Newsletter no 31
Norrtälje Lucia celebration
Photo: Marie Louise Bratt
God morgon - on this dark
It's December 13 when I'm writing this, Luciadagen, Lucia Day. We are almost at the longest night of the year, with light arriving late morning. By 2.30 PM it's getting dark. In northern Sweden the sun remains below the horizon. Imagine several weeks of darkness... This is why we are celebrating the light this Luciadag, for it returning soon.
I'm including, in this newsletter, a link to a TVprogram that played on Swedish television early this morning. The festivities were held in Göteborgs domkyrka (cathedral of Gothenburg). So sit back and enjoy traditional Lucia and Jul (Christmas) songs, with a few international ones interspersed, some of which you might recognize. This video will be on the website for one month only, so don't wait to watch it!
You might wonder about the strange sounds, like those of a cow maybe.... Believe me, during the night before Lucia, animals are able to talk! This explains the interesting animal sounds made by the man who is reading.
What's in this newsletter?
1. Let's first talk about Värmland, the forested western province of Sweden, bordering Norway. Many emigrated from here (some of them perhaps your ancestors), especially at a time when mines closed and workers lost their jobs.
2. Instead of traveling from the home parish to Swedish ports, for example to Göteborg, many Swedes went to Norway and emigrated from Norwegian ports. Also, for those living in the southern parts, for example in Skåne, many instead emigrated from Copenhagen, in Denmark.
3. Finally just a reminder: If you plan to visit Sweden in 2012, make sure that you start your research very soon. Dark winter days might be just the right time...
Emigration, and immigration, is nothing new to the people of Värmland. Many Finns immigrated from the counties of Savolax and Tavastland, in Finland, to Värmland, hundreds of years ago. They were called "skogsfinnar" (Finns of the forest) and settled the uninhabited areas of northern and western Värmland. Nobody cared much that those strangers came to Värmland, since there was lots of space for everyone. So your Värmland family might originally have come from Finland!
Värmland borders on Norway and Swedes from Värmland often crossed the mountains to work. Many also found a wife or husband on the other side of that border. Southern Värmland borders on the largest lake of Sweden, Vänern, and this is also where two of the biggest cities, Karlstad, and Kristinehamn are located. Now, when I say that these are big cities, don't imagine highways and skyscrapers, because you will not find either one. These are instead very pleasant communities, with old churches, houses and narrow streets.
Karlskoga, an important mining town, is located in the eastern part of Värmland. When mines failed, in the late 1800's, workers lost their jobs and many miners found work in other countries. By 1920 only a few big iron works remained. Karlskogaemigrationen is a website, in Swedish, about the emigration from Karlskoga. But it's in Swedish - how will you understand? Read on, please!
There is a translation program, which works quite well, made by Google (there are also others). Go to Google översätt, and enter the Swedish text into the space to the left. (The word svenska means Swedish, engelska means English). Just copy it and then paste it in that space. You will now get the full translation in the space to the right. Magic, right? Here is my entry, taken from Karlskogaemigrationen:
Now back to a few more Värmland towns:
Säffle, just north of the fertile peninsula of Värmlandsnäs, was populated already during the Stone Age, i.e. around 6000 to 2000 before BC (or BCE). These days there is a pulp mill - and yes, you do smell it as you approach Säffle.
Arvika, a beautiful town located right on Kyrkviken, the Church Bay.
Filipstad, 400 years old, as a city, in 2011
I want to thank Wikipedia for the use of their information, in English, about so many Swedish cities and towns.
Famous people from Värmland
Some of the emigrants from Värmland became famous, e.g. Johan Eriksson (later spelled John Ericsson), the well-known inventor, born in Långbanshyttan in Värmland. You might enjoy listening th this original presentation about John Ericsson from the University of Houston.
People from Värmland have the reputation of being creative. Here are a few of those talented Värmland artists.
Selma Lagerlöf, from Östra Ämtervik, who received the Nobel Price of Literature in 1909
Gustaf Fröding, from Alster parish, a much loved poet.
Monica Zetterlund, from Hagfors parish. Yes, it's Ack Värmeland du sköna, once more, but quite different from the one Jussi Björling sang.
Genealogy in Värmland
If your family came from Värmland, I suggest you try these interesting and useful research organizations:
The Swedish American Center
Let me explain something about Karlskoga: it's located in the province (landskap) of Värmland, but in the county of Örebro. So your grandmother from Karlskoga might call herself "värmlänning" (from Värmland), but her birth records are located at Uppsala landsarkiv, in the drawer for Örebro län! This is because Sweden is divided into counties (län) for administrative purposes, but also into provinces (landskap), a more historical term. Provinces (landskap) and counties (län) sometimes have common borders, but at other times they do not.
2. Emigrants leaving from
Norway or Denmark
Many moved to Norway to find work there, and emigrated to North America or to other parts of the world at a later time. This means that many emigrants are not included in databases such as Emihamn/Emigranten, which are based on documents made at a Swedish port, such as Göteborg, just before boarding the ship.
How to find those who emigrated from Norway? Here are a few website that may help.
And what about those leaving from Copenhagen? There is a website, which can help:
The Danish Emigration Archives
3. Thinking of traveling to Sweden in 2012?
The research takes time, so don't wait too long with getting it started. Sometimes you have to rely on the Swedish archives in order to get the information and they are usually very busy.
Before leaving for Sweden you will, of
course, want to know where your Swedish ancestors came from. If both
grandma and grandpa emigrated from Sweden, and then married in another
country, you need to find out where each of them grew up. It could be
that these places are located far from each other, perhaps even in
Lappland, for grandpa, and in Småland, for grandma. If so, you have many
kilometers to travel between these places.
Next is finding your relatives in Sweden, your grandma's sister's grandchildren perhaps, your second cousins. I am sure that you would very much like to meet some of them during your visit. I have accompanied many of you, my customers, to meet your relatives, and it was always a great experience. So how do you find them? This is where I can help you (actually I can help you with finding your grandparents' villages also). This part of the research is often more difficult and can involve some detective work. I have lots of experince in finding Swedish relatives and I'll be happy to help you.
Wishing you a God Jul
and a Gott Nytt År!
with much snow (if you wish to go skiing), or some quiet days to get your research started. Maybe you prefer to sit in front of the fire and make some plans for that trip to Sweden. Let me know if I can help! You can contact me here.
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