What Are Sweden’s Household Examination Records (Husförhörslängder)?

Sweden's Household Examination Records

When you start to do your Swedish family history research, you will learn that Sweden has some amazing family history records called the Household Examination Records. You can discover many things about your ancestors through these Household Examination Records or (Husförhörslängder).

Sweden’s Household Examination Records or Husförhörslängder is a church records book recorded by the Swedish Lutheran State Church; the records contain information about the people who lived in a specific parish in Sweden. These Household Examination records started about 1686 until about 1894; the Swedish Church was charged to keep Sweden’s population records until 1991.

What is the Swedish Household Examination Records or Husförhörslängder?

The Swedish Household Examination Record, known in the Swedish language as Husförhörslängder, is a Swedish church book that contains information about all the people who lived in a specific parish in Sweden. One of the reasons these records are so important is that starting in 1686, each Parish had a legal requirement to keep the people’s records in their parish.

In some areas, the parish priests may have discarded some of the earlier household records as they thought they were no longer considered relevant. This changed in 1749 when the government established the Tabellverket to gather demographic statistics.

The establishment of the Tabellverket also helped to assist with the gathering of Mantals Tax in 1812. All these records ensured Sweden has some outstanding household records that genealogists can use.

The Swedish Tabellverket (1749-1859)

In 1749 the Swedish government established a system called Tabellverket for the annual demographic data to be presented to the government. This data was presented to the Swedish government through the groundwork of the 2,500 parishes located throughout the country.

These church records had a two-fold purpose. One was for the government to know the demographics for tax collection. The other was as a way for the Swedish parishes to keep track of all the people in their parish area. The records were vital not just for the Swedish government but for the Lutheran Church Parishes.

These records also helped Sweden’s central government know about some of the needs in these Parish areas. From the Priests, the government received first-hand accounts from the Parish Priests.

The records also helped provide a network for some of the most influential Swedish people as there was information on who was in what part of Sweden. The Swedish Lutheran church was working hand-in-hand with the Swedish government to help obtain and verify these records.

Mantals tax in 1812

In the 1600s, the Swedish Government was no different from many other places globally; they wanted to find a way to expand their reach and influence. About 150 years, early in 1492, Columbus sailed and discovered America. Now ships were traveling all around the world trading in goods.

The Mantals tax started in 1625 with the Kvarntullsmantalslängder tax. The Kvarntullsmantalslängder, or Kvarntull tax, was a tax on the milled grain. The idea was that every time a farmer would bring in the mill to be ground at the mill, then the government would take a certain percent of the ground mill as tax.

To get around the tax, the farmers started to use a hand mill to grind their grain. The government outlawed these hand mills in 1627.

So in 1628, the Swedish people and the government concluded that instead of taking the grain as a tax, the people could instead pay the tax with money. Everyone over the age of 12 had to pay this tax. The Swedish parish worked with the government to help collect this tax.

To learn more about the Swedish Mantal’s Tax, you can read our blog What Are The Swedish Mantal Tax Records? History & Genealogy Research Tips by clicking here.

The Church And Sweden’s Household Examination Records (Husförhörslängder)

In the laws of 1686, the local parish priest in Sweden was assigned to keep certain records of all the people in the parish areas. The priests would go from house to house and farm to farm.

The parish priests used this time to collect the government’s records and test the knowledge of the occupants of their catechism and knowledge of religion. The priests would visit the family and admonish them and their children, farm helpers, servant maids, and others to read and study the word of God.

The Household Examination was an annual event; the priest would record using one book for about 5 or 10 years before starting a new one.

The meetings between the priests and the parishioners had the following protocol:

  • Have a set time to start. The meetings could go from 9 am to about 2 pm.
  • There would be a morning prayer and other bible readings.
  • The roll call would be taken, and many times it was noted who was on time and who was late.
  • The priests would ask if they were aware of anyone else residing at the house or farm that was not present.
  • The children and youth would need to recite the catechism; this could take up to 2 hours with readings and reciting. The priests would make a note if someone were not prepared.
  • There would be some religious teachings about true Christianity, how to train up a child, an admonishment to care for the sick and those in need, etc. They would talk to everyone’s civic duty to be a good Christian and a good citizen.
  • They would ask if any vagrant people were there and then identify them on the records.
  • They would usually discuss other church matters, such as who is assigned to help keep the church warm and the church’s cleaning.

As you can see, these annual meetings for the Household Examination Records were part religious and part civic. Later there were also tax implications when the tax collectors would go together with the priests. The advantage of this was that the parish priest knew the parish people and knew if they were lying about their taxes or who was in their household.

I can not help wondering whether they were many people who felt that there was no separation at all between the church and state. The Swedish church was heavily involved in collecting the tax through these annual Household Examination Record meetings.

Sweden’s Household Examination records continued until 1894 when the Församlngsbok replaced it. The Församlngsbok records had a less religious emphasis than the Household Examination Records. Until 1 July 1991, the Swedish Church, was responsible for keeping the official populations for Sweden.

What You Can Find On Sweden’s Household Examination Records

Like most records during this time, the records vary according to the parish, priest, time, and location; some parish priests kept better records than others.

Here is some information you can find in Sweden’s Household Examination Records:

  • Name of the farm, village, or rote (registration area)
  • The household members will include any female workers (pigor) or male workers (drängar).
  • Birthplace and birth date or age.
  • A score to show how well they knew their Catechism,
  • Dates of partaking of the communion.
  • Dates of participating in Household Examination.
  • Information if they or someone had moved or relocated.
  • Death date
  • Marriage date
  • Disciplinary notes
  • Smallpox Vaccination (after 1796)
  • Any military service or military information.

15 Tips To Doing Genealogy Research Using Household Examination Records

The Swedish Household Examination Records are an invaluable resource to use to research your Swedish ancestors. It is good for you to understand a few things or tips on how to best use these records with any tool.

14 Tips for using Sweden’s Household Examination Records for your genealogy research.

  1. Be sure to search every Household Examination Record that your ancestor appears on from their birth record to their death record. If you do this, you will be able to pick up various clues about their life and may find children who died young; this may also help correct incorrect family relationships.
  2. The earliest Household Examination Records may not contain every family member’s name. This again will really depend upon the priests in the area and what they recorded.
  3. Still verify any of the actual birth, marriage, or death records found in their Household Examination Records using other records.
  4. The House Examination Records were never standardized. Records from parish to parish may not be the same or even very similar.
  5. One place could have multiple listings in one Household Examininatoij Record.
  6. Sometimes numbers were used to identify the farms or houses, so if that is the case, you need to use the number to identify the correct records.
  7. Use a gazette to find out more about the area you are working in.
  8. Try to find some of some old maps of the area.
  9. Learn to pay attention to relationships, titles, occupations, and other remarks.
  10. If a person relocated within the same parish, there could be multiple entries or multiple pages in the same Household Examination book; review all the entries.
  11. When you are looking in the Household Examination Records, take the time to browse a couple of pages back and forward; you might find additional information on these pages.
  12. If you found a person has disappeared from one book to another book or there is no longer any record of them, it could be because they moved or died.
  13. If you find the priest crossed out the name, it is usually because that person has moved or for some reason no longer lives or resides there.
  14. Dates would always be written numerically in the European order, which is the day, month, and year.
  15. You may sometimes find that multiple generations are listed within the same household.

The Household Examination Records are all in Swedish. If you would like to know the Swedish vocabulary used in many Household Examination Records, you can find the Swedish Vocabulary by clicking here.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has translated some examples of what the Household Examination Records columns mean. Their translated examples will be able to help you to know what information you are looking at. You can download a copy of these below or check out the resources page under Swedish Heritage by clicking here.

Sweden’s Household Examination Records are a great tool for you to use to discover more about your Swedish ancestors. If you use the records correctly, it will help you be able to piece together a lot about their lives in Sweden.

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Sweden does not have a census collection or records as we have in the United States. The Sveriges Befolkning Records is usually translated from Swedish into English as Sweden’Census Records. Technically speaking the Sveriges Befolkning Records is not an official census record as the data was collected from the household examination records by the local Swedish Lutheran parish and not by a census bureau or another government organization.

You can discover more by reading our blog Does Sweden Have Census Records? Tips To Finding Your Swedish Family Roots by clicking here.

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Anita Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Hummel. I live in Hanoi, Vietnam. I love to share with you about my family history and the many parts of the world our ancestors have lived.

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Sweden's Household Examination Records