complication, and can build a pedigree using a combination of sources to verify the generational connections.
Most Scandinavian people followed the Lutheran faith. Some parishes have records intact as far back as the late 1500’s. The language and old handwriting are very difficult to read. In the latter half of the 19th century, large waves of Scandinavian population migrated to America, mainly in the Midwestern states. They established their unique churches in their new homes.
If an immigrant Scandinavian ancestor’s exact place of origin in the old country is unknown, research must begin in the area where he or she settled in America. Church records may have a marriage or death entry that mentions the specific town of origin. Patterns of association with others in the community can help to identify the correct ‘Jens Jonson’ in the old country.
A skilled Scandinavian research specialist, such as we at Heritage Consulting are fortunate to have, can navigate all the unique language and cultural characteristics. Our researcher is a native of Norway, and is also fluent in Swedish and Danish. She knows the records and how they are kept in the various places. She can read the old script. She understands the history, geography, culture and traditions of the great Scandinavian people. She researches at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the largest collection of genealogical records in the world. If the vast collection of the Family History library does not have something we need, which is very rare, we have specialists in Scandinavian countries who can search and retrieve documents for us.