Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Scandinavian Church Records, Brick Walls, and Patronymics ~ Classes on Day 3 at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy

I have Norwegian and Swedish ancestry on my dad's side. So, I was thrilled to find that a Scandinavian track was being offered at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy.

On Thursday, July 30, I attended three classes from that track. The first one was titled "Using Online Scandinavian Church Records and was taught by Jennifer Hansen, AG.

During her class, Jennifer talked about records from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. There are ways to access these records online through the following websites:

The Danish National Archives at https://www.sa.dk/brug-arkivet/arkivalieronline

The Norwegian National Archives at http://www.arkivverket.no/arkivverket/Digitalarkivet

The Swedish National Archives at http://www.arkivdigital.com/

I don't have known Danish ancestry, so I haven't used the Danish National Archives website. But, I went to the website and it appears to be free to use. The Norwegian National Archives website is free, but the Swedish National Archives is a subscription based website. Swedish church records are available at Ancestry.com. To access those records, click HERE.

I have personally used the Norwegian National Archives website. It's a wonderful resource! I published several blog posts earlier this year in which I shared migration records for my 2nd great-grandfather, Iver Iverson and his brother Ole, as well as Ole's Norwegian passport. If you'd like to read those blog posts, click on the links below.

Leaving Norway ~ Iver Iverson

Leaving Norway ~ Ole Iversen

A Norwegian Passport ~ Ole Iversen

After Jennifer's excellent class, I attended "Tips for Solving Scandinavian (Nordic) Brick Wall Problems" taught by Ruth Ellen Maness, AG.

Ruth gave us a lot of excellent information, which was awesome. Her syllabus is six pages long. I learned things I didn't know before.

Ruth recommended using the FamilySearch Wiki for various topics such as Feast Days, Scandinavian given names, parish maps, etc. A case study link is included in the syllabus from the FamilySearch Wiki for Swedish genealogy called "Beyond Parish Registers: A Case Study." Here's the link ~ Beyond Parish Registers: A Case Study.

Have you ever seen a family in your tree who had one or more children with the same given name? I have. Could this be the case because the first child passed away and subsequent children were given that same name? Perhaps so. But, Ruth said that we shouldn't assume this is always the case. She said that she found six children named Ole in a family and all lived and married.

Another interesting tidbit from the class is that if a 3rd cousin or closer wanted to marry, they had to get permission from the king.

Also, all Scandinavian countries used the patronymic naming system.

Speaking of patronymics, the last class I took on Thursday was "Which Hans Jensen is Mine? Navigating Patronymics in Scandinavian Research" taught by Jennifer Hansen, AG.

Ah yes. Patronymics...where every generation had a different surname. For those unfamiliar with patronymics, here's a basic definition. A child's surname was created by taking the first name of the father and then adding either son, sen, or sson if the child was a boy, and datter, dotter, or dottir if the child was a girl. For example, my Norwegian 2nd great-grandfather was named Iver Iverson. That just meant that he was the son of Iver. Iver Iverson's sister Mari was named Mari Iversdatter.

Some information from Jennifer's class include the fact that women did not take their husband's surname when they got married. They kept their maiden name. Also, there were typical naming patterns for children. For example, the first two boys were named after the grandfathers and the first two girls were named after the grandmothers. The first son would be named after the paternal grandfather and the second son would be named after the maternal grandfather.

In addition to the patronymic naming system, Scandinavian surnames could also be occupational, geographical, or even nicknames.

I have so much to learn about Scandinavian genealogy research. One great resource that I highly recommend for this is the wonderful and informative FamilySearch Wiki.

I'll be sharing more about my experiences at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy in future posts.

Thanks for reading!

© 2015 Copyright by Jana Last, All Rights Reserved


  1. This Scandinavian track sounds right up my alley! The naming patterns are interesting (six Oles though - wow!), and I've definitely seen the occupational or geographical names or nicknames in addition to the patronymic surnames in my Danish research. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes! Six Oles in one family. I found that very interesting indeed. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)




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