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Looking for Descendants in the U.S.


About Genealogy in the U.S.

Genealogy in the United States is quite different and more difficult than in Sweden, mainly because the U.S. lacks the equivalent to the Swedish national registration system, where inhabitants were kept track of perpetually by the parish pastor. Here at the Swenson Center we have several sources for Swedish-American genealogy. If you know where the immigrants settled in the U.S. or Canada, maybe our records can be helpful, especially if they came over before 1930.

One of our main sources is the microfilmed Swedish-American church records, and if they were kept properly, they should include the church member's name, birthdate and place, immigration year, date of joining the church, and so on. These sources only go up to about 1930 for privacy reasons. That also applies to most of our other Swedish-American materials, which makes it very difficult to find living relatives in the U.S. To be able to search our records, it is important for us to know where the persons lived in the U.S. and, if possible, which Swedish-American church(es) they may have joined.

In cities like Chicago and Minneapolis–St. Paul, with large Swedish-American populations, it is especially important for us to know the church affiliation or the immigrant's residential address before we can start a search. In Chicago, for example, there were over 100,000 Swedish-Americans at the turn of the 20th century, many of whom had similar names. Many Swedes with common patronymic surnames changed to less common names after they settled in the U.S. and found too many neighbors with the same exact names.

See our list of church records to see if we have the area you need.


If you do not know where the emigrants settled, unfortunately we have no resources to help you.

Request assistance

To request a search in our records, please print and fill out our Genealogy Research Request Form and return it to us by mail, following the directions on the second page. You may also make an appointment to come here and view the records yourself. To do so, please see the Genealogy Research Visits page.


Below are some suggestions for things you can try yourself.

  • Search for the emigrant in Swedish-American Newspapers online.

  • Join the Swenson Center as a a member and receive our journal Swedish American Genealogist twice a year, which deals with Swedish-American biography, genealogy, and personal history. It is read by many genealogists in North America and Sweden. There is a section where your queries can be published. To do so, one must be a subscriber. 

  • Send a query to a worldwide genealogical discussion group called Roots-L. To send inquiries to the list, one must first subscribe, even if only briefly.

  • Here are a couple of websites where you can post queries: Anbytarforum and GenForum.

  • One can sometimes find the immigrant's date and place of death using the Social Security Death Index.

  • If you do know where they settled, many local county historical and genealogical societies in the U.S. have websites containing information as well as message boards where one can leave queries. Start at this USGenWeb page.

  • There are also genealogy email lists for most every U.S. county, found on RootsWeb, as well as genealogy pages on Facebook.

  • And, search for people at the free genealogy website

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