Were Your Swedish Ancestors Cobblers, Criminals or Crofters?

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New, comprehensive and personal ancestry research service, OurLifeTree.com focuses on Swedish ancestry research for Americans launches. OurLifeTree operates two Web sites, one in English at http://www.OurLifeTree.com and the other in Swedish, under the name Mina Rötter at http://www.minarotter.se. OurLifeTree uses findings from its Swedish ancestry research to design and publish Life History Books. OurLifeTree’s Life History Books include the results from its Swedish ancestry research (complete with translations and interpretation), copies of Swedish parish and emigrant records, maps and family-provided photos and historical documents. OurLifeTree also publishes archival-quality Life Tree Posters featuring your Swedish family tree suitable for custom framing. Whereas most ancestry research organizations concentrate on the do-it-yourself market, OurLifeTree services those short on time, energy and expertise, and conducts the research and creates the books and posters, with input from its customers.

Colorful stories of your Swedish ancestors captured in a Life History Book - created and published by OurLifeTree.com

Helping families with Swedish roots discover more about where their ancestors came from, how they came to America, and where they settled, is contributing directly to their sense of place and pride of origin.

Imagine at your next family reunion dropping a little nugget of family history that reveals that your great-great-grandfather was a petty thief – imagine that, a petty thief in your family – who was jailed in Gothenburg, Sweden, your great-great grandmother stitched leather shoes in Stockholm, while your great-grandfather, a crofter*, boarded a 1800s cargo ship in Malmö, along with his brother, a båtsman**, to emigrate to America via Liverpool, then Ellis Island, along with hundreds of other Swedes.

When your family reels back with utter amazement (about having a thief in the family, of course) and interest, you reveal a newly published, heirloom-quality book complete with credible historical records, plus contributions you’ve taken from your family’s attic shoebox records, that accurately traces your family’s roots to the 1700s to Härryda, a municipality in western Sweden. And, you’ve accomplished this through a new and comprehensive, personal ancestry research service, OurLifeTree.com, that focuses on Swedish ancestry research for Americans.

OurLifeTree operates two Web sites, one in English at http://www.OurLifeTree.com and the other in Swedish, under the name Mina Rötter at http://www.minarotter.se. OurLifeTree uses findings from its Swedish ancestry research to design and publish Life History Books. OurLifeTree’s Life History Books include the results from its Swedish ancestry research (complete with translations and interpretation), copies of Swedish parish and emigrant records, maps and family-provided photos and historical documents. OurLifeTree also publishes archival-quality Life Tree Posters featuring your Swedish family tree suitable for custom framing. Whereas most ancestry research organizations concentrate on the do-it-yourself market, OurLifeTree services those short on time, energy and expertise, and conducts the research and creates the books and posters, with input from its customers.

“In an era of increasing homogeneity, people are increasingly looking to genealogical research resources that can lead to treasure troves of unique family history and ancestral trails,” said OurLifeTree.com Founder and CEO Emma Karlsson, a native of Sweden who is based in Mölndal and spends part of the year in the United States. “Helping families discover more about where their ancestors came from, how they came to America, their migration tracks and where they settled is contributing directly to Americans’ sense of place and pride of origin. It’s also great grist for story-telling around the water cooler and campfires, helps to bring families together, and helps them accurately trace their ancestral roots, all while preserving the very same history to share with generations to come.”

And, OurLifeTree arrives as people become more aware of and educated about the potential of ancestry research. The proliferation of Web sites and blogs dedicated to ancestry research, ancestry conferences and television programs is well documented and is helping bring ancestry research to mainstream audiences.

In fact, in a March 9, 2010 story in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, “Genealogy is not the boring word anymore that applies only to your grandmother or mother. Instead, it's penetrating the mainstream of American life. Thanks in part to four new television shows, tracing personal ancestry is taking off again...There's the new NBC series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’…Then there's the just completed PBS-TV series, ‘Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates Jr.’; the ‘Generations Project’ on BYU Television; and the ABC-TV show, ‘Find My Family.’”

Twelve months in the making, OurLifeTree.com, which officially launched in January 2010, is an all-inclusive service that is unique among ancestry research firms in that it combines research findings with publishing services to bring individual family ancestry stories to life. In addition to showcasing family histories, drawn from Swedish parish records and background provided by the family, OurLifeTree-designed books feature historical facts about Sweden, emigration patterns between Sweden and America, stories about life during different generational eras, geography and more.    

Finished products from OurLifeTree serve to preserve family genealogical records and help to capture the imaginations of everyone in the family, from the beginner family researcher, to the previously disinterested, to the most advanced family historian.

OurLifeTree.com offers a variety of packages covering three to five generations, ranging in price from US $150 to $990, and includes English translations of Swedish - often difficult to read - historical records. OurLifeTree research typically starts with the first emigrant to the United States. It also provides customized ancestry research to allow Swedish descendents to access generations further back in time. In addition to its ability access to many research resources, OurLifeTree holds special expertise in finding and interpreting Sweden’s parish records.

Sweden's parish records date back at least 400 years and are considered to be among the most complete records in the world. Birth, baptism, marriage, moving and death records were kept at each church, information typically included in each of OurLifeTree’s Life History Books. Additionally, household "examinations" of each member of the parish were noted. Once a year the priest of the parish had a meeting where he tested the family’s knowledge of Christianity. The results of the test and other information about the members such as death, occupation, moving, vaccination, etc., were kept in the household examination book.

To trace a Swedish ancestor, OurLifeTree must research and cross-reference each individual by using many different household examination books and church books. Why? Household examination records only contain a five to 10 years period of a person's life. So, to put the puzzle together of each person's life path, many different books must be consulted. Researching Swedish ancestors takes a lot of time, an investigator's analytical mind, and extra patience – this realization served in part as the genesis of the Sweden-based OurLifeTree.com. For more information, contact info(at)ourlifetree(dot)com.

*Crofter: A crofter owned their farmhouse but had to pay rent to their landowners for their land. The rent was paid in “manpower”, which means that they had to work a certain amount of days per year on the landowner's farm.

**Båtsman: Typically, a seaman serving onboard Swedish Navy ships.

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Chris Doyle

Emma Karlsson
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