Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Swedish Research

If you've been following our series of blog posts about the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), you know that every other week we are featuring our course coodinators as guest bloggers.  This week we are headed to Sweden with Course 4 Coordinator, Geoffrey Morris.

First, may I congratulate any reader who has Swedish ancestry! Your research activities to discover your Swedish family can be a rich and fulfilling journey. The biggest factor in accomplishing this is your determination to overcome research barriers. There is no lack of records. Unlike many other countries where good thorough records were not kept, or preserved, the Swedish records are some of the most thorough and complete in the world. This is due to a number of factors such as:

  • a reasonably small population compared to many countries
  • an incredible amount of records kept by religious and civil authorities
  • national stability
  • a huge amount of records that have survived the hazards of time

So what are the major barriers? As I have been helping people at the Nordic Reference Counter at the Family History Library, I have noticed that the biggest barriers seem to be:
  1. Figuring out what record to go to next
  2. To read and understand text

The Swedish Research Course will begin by focusing on reading and understanding Swedish text (especially for records before about 1820.) We will focus on learning handwriting styles, correctly identifying letters, combining letters into words, putting words into sentences and getting the actual meaning.

The remainder of the course will be focused on exploring records and research strategies. Speaking of records, did you know there are roughly 3,000 parishes in Sweden? Each parish has a collection of records that were created for a variety of reasons (including many record types that were never microfilmed.) Now if you gathered all the parish records from every parish in Sweden and made an enormous pile of books, the pile would only represent about six percent of the all records in the national and regional archives. As the digitization of records continues to progress, a much wider variety of records are becoming available than ever before.  All of the class topics in the Swedish track will have a record and strategy focus that is not limited to the FamilySearch collection.

Finally, we will offer consultation activities at the Family History Library where your instructors will schedule a time to assist with research guidance.

In summary, our hope is to offer a Swedish Research course that will discuss topics that are rarely (if ever) offered at any other genealogical conference outside of Sweden. All of your instructors are fluent in Swedish and will be using Swedish sources to build their class material.  Although this is a great opportunity for intermediate to advanced researchers to improve their Swedish research skills, beginners are very welcome.

Thanks, Geoff!  If you have Swedish ancestry you can register for the Swedish Research course or learn more about it at the UGA website.  If you have any questions about this course, please comment on this post.  Will we see you in January?

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