Monday, March 4, 2013

All the (Swedish) Gold in California

Have you been able to document your Swedish ancestors who emigrated to San Francisco and nearby areas in the post-Gold Rush era?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know more about them and to share your information about them on the SweAme Web site at ?
Luckily, there are some helpful and fascinating resources that make the journey fun. Check out Muriel Nelson Beroza’s Golden Gate Swedes: The Bay Area and Sveadal, updated in 2000 and available at and other Web sites. 

The book gives the history of Swedish immigration to an area that reminded so many Swedes of Stockholm, describes the Swedish societies’ many functions, and has lists of many participants in those organizations. The pictures are also fascinating for anyone who enjoys seeing photos of Swedes from about the 1850s through the 1930s. You might find a long lost family member or two there.

Also, the San Francisco Swedish Society owns the Swedish American Hall built in 1907 at 2174 Market Street, where there is an archives. Swedish Hall Chair of the Library and Archives Committee Susan Bianucci, herself of Swedish heritage, says Swedes have become the most well-documented immigrant group in the Bay Area.

There is also a special night club there called Café Du Nord for meetings, and the architecture is Scandinavian.

San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake destroyed a lot of primary family history documents, but there’s a very helpful “work around” book titled Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research. It suggests helpful substitute documents that did survive.  You can learn more about it by clicking on the LINK above.

Another resource for missing information might be The Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley that contains information about Scandinavian Americans. 

Just like your ancestors, you can “dig for gold” and mine these wonderful resources that will provide context about family members after immigration. And then you can valorize your family members by putting their family tree on the California section of the SweAme web site. SweAme California Swedes and their families. 

All that glitters isn’t gold, but if you put your family members on the web site, some extended family members may find you, and the Swedish tree may grow!  


Jeanne Rollberg 

March, 2013