While I can do more than a fair job of reading Latin-based languages (Spanish, French, Italian, etc.), I am the first to admit that my skills in reading Scandinavian languages are sorely lacking. My reading vocabulary is limited to the most basic genealogically related Danish and Swedish words – birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage, death, burial, probate, mother, father, son, daughter and church. An even dozen – that’s about it. This has led to me missing vitally important information in records I have found until some kind soul on Facebook or a volunteer in the library when I am in Salt Lake is able to tell me all that I am unable to read myself. Google translation often is no help because it is frequently difficult to decipher the letters in the words in old handwritten documents.
The first time I wandered around SVAR, I had pretty much the same experience because I didn’t even notice the “Other Languages” tab on the home page. Now that I think about it, I am not sure when I meandered to that website that I even arrived on the home page to see that “English” was a choice.
That was remedied during my February visit to Salt Lake City. While in the library, a young man introduced himself to the volunteers as a visitor from Sweden who would be happy to help read and translate for patrons during the few hours he was there. I don’t even know the young man’s name, but it turns out that he is a computer programmer for DISBYT, which I had never heard of or used.
This young man also showed me how to navigate SVAR:
Riksarkivet, or Swedish National Archives, abbreviated as SVAR, offers an option in the yellow bar across the top, for “Other Languages.” English is the only other choice, but it is exactly what I need! Then, the reader is presented with a screen that looks like the image above.
When I first stumbled around this site, it appeared to me, a non-reader of Swedish, that while the archives had many records, that a request had to be made to have them retrieved and that would incur a cost.
I learned in the Family History Library that SVAR offers multiple online databases for relatively small access fees.
The new SVAR Digital Reading Room has a menu that includes church and court archives, property records, vital records, censuses, population registers, land certificates and estate inventories, among other records.
While a subscription is required to access the records, what I like is that access can be obtained for as short a period of time as three hours, which costs SEK 50, about $5.80. Times range from three hours up to a one year subscription. If you know what you need and don’t need a year or even 3 to 6 months to search, these shorter subscription times make SVAR a very economical choice to obtain records.
I don’t have a subscription to SVAR, but the Family History Library in Salt Lake City does and I used the site while I was there. I am very used to ArkivDigital – I found SVAR to be not quite as smooth a site as ArkivDigital, but if I only needed a short amount of research time, I would definitely subscribe to SVAR.
A second new site that I learned about while in Salt Lake City is Disbyt, which is a database of information submitted by members of the Computer Genealogy Society of Sweden.
Disbyt is searchable for free so you can check to see if anyone has submitted information about your family, but a subscription is required to actually obtain contact information. However, a yearly subscription is only $22.00 US, per year.
Don’t worry if you don’t speak Swedish. Most Swedes speak/write basic English and many have excellent English skills.