Sources for Pre-1700 Profiles in Sweden

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Reliable sources

A wealth of original records for Sweden can be found in digitized form, free of charge (mostly B&W) at Riksarkivet and (in colour) for a fee at ArkivDigital. The B&W images are also accessible through Ancestry.com and FamilySearch. Records from the church, state, county etc. are reliable in the sense of being the public record of events. They are, however, not always accurate - clerics do make mistakes. And so they need to be evaluated in context. Sources should be cited in a way that makes it possible for others to find them without a link available.


Earlier records will be sparser and more difficult to read and interpret. Church records for Swedish parishes (birth-marriage-death) may go back to the early 1600s, more typically they go to the last decades of the 1600s. In many cases, however there are no pre-1700 parish records. Court records (not for the fainthearted), taxation records and land deeds go further back. Using these original sources for Swedish pre-1700 profiles is perfectly appropriate, indeed preferred - with the necessary caution in interpretation and awareness of potential errors.

For pre-1500 profiles there will be very few original sources available to the layman.

Unreliable Sources

  • User-contributed family trees at sites like: FamilySearch, Ancestry, Geni, MyHeritage, Rootsweb, WikiTree, Geneanet etc.
    • A tree without sources is insufficient as a source for WikiTree profiles.
    • A tree with precise dates and places will usually be a good guide of where to look for original records. Please take the time to do so. In these cases it is courteous to give credit (under See also); however when the tree exists in multiple copies on the net you may not be crediting the original builder. (In quite a few cases, precise dates and places, particularly before 1700, may be signs of fabrication. Exact birth years and places before parish records exist are a warning signal.)
    • When a tree does present sources, please take the time to look up the original sources. Give credit.
  • User-contributed family trees kept privately. The same as above applies here.
    • There are many Swedish family trees kept online by users with their own private sites. Some of them are very solid, often presenting their sources. These trees definitely deserve credit.
    • There is, however, the drawback that links to specific pages in these trees tend to break when the owner updates the site.
  • Find A Grave memorials are not a sufficient source for Swedish pre-1700 profiles

Frauds and fabrications

Be aware of the possibility of frauds and fabrications used to create connections to noble or otherwise desirable ancestors. There is a whole category listing some of the known frauds:

  • Frauds and Fabrications, including the
  • Gustave Anjou Fraud where some lines go back to Scandinavian nobility. This is not one single publication - Anjou made his living in America over three decades by selling fabricated genealogies to individual customers.

Reliable secondary sources

  • Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon Biographical lexicon of notables in Sweden from medieval times and on. Signed articles including source references. Produced by Riksarkivet, still a work in progress (currently nothing after Söderberg)

Pastorologies / herdaminnen

A pastorology provides a history of the clergy in a given diocese, usually with short biographies. For many dioceses there is a pastorology published in the 19th century as well as a more recently published, re-worked version, with a better foundation in research and accounting more clearly for sources.

Genealogies for Swedish nobility

The standard work for Swedish nobility is Den introducerade svenska adelns ättartavlor by Gustaf Elgenstierna, published 1925-1936.

From 2023 nine volumes of Den introducerade svenska adelns ättartavlor are available in facsimile at Litteraturbanken

Elgenstierna based his work on Svenska adelns ättar-taflor by Gabriel Anrep, published 1858-1864, which is less reliable than Elgenstierna, since Anrep was bound by restrictions imposed by the House of Nobility.

Elgenstierna's work is the basis for the Adelsvapen-wiki, which is also updated with corrections.

Published research

There is plenty of more or less solid research done by local researchers, who specialize in times and places where the available sources need careful interpretation. For these there are many publication channels - from journals like Släkt och hävd, published by the Genealogical Society of Sweden, over magazines published by local genealogy associations, to self-publication on the Internet. Most of this material is, naturally, written in Swedish. The reliability of any given publication as a pre-1700 source depends on how well the sources in it are presented and how clearly the reasoning is based upon those sources.

Work in progress

If your favourite source for Swedish pre-1700 profiles is missing, please ask a question about it, either in the Project Sweden Google Group or in G2G with the tag SWEDEN - so that the source can be evaluated and added to this page.

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Comments: 7

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What is the general opinion about Elgenstierna’s “svenska adelns ättartavlor” as a source? And adelsvapen.com mostly based on Elgenstierna?
posted by Robert Hvitfeldt
I think most would consider Elgenstierna rather reliable. It was, however, published 1925-1936, and I know there has been edits and additions published separately that would need to be taken into consdieration. Also, there may be later research and new information discovered since the publication of the books.

Adelsvapen.com is a transcription of Elgenstierna to the web, and there might, as always with transcriptions, be errors made. I know I have already reached out to have a couple of edits done, mostly mistypings.

I am not sure I would remove an unsourced template from a profile if it only had adelsvapen.com as only source on a profile, in most cases I would leave the unsourced template and hope for it to be even better researched in time.

Perhaps it is time to have this discussion in the google group and come to a conclusion to add to this page?

(Edited typos and wording.)

posted by Maggie Andersson
edited by Maggie Andersson
Syftar Du Markus Fernlund på boken nämnd i posten ovan av Robert Hvitfeldt så är alla böcker av den typen en sekundär källa och man måste för att avgöra trovärdigheten läsa hur författaren ställer sig till sina källor. Om hen har använt primära källor (ministerialböcker, domstolsarkiv etc.). eller inte och om hen "gått på" olika släktforskarmyter.
posted by Monika (Eriksson) Palmgren
edited by Monika (Eriksson) Palmgren
MinSläkt är ett svenskspråkigt genealogiprogram för Windows. There is a book with that name by Cynthia Oslund Cox, 2485 East F Street, Moscow, Idaho, US, but I know nothing much about it. It is her own family’s history.
posted by Robert Hvitfeldt
edited by Robert Hvitfeldt
Cynthia Nathalie Oslund Cox was born 1926, died 2009, 83 years old. A nice-looking teacher (Find-a-grave). You can find her book in antiquarian bookshops, search internet. I have only seen it at internet, the ex I saw cost $24.95. Guess it would be a pretty expensive postage to Sweden.

Är boken "Min släkt" en källa som trovärdig nog att ha som grund för en anfader? /Markus

posted by Markus Fernlund