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Welcome to the Genealogy Page

A short guide for those of you wanting to get into the genealogy of their roots.

Dedicated to & Written By Rogers B. Finch


By Rogers B. Finch, past Birka Lodge member 

How do I get started? - This is the most frequent question that I hear from people who have become interested in their ancestors and the culture of the times and places in which they lived. My recommendation to them is to get a good book on genealogy and set aside time to read it. One of the best is Shaking Your Family Tree: A Basic Guide to  Tracing Your Family's Genealogy by Ralph J. Crandall. The author was for many years the executive director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston.  

Gather family information - While you are waiting for the book to arrive, you should start gathering everything you can find about your family - Bibles, newspaper clippings, birth, marriage, and death certificates, letters, scrapbooks, photo albums, etc. Let your relatives know that you are compiling a family history and ask what they have that may contribute to the information. If they won't give items to you, get photocopies. A digital camera is great for this purpose. Start a journal in which to record the source of each item, where and when you obtained it, and label each item with the same information. Document Your Sources! 

Highest Priority - As soon as you finish reading Chapter Two, Discovering Clues in the Attic, start your interviews with the eldest members of the family and get their stories and memories. Don't wait or you may be too late to get the most valuable data of all. Document your sources! 

Read the rest of the book - After you finish the first reading, start your research. This is where the fun of discovery takes place. You will find that you will be returning often to review those chapters that relate to the type of research you may be doing at any time. 

A look ahead - You will soon want to start assembling a pedigree chart on which to record the findings about your ancestors. You will also be compiling family group sheets for each family you discover. Although it is possible to compile these charts and sheets on paper, the world of computer technology has given us programs designed to record all of our information in a systematic way. These are fully explained in Ralph Crandall's book 

Continuing education - Although his book will give you enough information to enable you to do very effective research and compilation, you will continue to have questions as your family history develops. There are many internet resources available to assist you in this work. For example, the entire United States Census from 1790 to 1930 (except 1890) is now available from the internet to your home computer through your local library system or through a paid subscription. 

For those who would like to become even better informed about the world of genealogy, various resident and home study courses are available. There are also many local, regional, and national conferences where lectures are given by outstanding genealogists.


For more than a century, the largest percentage of those who emigrated from Sweden came to the USA. More recently, since it has become increasingly difficult to get work and visiting visas, America is no longer the natural destination that it once was. Thanks to the borderless European Union, the pattern of migration has changed. Today there are probably more Swedes living in Spain than in the USA. A very large number of expatriate Swedes have also settled in Germany, Belgium, and Great Britain - for example the Swedish Embassy estimates the Swedish population to be about 25,000 in London alone. 

The population statistics clearly show that Swedish immigration into the USA has radically changed in a hundred years. Around 1910, it was estimated that there were about 1.2 to 1.3 million Swedes among a total population of 91 million people. Today, the approximately 50,000 Swedes who have chosen to take up residence in the USA make up a much smaller ratio. 

On the other hand, there are more than four million individuals who consider themselves Swedish-American, and who maintain the old Swedish heritage in America. These individuals keep a large number of organizations, festivals, associations and museums alive. 

The author (referenced below) notes that while many volumes have been written about the Swedish emigration to the US between 1850 and 1920, nothing was found which describes the life of Swedes who arrived in the past 25-30 years. Therefore, he decided to interview and document many Swedes who have settled mostly in the northwestern US to ask the question as to why they chose to leave their homeland, why they have stayed, etc. 

He reports a wide variety of opinions and circumstances, and notes that very few feel like emigrants in the traditional sense, but feel more comfortable with the term expatriate Swede. He also observes that the new Swedish emigrants often join their own local network and associations where they share backgrounds, experiences and language. Consequently the two groups have different needs and interests, and as a result, New Swedes don't necessarily mix in common associations and congregations with the Swedish-Americans&. 

Source: SweMail. Excerpts from book by Lars Nordstrom, The New Emigrants or De Nya Utvandrarna.