Monday, May 21, 2012

SWEDEN: Searching for sjöfolk in Lund archives

P1080964The state archives in Lund contain the records of registered sailors like my ancestor Sven and his brother Ola. I’m visiting today to see what more can be learnt about how Sven got to Australia and where Ola may have headed when he went to the US.
I’ve already learned a couple of things this week, and that’s how to pronounce some of the names. Firstly Ola does not sound like the start of Olsen’; rather it’s Oola, as in the sound of the machines in Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds.  Secondly, sjöman (sailor) is pronounced hwurman and sjöfolk (seafarers) is thus hwurfolk. On a related note, a pirate’s gangplank derives in part from the an old English word for walking which survives in Swedish as gång. It’s common to see city street signs for gångvag and cyclevag. Gang way everybody!

I don’t have registration numbers to consult in the archives but I’m looking at at time window between when Sven would have registered around age 14 (1871) and Ola departed for the US (1883).
Lund archives - entrance  Index of marine archives
The first set of records to peruse was the register of fartygsbefälhavare och sjöfolk – shipmasters and sailors. I was given an envelope of microfiche covering the period 1871-91. There’s about 35 images on each of 11 microfiche, but I only have to cover about 6 of them to cover the search period.
microfiche (2)microfiche (1)
535 Sven PEehrsson 1857I found a number of candidates for Sven. There are complicating factors – only the birthyear is recorded, which for many names here is not enough to distinguish individuals. The only one registered as born in 1857 spells his surname as Pehrsson rather than Persson. Whether this is intentional or a mistake of the registrar I can’t tell. The box to the right of the birth year shows the voyages undertaken each year. This Sven has one in what looks to be 1878 but the handwriting in this section is so cramped that reading the figures is very difficult.
1542 Ola Pehrsson 1859 Likewise, the only Ola from 1859 has been given a Pehrsson surname and one voyage registered – years before leaving for the US. It makes one wonder if – and it’s a big if – Ola left many years before the date officially ascribed in the parish record books. After all,Sven’s arrival in Australia and subsequent marriage got rather belated additions to the Malmö parish books too.

The next step would be to go to some new registers that list the destinations for both domestic and international vessels leaving from that port. I don’t have time to do that today, even if I could decipher the tiny numbers on the first set of microfiche. I’m also not even confident I have the right people or that I will learn anything from the sparse information here.
emigranten records Mike checking the microfiche
The only other interesting information I got today was browsing through one of the emigrant databases. I found a Sven Persson of the right age heading to Chicage from Copenhagen on May 31 1877. If that is my Sven, did he reach Chicago and move on, or was he redirected to Australia before reaching the US? I don’t think those questions can be answered in these record books.

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