Bridge to Sweden

Newsletter no 31
December 2011

Norrtälje Lucia celebration

Photo: Marie Louise Bratt


God morgon - on this dark Lucia morning!
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...


1. Värmland
The most loved song in Värmland is probably this one, Ack Värmeland du sköna, here sung by one of Sweden's wellknown singer, Jussi Björling.  Perhaps you recognize this song from when your grandmother sung it when you were a child. While you are listening, perhaps you could study the
map of Värmland - if this is where your family came from, to find the area where they lived. These are wonderful old maps, many from the latter part of the 1800. You'll need a small program in order to use these maps, which you can get from here.

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:

Left entry:

Känd emigrantagent från Bjurtjärn

En av de mest kända och största emigrantagenterna, Frederick Nelson (Fredrik Nilsson), kom från gården Näs i Bjurtjärn. Även en bror till Frederick Nelson, J.O. Nelson (Johan Olof Nilsson), var verksam i branschen.


Known emigrant agent from Bjurtjärn

One of the most famous and largest emigrant agents, Frederick Nelson (Fredrik Nilsson), came from the farm Nose in Bjurtjärn. A brother of Frederick Nelson, J.O. Nelson (Johan Olof Nilsson), was active in the industry.


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

Hagfors is instead a very young town, heavily influenced by the Uddeholm company 

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:

Most records from Värmland are stored here, and also scanned, giving all of us access to them. This includes records up to year 1999, enen though all are not yet scanned. The archives are located at Höökgatan 2, in Karlstad, for those of you who would like to check out the original documents.

The Swedish American Center
is another research center in Karlstad that might interest you. All in English!

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.

You can find a link In English on the left side of the page.

Bridge to Sweden
If you would like some help with finding your emigrant from Värmland and don't really know where to start, please contact me and I'll try to help you.


2. Emigrants leaving from Norway or Denmark
With Norway so close to Värmland, many emigrated from Christiania, now called Oslo (since 1925), as well as some smaller Norwegian ports close by. Those who left the more northerly provinces, e.g. Jämtland, usually chose to leave from Trondheim, in Norway, instead.

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.

Chose the port you believe your ancestor emigrated from (a map is helpful here), most likely Christiania or Trondheim.

Here you will find passenger lists from Norwegian ports from before 1875. A great website to learn from and explore. Yes, most emigrants are Norwegians, but many Swedes are also included.

And what about those leaving from Copenhagen? There is a website, which can help:

The Danish Emigration Archives

Click on Databases and enter what you know about your emigrant.



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.

You will also need to find the village where each of them lived, and the farm or cottage or city house. The farm is probably still there, and the cottage might now be used as a summer house for a family. If grandma grew up in the city, the house might now be gone, but not necessarily. So you need to find out. If it's gone, and a modern house is there in its place, you might at least be able to find a photo at the local museum or archives, and that is certainly also very valuable. My mother was born in Göteborg, but the house has been demolished and a day care center is there in its place. The local museum had pictures though, and I was very excited to get copies of them.

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!
(Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year)

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.

If you found this newsletter interesting and helpful to you, please forward it to friends and relatives who might be interested. If you no longer wish to receive it, please let me know and I'll take you off my subscription list right away.

Marie Louise Bratt

Merkuriusvägen 14

76164 Norrtälje


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