Preserving history and making records available online

Warren Johnson, utilizing an EOS Utility program from Canon, photographs each fragile document and organizes the images into a file.

Swede Valley Lutheran Church recently turned 150. That means there is a century and a half of records in storage - church registries, ministerial acts (baptisms, weddings), transfer papers, board meeting minutes,  plus financial and cemetery records.

Warren Johnson of Omaha was tasked by the Swedish genealogy company ArkivDigital to help find and photograph early records of the Swedish-American churches in Western Iowa. The purpose of the project, said Johnson, is to allow genealogists on both sides of the ocean (Sweden and the U.S.) to research ancestors in these records and preserve information contained in the often fragile original books.

Swede Valley had merged with Immanuel Lutheran and Johnson was hoping records had been saved in storage. They had. Immanuel’s over 100 years of history would be preserved as well.

Long-time Church members Sylvia Dunkelberger and Carl Bergstrom painstakingly sorted through stacks of books and documents, then met Johnson at Immanuel Lutheran Church where he would begin the process of digitally photographing every page and document.

The project would take a full two days - Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 26 and 27.

Ogden’s Swede Valley is just one of many churches taking advantage of the free service. According to Johnson, last summer the company photographed records of 100-plus congregations in Nebraska and many more in Minnesota and Kansas. 


The church office will receive a copy of every image after they have been processed in Sweden.