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Swedish Immigration to the United States

Swedish Immigration to the United States

  • 1500-1700
  • 1700-1800
  • 1800-1900
  • 1900-1940
  • Total: 1820-1920
  • Totals: 1820-1978
  • Immigration and Occupation
  • Immigrant Settlement: 1860
  • Immigration and Crime
  • Immigration and Illiteracy
  • Countries: Peak Years
  • Decades: 1820-1970
  • Embrakation
  • Journey to America
  • Fires and Shipwrecks
  • Disease
  • 1866
  • 1882
  • 1891
  • 1907
  • 1917
  • 1952
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Baltimore
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis
  • Lawrence
  • Austria-Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Bulgaria
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Portugal
  • England
  • Russia
  • Finland
  • Scotland
  • France
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Greece
  • Switzerland
  • Holland
  • Wales
  • Civil War and Immigrants
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • Haymarket Bombing
  • Assassination of McKinley
  • Industrial Workers of the World
  • Anarchism and Strikes
  • Molly Maguires
  • Sedition Act
  • The Red Scare (1919-20)
  • Sacco-Vanzetti Case
  • Jewish Immigration
  • McCarthyism
  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Jons Jonsson
  • Selma Erickson
  • Olaf Krans
  • John Ericsson
  • Peter Lindstrom
  • Lars Paul Esbjorn
  • Christina Nilsson
  • Greta Garbo
  • Birger Sandzen
  • Carl Gustaveson
  • Herman Seaborg
  • Tufve Nils Hasselquist
  • Swan Turnblad
  • Joe Haaglund Hill
  • Gustav Unonius
  • Nils Johansson
  • Carl Eric Wickman


Finns, as subjects of the Swedish Crown, were included in Sweden's seventeenth century effort to gain a New World foothold in the Delaware Valley. It is estimated that about half of the approximately one thousand colonists in "New Sweden" were either Finns who had first settled in Värmland, Sweden, or who came directly from Finland. The colonizing effort was initiated by the Dutch-Swedish New Sweden Company, and led by the German-born Peter Minuit. The Company Board included a Finnish admiral, Klaus Fleming.

Two ships, Kalmar Nyckel and Fågel Grip, set sail for the New World in 1637. They arrived in 1638, and the colonists purchased land from the native Americans to build Fort Christina, named after the Swedish queen. In 1655 Dutch colonists took over the small settlement. The year 1664 saw both the arrival of a final contingent of 140 Finns, and the change of ownership of the area from the Dutch to the English.

The memory of the early Finnish settlement lived on in place names near the Delaware River such as Finland (Marcus Hook), Nya Vasa, Nya Korsholm, Tornea, Lapland, Finns Point and Mullica. Several authors have suggested that the log cabin was a Finnish contribution to the New World, and that John Morton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was a descendant of the Värmland Finnish Marttinen/Mårtenson family.

The Finnish scholar Pehr (Pietari) Kalm toured North America exploring areas of what are now the United States and Canada. He was one of the first Europeans on the continent to visit Niagara Falls. Kalm's findings were published in the work En resa til Norra America (Journey to North America) which was subsequently translated into several languages. The well known Swedish naturalist Linnaeus, Kalm's mentor, named a plant genus kalmia in honor of his distinguished student.

Possibly the first Finn to have reached Alaska was a carpenter, Aleksanteri Kuparinen, who accompanied a group of Russian Orthodox monks locating on Kodiak Island in 1794.

After Finland came under Russian rule in 1809, a number of Finnish sailors and craftsmen found employment in Alaska, at the other geographic extreme of the Russian empire from Finland. Of the approximately 500 Europeans living in Sitka in mid-nineteenth century, the majority were Russians, Finns and Balts. Many took Aleut wives. A number of Finnish professionals, including clergymen, academics and prospecting engineers, visited Alaska for periods of time, while those in more menial occupations lacked the means to return and remained in Alaska even after it was sold to the United States in 1867.

Two Finns in particular left their mark on the North American continent as chief managers of the Russian-American Company: Arvid Adolf Etholén and Johan Hampus Furuhjelm. Etholén first reached Sitka in the service of the Russian-American Company in 1818, rising to chief manager of the Company 1840-1845. The name Etolin, based on the Russian version of Etholén's name, "Adolf Karlovich Etolin," can be found in several places on the map of Alaska. The Etholén collection in the National Museum of Finland contains a number of remarkable Alaskan ethnographic items.

Johan Hampus Furuhjelm served as Governor of the Russian-American Company from 1859 to 1864 and retired with the rank of vice admiral. In 1935 the United States Forest Service named Mount Furuhjelm after him.

Immigration from Finland to the United States started as a trickle consisting mainly of sailors who saw the opportunity to settle down. Documents show that sailors William Lundell and Carl Sjödahl left their respective ships to farm in the United States, Lundell in Massachusetts, and Sjödahl in Alabama where the latter achieved remarkable prosperity under his new name, Charles Linn.

Eventually, hundreds of Finnish sailors were on record as having abandoned their ships tempted by California gold, and life in such big cities as New York and Boston. Edward Kohn, a sailor from Turku smitten with California gold fever, was possibly the first in his profession to take the official route by actually applying for a passport in 1849.

Emigration from Finland to the United States has been documented through Finnish passport applications and parish records. Small groups of Finns arrived in Minnesota via Norway in 1864. Around this time Michigan copper mining companies sent agents to recruit Finns living in Northern Norway. Their job prospects encouraged others to follow suit. Carl Sjödahl, the former sailor, led 53 emigrants from Uusimaa in Southern Finland to Alabama in 1869, and another group left Vaasa Province in Western Finland in 1871.

In the 1870s, poor farming conditions contributed to substantial emigration from Western Finland, notably from Tornio River Valley, Kalajoki, and the areas around Kokkola, Vaasa and Kristiina. In the south, Turku was a gateway to North America. Newspaper accounts of the United States as the land of freedom, democracy, and equality further generated interest in emigration. During the 1860s and 70s Finnish settlers were found in Cokato, New York Mills, and Duluth, Minnesota, the latter subsequently known as the "Helsinki of America." Michigan mining communities included Calumet, Hancock, Marquette, Ishpeming, Negaunee and Ironwood. Farming communities were found in Nisula, Kyrö, Watton-Covington and Kaleva. Between 1870 and 1920, approximately 340,000 Finns immigrated to the United States.

Transmitting the Finnish cultural heritage to the next generation was considered a high priority among Finnish-Americans. The first Finnish-American newspaper, Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti (America's Finnish Newspaper) was published by Antti Muikku in Hancock, Michigan, 1876, the first of several hundred Finnish-American papers. Amerikan Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura (The American Finnish Literature Society) was founded in Calumet, Michigan 1878, initially to publish instructional material for children, as well as religious literature. In general, Finnish immigrants were distinguished by their high literacy rate.

In the 1880s emigration was common from Finland's coastal areas, particularly Ostrobothnia, as well as the Åland Islands, while in the 1890s the idea of emigration also spread to the inland. Remarkably accurate passenger lists were maintained by the Suomen Höyrylaiva Osakeyhtiö, a Finnish shipping company which transported Finns to England where they subsequently transferred to English or American vessels. In the 1870s and 1880s about 40 percent of all Finnish-Americans lived in Michigan, primarily working in mining and logging. Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range was another area providing substantial employment for Finnish-Americans. Farming was another significant way in which the immigrants made a living. Single young women often were employed as domestics

Emphasis on Finnish culture and literacy remained strong. It is estimated that of the Finnish immigrants arriving between 1899 and 1910, 98 percent were able to read, compared to the average immigrant literacy rate of 76 percent.

The Lutheran Suomi (Finland) Synod was founded in 1890 with strong ties to the Finnish Lutheran church. Suomi-College was established in Hancock, Michigan in 1896 as a theological and teacher-training seminary. The1962 merger of Suomi Synod into the Lutheran Church in America and the decreasing percentage of Finnish-Americans attending Suomi-College reflected the inevitable Americanization of Finnish immigrants

The division between those Finnish-Americans with a more conservative, religious orientation, and those with a more leftist and labor focus began in the 1890s. Church life contrasted with labor activities which centered around the various local meeting places, the "halls." The first and perhaps most noted of these was Brooklyn's Imatra Hall which catered to the inhabitants of Brooklyn's "Finntown." The history of the Finnish-American Workers' College illustrates the range of immigrant loyalties. This institution, which was particularly active prior to World War I, began as a seminary, but became progressively more labor-oriented before closing in 1941.

The Finnish National Brotherhood, the Knights of Kaleva, was founded in 1898 to further Finnish culture in the United States.

Finns were identified for the first time in the 1900 U.S. census, which counted about 63,000 persons born in Finland. Of these, about 56,000 lived in Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and California. Almost a third of the total, approximately 19,000, lived in Michigan. Inspired by the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, Kaleva was founded in southern Michigan in the early 1900s and attracted hundreds of Finnish-American residents.

This decade saw the founding of the Finnish cooperative colony, Redwood Valley, California (1912-1932), and the flowering of the Finnish cooperatives, particularly general stores in the Midwest.

The 1920 Census again showed that Michigan and Minnesota were home to largest numbers of Finnish-Americans, with about 34 percent of the total United States population born in Finland evenly divided between each state. Elsewhere, Finnish-American settlements could be found in Oulu, Wisconsin Frederick (Savo), South Dakota Waukegan and De Kalb, Illinois and Ashtabula (Iloinen) Harbor and Cleveland, Ohio. On the East Coast, Massachusetts quarries provided employment, as did the industry and other businesses of Boston. New York City was home to Finnish-Americans, particularly Brooklyn's 10,000-strong "Finntown." By this time thousands of Finns also had settled in California, Washington and Oregon. A distinct correlation could be found between the areas of emigration in Finland and of immigration in the United States, as people from certain Finnish localities preferred to settle in particular areas of the United States.

The Order of Runeberg was founded in 1920 by Swedish-speaking Finnish-Americans of whom about 70,000 were estimated to have arrived in the United States between 1880-1940. Johan Ludvig Runeberg was a well known Swedish-speaking Finnish poet who, among other things, wrote the lyrics to the Finnish national anthem.

The first Finnish-American Congressman, Oscar J. Larson, an attorney from Minnesota elected as a Republican, served in the Sixty-seventh and Sixty-eighth Congresses 1921-1925. The year 1921 also saw the founding of a second Finnish-American cooperative community in McKinnon, Georgia (1921-1966).

The last large wave of Finns immigrating to the U.S. came in 1923, numbering about 12,000.

Finnish-American runner Ville Ritola broke the world record for the 10,000 meter race winning four gold and two silver medals in the Paris Olympics, 1924. He won a gold and a silver medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics for the 10,000 meter and 5,000 meter races, respectively.

Possibly the best-known Finnish-American organization, Suomi-Seura, was founded in 1927 and proved particularly active in celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Finnish settlement in Delaware, 1938.

Beginning in the 1920s, Finnish-American accordionist Viola Turpeinen won acclaim for her performances and recordings. Together with Sylvia Pölsö, fellow accordionist, the two attractive young women were a popular draw in the Midwest. Viola Turpeinen's music was recorded for Victor and Columbia in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1940s and 1950s Turpeinen and her musician husband William Syrjälä recorded for the Standard Phono Company. In 1958, at the age of 49, Viola Turpeinen died of cancer in Lake Worth, Florida where she had settled with her husband.

1930s to 1940s

Finnish-Americans provided aid as well as a number of volunteers to Finland during the Winter War and World War II. The Finnish Relief Fund established to provide civilian aid was headed by former President Herbert Hoover.

The architects, father and son, Eliel and Eero Saarinen became particularly well known in the United States during these decades. Eliel Saarinen was the first director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Eero Saarinen's most notable contribution is the design for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, or "Gateway Arch to the West," in St. Louis, Missouri.

1950s to 1980s

St. Urho's Day, a Finnish-American celebration, began in Minnesota in the 1950s. This tongue-in-cheek event reflects the Finnish-American acculturation process with a nod to St. Patrick's Day. St. Urho's Day is celebrated March 16, and is now recognized as a Finnish-American event throughout the United States. Minnesotans Richard L. Mattson and Sulo Havumaki are credited for initiating this celebration in 1956. The colors worn on St. Urho's Day, royal purple and nile green, are in memory of the fictitious occasion on which St. Urho ("St. Brave") supposedly chased away the grasshoppers threatening Finland's grape harvest.

Lantana, Lake Worth and New Port Richey, Florida acquired popularity as areas for Finnish settlement.

FinnFest USA, Inc. has been arranging annual FinnFests since 1983 to highlight Finnish-American culture and heritage. FinnFest '88 at the University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware had as its theme "350 years of Finns in the United States" to observe the 350th anniversary of the arrival of Finnish settlers to the site of present day Wilmington.

To observe the 350th anniversary of the Finnish settlement in Delaware, a Joint Resolution of the 99th Congress, May 22, 1986 and a Presidential Proclamation on September 17, 1987 designated 1988 as the "National Year of Friendship with Finland."

1990 to Present

The groundbreaking for Salolampi Finnish Language Village was held in 1990. This center for language learning is currently owned by Concordia College.

The 1992 Library of Congress Exhibition, Bearers of the Word: Finnish Immigrant Literature in America 1876-1992, highlighted the continuation of the Finnish literary tradition in the U.S.

Finnish American Societies with chapters in various localities include the Finnish-American Historical Society, International Order of Runeberg, Finnish American Heritage Society, and Finlandia Foundation which thrived for many years under the patronage of Dr. Vaino Hoover (Huovinen).

Finnish-Americans count in their number the actresses Christine Lahti and Jessica Lange, producer Renny Harlin, authors Jean Auel, Anselm Hollo, Stephen Kuusisto and Tiina Nunnally, who is also known for her fine translations. Gus Hall is the long-time leader of the U.S. Communist Party. Charles Wuorinen is a Pulitzer Prize winning composer. Paul Kangas is best known from Nightly Business Report on TV. Last but not least, Finnish names are often seen in the National Hockey League.

Barnes, Mary Clark and Lemuel Call Barnes. The New America, a Study in Immigration . New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1913. E-Book

Engle, Eloise. The Finns in America. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Lerner Publications Company, 1977.

Hoglund, A. William. "Breaking With Religious Tradition: Finnish Immigrant Workers and the Church, 1890-1915," For the Common Good: Finnish Immigrants and the Radical Response to Industrial America. Superior, Wisconsin: Tyomies Society, 1977.

_________. Finnish Immigrants in America 1880-1920. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1960.

Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. The Scandinavian American Family Album. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Ilmonen, Salomon. Amerikan Ensimäiset Suomalaiset eli Delawaren Siirtokunnan Historia. Hancock, Michigan: Suomalais-luteerilaisen kustannusliikkeen kirjapaino, 1916.

_________, ed. The Finns in North America: A Social Symposium. Hancock, Michigan: Michigan State University Press for Suomi College, 1969.

Karni, Michael G., ed. Finnish Diaspora II: United States. Toronto: The Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1981.

_________, Olavi Koivukangas and Edward W. Laine, eds. Finns in North America: Proceedings of Finn Forum III. Turku, Finland: Institute of Migration, 1988.

Kaups, Matti. "A Commentary Concerning the Legend of St. Urho in Minnesota," Finnish Americana: A Journal of Finnish American History and Culture. Volume 7, 1986, pp. 13-17.

Kero, Reino, Auvo Kostiainen, Arja Pilli, and Keijo Virtanen. Suomen Siirtolaisuuden Historia, Osa I, II, III. Turku: Turun Yliopiston Historian laitos, Julkaisuja, 1986.

Ross, Carl and Mariane Wargelin Brown, eds. Women Who Dared: The History of Finnish-American Women. St. Paul, Minnesota: Immigration History Research Center, 1986.

Salolammen Sanomat. 10/98. Minneapolis: Salolampi Foundation, 1998.

Selvala, Robert W., ed. FinnFest USA: The First Decade 1982-1992. Owatonna, Minnesota: Finnfest USA, Inc., 1992.

Solsten, Eric and Sandra Meditz. Finland, A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1990. E-Book

Thernstrom, Stephan, ed. Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980.

Virtanen, Keijo, Richard Impola, and Tapio Onnela. Finnish Literature in North America. Turku: Institute of History, Cultural History, University of Turku, in association with the Finnish North American Literature Society of Turku, 1994

Swedish Immigration to the United States - History

Most Swedish immigrants were young, Protestant, and literate, originating from rural areas of southern Sweden. Chicago&aposs first Swedish settlement emerged in 1846, when immigrants destined for the Swedish religious colony in Bishop Hill, Illinois, decided instead to settle in Chicago. The Swedish community in Chicago subsequently grew to become the largest in the United States. The Swedish presence in Chicago can be divided into four distinct phases: early establishment between 1846 and 1880 mass migration and dispersal from 1880 to 1930 maturation and decline between 1930 and 1960 and modernization after 1960.

In 1848, only 40 Swedes lived in Chicago, and that population grew slowly. Many of these earliest settlers came to work on the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Although the Swedish settlement remained small for the next two decades, reaching 816 people in 1860 and 6,154 in 1870, it represented the largest single cluster of Swedes in the United States. During the 1870s, the Swedish population in the city doubled, outnumbered only by the German, Irish, and British immigrant groups. These early Swedish settlers established three distinct ethnic enclaves. The largest emerged north of the Chicago River on the Near North Side and became known as Swede Town a second, smaller enclave developed on the South Side in Douglas and Armour Square and the third grew on the West Side in North Lawndale. Smaller settlements emerged in West Town and the Near West Side.

Most Swedish men worked in skilled trades, such as construction and metalworking, or in factory jobs at the McCormick Reaper Works, the Union Stock Yard, or the Pullman Palace Car Company. Like their Irish counterparts, most Swedish women who worked outside the home found employment as domestic servants in American households. Within the Swedish enclaves, Swedes established a network of churches and secular associations, the earliest of which were the St. Ansgarius Church (1849), the only Episcopal Swedish church in Chicago, the Immanuel Lutheran Church (1853), and the social club Svea (1857). Chicago became an important center of the Swedish American press. The Lutheran newspaper Hemlandet (1855) relocated to Chicago from Galesburg, Illinois, in 1859, and was rivaled by the more secularly oriented Svenska Amerikanaren (1866). Both newspapers reached Swedes across America and in Sweden.

After 1880, the Swedish population in Chicago exploded. Waves of new immigrants were drawn by the city&aposs expanding economy. During the 1880s, the Swedish-born population in Chicago increased by roughly 233 percent to more than 43,000 people. By 1930 there were 65,735 Swedish-born Chicagoans and more than 140,000 children of Swedish immigrants. Networks of friends and relatives eased the transition to urban life, helping newcomers find housing, jobs, and social connections.

After the 1880s, Swedes relocated to newer settlements away from the older enclaves in the central districts of the city. By 1920 Swedes dominated the North Side neighborhoods of Lake View, Andersonville, and North Park and West Side neighborhoods of Austin and Belmont Cragin. On the South Side, Swedes settled primarily in Hyde Park, Woodlawn, Englewood, West Englewood, South Shore, Greater Grand Crossing, East Side, Morgan Park, and Roseland. Swedes were least likely to settle in areas dominated by Greeks, Czechs, Hungarians, Russians, Poles, Yugoslavians, and Italians instead, they settled near Germans, Irish, and Norwegians, groups whose earliest arrival in Chicago coincided with their own.

In these widely dispersed areas, Swedish immigrants created lively ethnic communities, building new churches and social organizations. The variety of churches established—Augustana Lutheran, Mission Covenant, Free Church, and the Swedish branches of the Salvation Army and Methodist and Baptist churches—reflected denominational movements among the Swedish people. Through worship, music, and socials, churches served as important cultural hubs to Swedes in the city, and many single immigrants met their spouses through these churches. Secular clubs developed in neighborhoods after the establishment of the mainline Swedish churches, when the Swedish population was large enough to sustain a variety of organizational interests. Singing and sports clubs, fraternal lodges, temperance and educational organizations, professional associations, and Swedish branches of trade unions all added to the diversity of Swedish life in Chicago.

Churches and secular organizations started benevolent institutions to assist sick, unemployed, widowed, orphaned, and aging immigrants, the largest of which became Augustana Hospital (1882) and Swedish Covenant Hospital (1886). Although most Swedish children attended public schools, the Swedish churches augmented this education by providing Swedish-language summer programs. The Mission Covenant Church transferred its college and seminary to Chicago in 1893, naming it North Park College and Theological Seminary after the neighborhood in which it was located. Most Swedes continued to work as skilled, semiskilled, and domestic workers, but an ever increasing number achieved success in business and professional endeavors. Per Samuel Peterson (1830–1903), after whom Peterson Avenue is named, began the Rose Hill Nursery in 1856 and by 1900 he supplied most of the trees along the streets of Chicago. The American-born son of Swedish immigrants, Charles R. Walgreen (1873–1939), founded his first Walgreen&aposs drugstore in Chicago in 1901. Immigrant Frederick Lundin (1868–1947) won seats in the Illinois state senate in 1894 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 1908. He played an instrumental role in the successful mayoral elections of William Hale Thompson in 1915 and 1919 and the creation of Thompson&aposs patronage system.

Until 1960, Swedes ranked as Chicago&aposs fifth-largest foreign-born group, behind Poles, Germans, Russians, and Italians. By then, however, Chicago&aposs Swedish community was shrinking and growing older. Swedish-born settlers declined from 65,735 in 1930 to 16,674 in 1960. International depression and world war disrupted Swedish immigration, and a modernizing Swedish economy improved conditions there and diminished the need to leave for better opportunities elsewhere. Swedish organizational membership flattened during these years and more associations adopted English as their official language as fewer newcomers arrived from Sweden. The importance of preserving the historical record of Swedish immigrants in Chicago and the United States was realized by a new generation, and with this in mind, the Swedish Pioneer Historical Society was founded in Chicago in 1948.

By 1970, slightly more than 7,000 native-born Swedes resided in the city. With the ease of trans-Atlantic travel, most modern Swedes living in Chicago were on short-term business assignments, studying abroad, or married to Americans. The vast majority were highly educated and fluent in English well before settling in Chicago. Despite declining numbers, the Swedish ethnic heritage in Chicago lived on. In the 2000 census, more than 123,000 residents of the metropolitan region cited Swedish as their main ethnic identity.

Preservation of ethnic heritage was carried on by the Swedish American Historical Society (formerly the Swedish Pioneer Historical Society), the Swedish American Museum Center (1976), the Central Swedish Committee and its member organizations, and the Center for Scandinavian Studies at North Park University (1985). The Andersonville neighborhood remained an important Swedish American center, yet it lacked the dense clustering of Swedish residents of an earlier time. As third- and fourth-generation Swedish Americans dispersed residentially, the work of Swedish fraternals, churches, and foundations that did not depend upon residential clustering became even more important in reminding Chicago of the important role Swedes played in shaping the city&aposs history.

Family and Community Dynamics

When the first wave of immigrants came from Sweden to America in the 1840s and 1850s, the settlers traveled in large groups composed of entire families and led by a pastor or other community leader. These groups established the beginnings of the ethnic communities that are still today identifiably Swedish American. Family and social structures became the bedrock of the larger community, and often these communal settlements maintained the characteristics and customs of the areas in Sweden from which the immigrants had come.

Swedish America was thus founded on a tight communal and familial structure, and these characteristics were present both in rural and urban settlements. But this pattern was soon altered by a number of factors, including the increased immigration of single young people, the geographical dispersion of the Swedish immigrants, and secondary migrations within the United States. Although Swedish Americans rarely inter-married (and then usually

"M ost dear to me are the shoes my mother wore when she first set foot on the soil of America. You must see these shoes to appreciate the courage my parents had and the sacrifices they made giving up family and security to try for a better life, but not knowing what lay ahead. We came to this country as many others did, POOR! My mother's shoes tell a whole story."

only with other Scandinavian American groups), Swedes assimilated rapidly into American society, and by the second or third generation were indistinguishable from the general Anglo-American population. Their family patterns and social organization also became indistinct from that of the wider populations.


Because of widespread literacy in nineteenth-century Sweden, Swedish immigrants were almost universally literate (at least in Swedish), and education was of primary importance to them. They eagerly embraced the American public school system, enrolling their children and organizing their own public schools wherever they were lacking. Swedish immigrants saw education as the primary means for their children to advance in America. Besides participating in the formation of public institutions of higher education (the University of Minnesota is one good example), Swedish Americans also formed their own private colleges many remain

U.S. Relations With Sweden

Relations between the United States and Sweden are built on a shared heritage that dates back to 1638 when the first Swedish immigrants arrived on the shores of Delaware. Sweden was one of the first countries to recognize U.S. independence in 1783 and the two countries have maintained a strong bilateral friendship since then, based on shared values and mutual interests. Sweden is an Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and plays an active leadership role on the international stage, from its long-term investments in Afghanistan to its role as a global peacemaker. Sweden is also a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, participates in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and serves as the United States’ protecting power in North Korea. Sweden’s commitment to promoting global democracy, human rights, gender equality, and international development and sustainability makes it a respected moral leader in international affairs. As one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance, Sweden gives approximately one percent of its Gross National Product annually and is one of USAID’s most important bilateral partners. In this vein, Sweden has advanced as a global leader in prioritizing gender equality in its development assistance. Sweden remains a vocal supporter of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and partners with the United States to promote stability in the Baltic Sea region and sustain transatlantic security.

U.S. Assistance to Sweden

The United States provides no development assistance to Sweden.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Sweden is a member of the European Union (EU). The U.S. economic relationship with the EU is the largest and most complex in the world, and the United States and the EU continue to pursue initiatives to create new opportunities for transatlantic commerce.

Sweden is highly dependent on exports, is strongly pro-free trade, and has one of the most internationally integrated economies in the world. The government has been expanding its export base away from the traditionally European market, seeking to grow in Asia, South America, and the United States, but the bulk of Sweden’s exports still remains within the EU. The United States and Sweden’s two way trade for 2019 is $25.5 billon (including trade in goods and services). Sweden and the U.S. invest over $94 billion in each other’s economies. Sweden is the 13th largest investor in the U.S. and one of the largest investors on a per capital basis, investing $61.3 billion and supporting over 200,000 U.S. jobs.

Combined with a well-educated labor force, outstanding infrastructure, and a stable political environment, Sweden has become more competitive as a choice for U.S. and foreign companies establishing a presence in the Nordic region.

Sweden participates in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for certain business or tourism purposes for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

Sweden’s Membership in International Organizations

Sweden and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Arctic Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe — which Sweden chairs in 2021, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, International Atomic Energy Agency, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Sweden also is an observer to the Organization of American States and a participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) program.

Bilateral Representation

Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.

Sweden maintains an embassy in the United States at 2900 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 (telephone: 202-467-2600).

More information about Sweden is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Swedish Immigration to the United States - History

The 17th century saw Sweden as an European "Great Power" and one of the major military and political combatants on the continent during the Thirty Years' War. By mid-century, the kingdom included part of Norway, all of Finland and stretched into Russia. Sweden's control of portions of modern Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Germany made the Baltic Sea essentially a Swedish lake.

Perhaps inspired by the riches other Great Powers gathered from their overseas colonies, Sweden too sought to extend its influence to the New World. In 1637, Swedish, Dutch and German stockholders formed the New Sweden Company to trade for furs and tobacco in North America. Under the command of Peter Minuit, the company's first expedition sailed from Sweden late in 1637 in two ships, Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip. Minuit had been the governor of the Dutch colony, New Netherland, centered on Manhattan Island, from 1626 to 1631.

The ships reached Delaware Bay in March 1638, and the settlers began to build a fort at the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. They named it Fort Christina, in honor of Sweden's twelve-year-old queen. It was the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley.

During the next seventeen years, twelve more Swedish expeditions left the homeland for New Sweden. A total of eleven vessels and some 600 Swedes and Finns reached their destination. The colony eventually consisted of farms and small settlements along both banks of the Delaware River into modern Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Route from Sweden to New Sweden and return

Unfortunately, Governor Printz's autocratic rule left many settlers dissatisfied. A petition for reform was branded a "mutiny," but did lead to that Governor's return to Sweden.

In 1654, Printz was succeeded by the colony's last governor, Johan Rising, at a time when the Dutch capitol of New Amsterdam was ruled by the hot-tempered Peter Stuyvesant. Soon after arriving in New Sweden, Rising attempted to remove the Dutch from the colony by seizing Fort Casimir (present-day New Castle, Delaware), below Fort Christina on the western shore of the river. With no gunpowder, Fort Casimir surrendered without a shot and was re-named Fort Trinity.

The furious Governor Stuyvesant had his revenge the following summer, when seven armed Dutch ships and 317 soldiers appeared on the Delaware River. Realizing that resistance would be useless, the vastly outnumbered Swedes surrendered Fort Trinity and Governor Rising surrendered Fort Christina two weeks later.

Swedish sovereignity over New Sweden was at an end, but the Swedish and Finnish presence was very much in evidence. In fact, Governor Stuyvesant permitted the colonists to continue as a "Swedish Nation" and be governed by a court of their choosing, be free to practice their religion, organize their own militia, retain their land holdings and continue trading with the native people. This independent "Swedish Nation" continued until 1681 when the Englishman, William Penn received his charter for Pennsylvania and the three lower counties, present-day Delaware.

While Swedes and Finns continued to settle in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, they did not begin to arrive in the United States in large numbers until the 19th century. Swedish immigration was highest between 1867 and 1914 due to poor local economic conditions in Sweden and the availability of cheap land in the American west. At the peak of immigration in the 1880s, an average of 37,000 Swedes came to the United States each year. Most of the new settlers bypassed New Sweden and headed west to Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, California and Washington, which remain the states with the largest numbers of Swedish-Americans today.


  • Akenson, Donald Harman. (2011) Ireland, Sweden and the Great European Migration, 1815-1914 (McGill-Queens University Press)
  • Åkerman, Sune (1976). Theories and Methods of Migration Research in Runblom and Norman, From Sweden to America, 19–75.
  • American FactFinder, United States Census, 2000. Consulted 30 June 2007.
  • Andersson, Benny, and Ulvaeus, Björn. Kristina from Duvemåla (musical), consulted 7 May 2007.
  • Barton, H. Arnold (1994). A Folk Divided: Homeland Swedes and Swedish Americans, 1840–1940. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.
  • Barton, H. Arnold Swedish America in Fifty Years—2050, a paper read to the Swedish American Historical Society on the occasion of the 1996 celebration of the Swedish Immigration Jubilee. Consulted 7 May 2007.
  • Beijbom, Ulf. Chicago, the Essence of the Promised Land at the Swedish Emigrant Institute. Click on "History", then "Chicago." Consulted 6 May 2007.
  • Beijbom, Ulf (1996). A Review of Swedish Emigration to America at AmericanWest.com, consulted 2 February 2007.
  • Brattne, Berit, and Sune Åkerman (1976). The Importance of the Transport Sector for Mass Emigration in Runblom and Norman, From Sweden to America, 176–200.
  • Cipolla, Carlo (1966). Literacy and Development in the West. Harmondsworth.
  • Elovson, Harald (1930). Amerika i svensk litteratur 1750–1820. Lund.
  • Glynn, Irial: Emigration Across the Atlantic: Irish, Italians and Swedes compared, 1800-1950 , European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: June 16, 2011.
  • Kälvemark, Ann-Sofie (1976). Swedish Emigration Policy in an International Perspective, 1840–1925, in Runblom and Norman, From Sweden to America, 94–113.
  • Norman, Hans (1976). The Causes of Emigration in Runblom and Norman, From Sweden to America, 149–164.
  • Runblom, Harald, and Hans Norman (eds.) (1976). From Sweden to America: A History of the Migration. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Scott, Franklin D. (1965). Sweden's Constructive Opposition to Emigration,Journal of Modern History, Vol. 37, No. 3. (Sep., 1965), 307–335. in JSTOR
  • The Swedish Emigrant Institute. Consulted 30 June 2007.
  • Swenson Center, a research institute at Augustana College, Illinois. Consulted 7 May 2007.

Individual and Group Contributions

Finnish Americans as a group tend not to promote the concept of individual merit. ( Oma kehu haisee —a Finnish proverb often quoted by Finnish Americans—means "self-praise smells putrid.") The following sections list contributions made by Finnish Americans:


The father and son architectural team of Eliel (1897-1950) and Eero (1910-1961) Saarinen is closely associated with Michigan's Cranbrook Institute, where Finnish design theory and practice were taught to several generations of Americans. Eero Saarinen designed a number of buildings, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan the TWA terminal at New York's Kennedy International Airport and Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.

Painters include Elmer Forsberg (1883-1950), longtime professor at the Chicago Institute of Arts and a significant painter in his own right. Religious painter Warner Sallman (1897-1968), a Finland Swede, is most famous for his "Head of Christ," the mass-produced portrait of a Nordic-looking Jesus that became an icon of American Protestantism.

Photojournalist Kosti Ruohomaa, a second generation Finnish American from Maine, created a portfolio of photographs after working more than 20 years for Life and other national magazines. Rudy Autio (1926– ), also a second generation Finnish American, is a fellow of the American Crafts Council whose work is in the permanent collections of major museums. Minnesota-born sculptor Dale Eldred (1934-1993) became head of the Kansas City Institute of Arts and creator of monumental environmental sculptures that are displayed throughout the world.


The earliest successful Finnish American businessman was Carl Sjodahl (Charles Linn 1814-1883) who began as a sailor and became a wealthy wholesaler, banker, and industrialist in New Orleans and Birmingham, Alabama. Another early Finnish seaman, Captain Gustave Niebaum (1842-1908), established the Inglenook winery in California.

Vaino Hoover, former president and chief executive officer of Hoover Electric Company, designed and manufactured electric actuators and power flight control system components for aircraft and deep sea equipment. An important figure in the American defense industry of the 1950s and 1960s, he was a member of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's National Defense Advisory Committee. Yrjö Paloheimo (1899-1991) was a philanthropist as well as a rancher in New Mexico and southern California. He organized Help Finland activities in the 1940s, founded a farm and garden school for orphans in Finland in 1947, and established the Finlandia Foundation in 1952. In addition, he and his wife organized the Old Cienaga Village, a living history museum of early Hispanic life in New Mexico. Finnish American Armas Christian Markkula, co-founder of the Apple Computer Co., is listed as one of the 500 richest men in America.


Finnish Americans in education include Margaret Preska (1938– ). One of the first women in the United States to head an institution of higher learning, she was president of Mankato State University from 1979 to 1992. Robert Ranta (1943– ) is dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at the University of Memphis and also serves as a freelance producer of such television specials as the Grammy Awards.


Among the best-known Finnish Americans in government is Emil Hurja (1892-1953), the genius political pollster who orchestrated Franklin Delano Roosevelt's victorious presidential elections. Hurja became a member of the Democratic National Committee during the 1930s. O. J. Larson was a U.S. representative from Minnesota in the early 1920s. Maggie Walz (1861-1927), publisher of the Naisten Lehti ( Women's Newspaper ), represented the Finnish American suffragists in the American suffrage and temperance movements. Viena Pasanen Johnson, co-founder of the Minnesota Farmer Labor Party, was the first woman member of the Minnesota State Teachers' College board of directors. She later became a national leader in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Gus Hall (1911– ) remains president of the Communist Party of America.


Jean Auel (1936– ), author of Clan of the Cave Bear and other bestselling novels dealing with prehistoric peoples, is a third generation Finnish American. Less well known but still significant to American letters is Shirley (Waisanen) Schoonover (1936– ), whose Mountain of Winter (1965) has been translated into eighteen languages. Anselm Hollo (1934– ), the renowned translator and writer with more than 19 volumes of verse to her credit, teaches at the Naroba Institute. Pierre DeLattre, author of two novels, Tales of a Dalai Lama, 1971, and Walking on Air, 1980, has been published in some 50 magazines. Recent writers emerging from the small press movement include poet Judy Minty, fiction writer and poet Jane Piirto, and fiction writers Lauri Anderson, Rebecca Cummings, and Timo Koskinen.


Composer Charles Wuorinen (1938– )—the youngest composer to win a Pulitzer Prize—was named a MacArthur fellow in 1986. His music is performed by major symphony orchestras throughout the United States. Tauno Hannikainen was the permanent director of the Duluth Symphony and associate conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Heimo Haitto was a concert violinist who performed as soloist with major philharmonics in Europe and the United States. Legendary virtuoso accordionist Viola Turpinen (1909-1958) became a recording artist and professional musician. Jorma Kaukonen (1942– ) played lead guitar for Jefferson Airplane. Elisa Kokkonen, a young emerging solo violinist, performs with major orchestras in the United States and Europe.


Finnish America's major contributor to American Lutheran theology was renowned professor of theology Taisto Kantonen (1900-1993) of Wittenburg University. Melvin Johnson (1939– ), an administrator at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America headquarters in Chicago, and retired theologian Raymond W. Wargelin are among the most prominent living church leaders of Finnish descent in America.


Olga Lakela, a former professor of biology at the Duluth campus of the University of Minnesota and the author of numerous scientific papers on plant and bird life in Minnesota, had her name inscribed on the Wall of Fame at the 1940 New York World's Fair as one of 630 Americans of foreign birth who contributed to the American way of life. Ilmari Salminen, a research chemist with Eastman Kodak, specialized in color photography. Vernen Suomi, now an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was responsible for several inventions currently used in the exploration of outer space. A younger generation of scientists includes Donald Saari (1940– ), a Northwestern University mathematician in astronomy and economics Markin Makinen (1939– ), a biophysicist at the University of Chicago and Dennis Maki (1940– ), a medical doctor who serves as an infectious disease specialist in the Medical School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Finnish American sports figures have achieved recognition in track, cross country skiing, ski jumping, and ice hockey. The Finnish American Athletic Club was one of the strongest organizations in U.S. track and field competition. U.S. Olympic hockey and ski jumping teams have included Finnish Americans. Midwestern American sports teams in the 1930s were often called "Flying Finns," after legendary Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, whose tour of the United States during the 1920s caused a sensation among American track and field enthusiasts. Waino Ketonen was world champion middleweight wrestler from 1918 to 1927. Rick Tapani, pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, and sportscaster Dick Engberg are both third generation Finnish Americans.


Stage actor Alfred Lunt (1892-1977), who teamed with his actress-wife Lynn Fontanne from the 1920s through the 1950s was a second generation Finnish American from Wisconsin he showed his Finnish pride when he chose Robert Sherwood's poignant There Shall Be No Night as a touring vehicle and a significant way for the duo to present the plight of Finns fighting in the Winter War in Finland. Bruno Maine was scenic art director for Radio City Music Hall, and Sointu Syrjälä was theater designer for several Broadway shows. Movie actor Albert Salmi (1928-1990) began his career in the New York City Finnish immigrant theater, and Maila Nurmi, who once used the stage name Vampira, hosted horror movies on television in the late 1950s in Los Angeles. She also starred in Ed Wood's immortal alien flick Plan 9 from Outer Space, considered by many critics to be the worst movie of all time. Other Finnish American actresses include Jessica Lange (1949– ) and Christine Lahti (1950– ), granddaughter of early Finnish American feminist Augusta Lahti.

American Memory (Library of Congress) . Includes a number of collections of print and non-print materials (photographs, posters, archival sources) pertaining to immigration, such as Pioneering the Upper Midwest and The Chinese in California, 1850-1925 .

Aspiration, Acculturation, and Impact : Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930. "Immigration has shaped the contours of this nation's history from its founding to the present day. Immigration has shaped the nation's cities, its institutions, industries, and laws, its literature and its culture. Harvard's world-renowned library and museum holdings reflect these realities through guidebooks, ethnic publications, policy documents, diaries, photographs, and organizatonal records that chronicle the continuing impact of immigration on the United States." Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Research Professor and Founder of the Open Collections Program at Harvard University. Immigration to the US, 1789-1930 is a web-based collection of selected historical materials from Harvard's libraries, archives, and museums that documents voluntary immigration to the United States from the signing of the Constitution to the onset of the Great Depression. For Internet users worldwide, Immigration to the US provides unparalleled, free and open digital access to a significant selection of unique source materials&mdashmore than 410,000 pages, 100 individually cataloged maps, and 7,800 photographs.

Border and Migration Studies . A collection that explores and provides historical background on more than thirty key worldwide border areas, including: U.S. and Mexico the European Union Afghanistan Israel Turkey The Congo Argentina China Thailand and others. Featuring at completion 100,000 pages of text, 175 hours of video, and 1,000 images, the collection is organized around fundamental themes associated with border and migration issues.

Dillingham Commission Reports. During the 2nd and 3rd sessions of the 61st Congress, reports on Immigration issues were issued to the Senate by the Dillingham Commission. The immigration reports include statistical reviews, emigration and immigration conditions in Europe and other parts of the world, occupations of immigrants (including extensive coverage of immigrants in the industries of the time), living conditions, conditions of immigrants in major metropolitan and agricultural areas, the schooling of immigrant children, social and cultural organizations and societies of immigrants, and immigration legislation at the state and federal levels. The 41 volumes of these reports were digitized and converted into PDF format under the supervision of Stanford University Libraries' Social Sciences Resource Center. Note: To download the documents you have to create a profile.

The Finlandia University Finnish American Historical Archive offers two collections of potential interest: Finnish Folklore and Social Change in the Great Lakes Mining Region Oral History Project 1972-1978 (Funded in part by the National Endowment For The Humanities) and the F.F.S.C.G.L.M.R. Digitization Project 2010-2011 (Funded in part by the Keweenaw National Historic Park Advisory Commission). Scroll down past the alphabetical listings and it will include a short description of what each interview focused on. If a transcript is available, it will have a .pdf link under the interviewee's name. If audio clips are available, there will be a link at the bottom of the interview description. Not all interviews have transcripts or excerpts. Often, that means the interview was in Finnish, and it hasn't yet been fully translated. It is also possible to order copies of full interviews on CD. The cost would be $10/interview + shipping.

Immigration. This feature presentation links educators to primary sources from the Library of Congress' online collections. These Web resources can make history come alive for students! The feature provides an introduction to the study of immigration to the United States. It is far from the complete story, and focuses only on the immigrant groups that arrived in greatest numbers during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The presentation was shaped by the primary sources available in the Library's online collections and these questions:

  • What happened to the Native American as waves of immigrants arrived from other nations?
  • Which nations yielded the most significant numbers of immigrants to the United States?
  • Why did each immigrant group come to the United States?
  • When did each immigrant group come to the United States?
  • Where did the groups settle, both initially and in subsequent migrations?
  • How were the immigrants received by the current citizens of this nation?
  • How did United States government policies and programs affect immigration patterns?
  • How did United States government policies and programs affect immigrants' assimilation into the life of the nation?
  • What role did the distribution of resources (natural and man-made) play in the immigration and subsequent migration patterns of immigrants?
  • How did economic conditions impact the immigrants' experience?
  • How did cultural heritage affect an immigrant's place of settlement?
  • What impact did immigrant cultural traditions have on the United States?

Immigration and Multiculturalism : Essential Primary Sources / K. Lee Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, and Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner, editors. Detroit, Mich. : Thomson Gale, c2006. This volume of primary source documents focuses on some of the leading social issues of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries: immigration and multiculturalism. It contains approximately 175 full and excerpted documents---speeches, legislation, magazine and newspaper articles, essays, memoirs, letters, interviews, novels, songs, and works of art---as well as overview information that places each document in context. Entries are organized into chapters that feature a general overview of the chapter's subtopic. Also included is an introduction to the topic, a chronology of major events associated with the topic, and a general index.

Immigration Challenges for New Americans : Photographs, maps detailing immigration patterns, official documents, song sheets and streaming audio recount the immigrant experience in America, their reasons for leaving their homelands, and the reactions of established Americans. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Immigration History Research Center. An "interdisciplinary research center in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. Founded in 1965, the IHRC promotes research on international migration with a special emphasis on immigrant and refugee life in the U.S."

In their own words : letters from Norwegian immigrants / edited, translated and introduced by Solveig Zempel. Minneapolis, Minn. : University of Minnesota Press, c1991. 225pp. E184.S2 I5 1991 (also availalbe online)

John Novak Digital Interview Collection. Consists of interviews about immigration, migration, and the Civil Rights Movement. The interviewees, who range in age from 20 to 90, speak of their experiences moving to and within the United States. Listen to interviews from Esperanza Perez whose Mexican mother crossed the border to give birth to her daughter so that she could be an American citizen, Earnest Stamps who recounts his train ride to Detroit and his wonderment upon arrival at the Michigan Central Station, or Yvonne Revell who was a participant in the Greensboro Sit-in demonstrations. The project began in 2004 as part of a Teacher-Scholar award received by Professor Dena Scher in the Psychology/ Social Sciences Department of Marygrove College. In 2006, librarian Michael Barnes adapted the digital interviews into a special collection within the auspices of the Marygrove College Library.

Migration to New Worlds explores the movement of peoples from Great Britain, Ireland, mainland Europe and Asia to the New World and Australasia. Split across two modules, and including collections from 26 archives, libraries and museums, Migration to New Worlds brings together the movement and memories of millions across two centuries of mass migration. Migration to New Worlds: The Century of Immigration concentrates on the period 1800 to 1924 and covers all aspects of the migration experience, from motives and departures to arrival and permanent settlement. Adam Matthew database.

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories. North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories includes 2,162 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of information, so providing a unique and personal view of what it meant to immigrate to America and Canada between 1800 and 1950. Composed of contemporaneous letters and diaries, oral histories, interviews, and other personal narratives, the series provides a rich source for scholars in a wide range of disciplines. In selected cases, users will be able to hear the actual audio voices of the immigrants. The collection will be particularly useful to researchers, because much of the original material is difficult to find, poorly indexed, and unpublished most bibliographies of the immigrant focus on secondary research and few oral histories have been published. Access restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.

North American Women's Letters and Diaries, Colonial-1950. When complete, North American Women's Letters and Diaries will be the largest collection of women's diaries and correspondence ever assembled. Spanning more than 300 years, it will bring the personal experiences of 1,500 women to researchers, students, and general readers. Sample search: click on Browse, then Personal Events, and then choose Emigration for a list of 141 documents. Access restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.

Oral History Interviews (Hope College/Holland Joint Archives).. An extensive collection of oral history transcripts covering a variety of events, ethnic groups, and citizens of Holland, Michigan. Includes sections on members of the Hispanic community (1990), Dutch immigrants (1992), Hispanic residents (1993), and Asian and African American Residents (1994).

Oral History Online. Try searching the terms immigrant or immigration.

Red Star Line Museum (Belgium). Between 1873 and 1934, the legendary Red Star Line transported more than two million European passengers to America. At the port in Antwerp, Belgium, emigrants in steerage class underwent disinfection and medical examinations while clerks scrutinized their documents. Today three warehouses stand as a testament to this emigrant experience. In 2012, Red Star Line / People on the Move will open a new museum at this historic location. It will be a place of remembrance, experience, debate and research into international mobility, both past and present. Millions of passengers travelled with Red Star Line, they told hundreds of stories to their (grand)children about their journey. Read selected stories.

Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600 - 2000. A resource for students and scholars of U.S. history and U.S. women's history. Organized around the history of women in social movements in the U.S. between 1700 and 2000, the website seeks to advance scholarly debates and understanding at the same time that it makes the insights of women's history accessible to teachers and students at universities, colleges, and high schools. The database includes more than 25,000 pages of documents pertaining to Women and Social Movements, a dictionary of social movements and organizations, a chronology of U.S. women's history, and teaching tools with lesson ideas and document-based questions related to the website's document projects. Sample search: click on Browse, then Immigration for 162 documents

Swedish Roots in oregon

Our newest book, Swedes in Oregon, is now available for purchase. The cost of a copy is $21.99 plus shipping by priority mail ($7.75). The book is filled with authentic vintage photos depicting the contributions of Swedish immigrants to the development of the state of Oregon. Many of the photos are from private collections made available to the authors, David A. Anderson and Ann Baudin Stuller

Watch the video! Order your copy here

Photographs taken by J F Ford in the early 1900’s are featured in our latest book “Swedes in Oregon.” Those photographs were taken back to Sweden by Herman Olsson who spent several years working in the forests along the lower Columbia River. Herman is wearing a white shirt and dark hat in each of those photos, which are now in the possession of Unnie Malmén. The original black and white photograph which is found on page 74 of “Swedes in Oregon” has been colorized for this recently acquired postcard published by E P Charlton & Co., Portland. E P Charlton Co., published postcards from 1899-1912.

SRIO has a new address as of June, 2020:

PO Box 90242
Portland, OR 97290-0242

Upcoming Events

Oregon Midsummer Festival at Nordic Center
Saturday 6/12 at 11 am - 2 pm & 3 pm - 6 pm
*** Our books will be on sale at at discount ***
(All tickets to the event are sold out)

Do you have any old photos, documents or letters?

SRIO wants to archive old photos, documents and letters that are relevant to the Swedish immigration to Oregon. We can scan and return them if you provide a return address.
Contact [email protected] for details.

SRIO Needs Web Help

SRIO seeks to design a new website! Do you have website design experience? Are you interested in volunteering your time to help SRIO make the leap to a responsive, mobile friendly website? If so, please contact David Anderson at [email protected]

A Brief History

Swedish Roots in Oregon (SRIO) was formed in 1999 when Ross Fogelquist of Oregon’s New Sweden Cultural Heritage Society suggested that a project be initiated to research, document, and preserve the rich history of Oregon’s Swedish immigrants. Due to the extensive effort that would be required for such a project it was decided that a separate organization be formed to carry out the project. It was also recommended that this new group was to be a small, tightly focused research organization unencumbered by the responsibilities of maintaining a general membership. Read more.

Olof Grafström A Swedish Artist in Portland 1886 - 1890

Olof Grafström (1855 – 1933) was born in Attmar, Medelpad, the son of a well-to-do farmer. In 1875 he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, where he became a protégé of Per Daniel Holm and was considered one of his most promising students. He graduated in 1882 as an accomplished landscape painter. During his years at the academy Grafström was a contemporary and friend of Swedish artists such as Anders Zorn, Bruno Liljefors, Richard Bergh, and Johan Tirén.
Read more and see the pictures.

Selma Lagerlöf

A hundred years ago, Selma Lagerlöf had an admiring reader in the United States named Samuel Magnus Hill. He was a Professor of Swedish literature and served as one of the editors of Ungdomsvännen [Youth‘s Friend], an illustrated Swedish-American ―Magazine for the Home. Read more from links on the Hill page.

Samuel Magnus Hill

Theses biographical portraits of Samuel Magnus Hill have been written by James Iverne Dowie and Lars Nordström. Dowie’s chapters were originally included as two separate chapters in his doctoral thesis and they describes Hill’s life from his arrival in the United States in 1868 to his move to Oregon in 1915. Read more.

Ernst Skarstedt's Biographies

In 1911, the well-known Swedish-American journalist Ernst Skarstedt finished the third volume in his trilogy of Swedes in the Far West, Oregon och dess svenska befolkning [Oregon and its Swedish population]. The book covered the period 1880 to 1910, and it was organized in the same way as its two predecessors – it began with a general history of the state, moved on to the various activities of the Swedes, and concluded with a substantial biographical section of prominent Swedish immigrants.
Read more.