Normally in a Swedish baptism record you see some very standard pieces of information. However, sometimes you can find some more information. Such was the case of my grandfather’s baptism record.
John Albert Johnson was born in Stråvalla, Sweden on 11 May 1910. On his indexed birth record there was a note1 and I wondered what this note meant.
Sweden birth records were created from the baptismal records, so I went to the source. His birth/baptism records had much more interesting information2.
…and it tells of the story of John’s birth.
First, he was baptized under an emergency baptism by the midwife on the day he was born 11 May 1910. So they likely did not think that he was going to survive. His older brother was born 15 years earlier and the intervening years had seen five girls born to the family, so his parents must have been thrilled to have another boy, but very worried about him.
The birth and baptism records record the parents residence, which was Hulegård No. 1 (the name of the farm) in Stråvalla. However, we can’t be sure whether he was born on the farm and rushed to the maternity hospital or born in that hospital. The Göteborgs barnbördshus (the maternity hospital) is located in the Annedal district of Göteborg almost 60 kilometres away from the farm. Although Stråvalla is in Halland and Göteborg is in Västergötland, two separate provinces, Stråvalla is in the registration district of Göteborg.
Until the 1920s more than 95% of babies in Sweden were born at home3 and he may have been rushed to the hospital after birth, but it seems more likely that the midwife would have baptized him at home if that was the case, so my guess is that he was born at the hospital. My grandfather listed his birthplace as Hulegärd on his emigration documents4 and as Göteborg on his marriage license5.
On 16 May, the priest confirmed the baptism at the hospital. This would have consisted of an interrogation to make sure the emergency baptism was performed in such a way that it was valid and a simply liturgy. The two witnesses to the baptism were two student midwives: Olga Alexsson and Klara Abrahamsson. I am making the assumption here that they were student midwives as the literal translation of their occupation is “the pupil” and the Göteborgs barnbördshus had a midwifery school from 1855.6 The picture below was taken around 1900, so a little before John was born, but we can still see how the hospital most likely looked at that time.
The final note on the baptism record indicates that the baptism certificate was delivered on 25 May. As that note appears to indicate that it was delivered to Göteborg not Stråvalla, it appears he was still in the hospital at that time.
After his difficult birth, we also know from further records that my grandfather’s early life was not an easy one. However, he did get married, had four children of his own, and lived until he was 74. Thank goodness, or I wouldn’t be here to write this story about him.
1Births, Sweden. Stråvalla, Sweden. 11 May 1910. ANDERSSON, John Albert. GID Number: 1842.41.1600, Roll/Fiche Number: CK4799, Volume: SCB. Collection: Sweden, Indexed Birth Records, 1880-1920. http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 2017.
2Births. Sweden, Stråvalla, Sweden. 11 May 1910 JOHNSON, John Albert. https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/00123655_00024#?c=&m=&s=&cv=23&xywh=-301%2C-605%2C6018%2C5497 : accessed 28 March 2022.
3Vallgårda, Signild. (1996) Hospitalization of deliveries: The change of place of birth in Denmark and Sweden from the late nineteenth century to 1970. Medical history. 40. 173-96. 10.1017/S0025727300060993.
4Library and Archives Canada, 1926. JOHANSSON, Johan Albert. 20 March. SS Drottningholm sailing from Gothenburg to Halifax. Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 27 June 2018.
5Marriages (CR) Canada. Edmonton, Alberta. 06 June 1938. JOHNSON, John Albert and TOMLINSON, Agnes Kathleen. 581.
6Göteborgs barnbördshus. Det Gamla Göteborg. https://gamlagoteborg.se/2018/06/20/goteborgs-barnbordshus/ : accessed 28 March 2022.