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Swedish Americans are Americansmarker of Swedishmarker descent, most often related to the large groups of immigrants from Swedenmarker in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Most Swedish Americans are Lutherans affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), or Methodists.


Passport of Hilmer Emmanuel Salomonsson, 1921 From Guldsmedshyttan, Sweden to Worcester, MA

The first known Swedish Americans were the settlers of New Sweden. A colony established by Queen Christina of Sweden in 1638, it centered around the Delaware Valley including parts of the present-day states of Delawaremarker, New Jerseymarker, and Pennsylvaniamarker. New Sweden was incorporated into New Netherlands in 1655 and ceased to be an official territory of the Realm of Sweden. However, many Swedish and Finnish colonists remained and were allowed some political and cultural autonomy. Modern day reminders of the history of New Sweden are reflected in the presence of the American Swedish Historical Museummarker in Philadelphiamarker, Fort Christina State Parkmarker in Wilmington, Delawaremarker, Governor Printz Park and The Printzhofmarker in Essington, Pennsylvaniamarker.

Swedish emigration to the United States had reached new heights in 1896, and it was in this year that the Vasa Order of America, a Swedish American fraternal organization, was founded to help immigrants, who often lacked an adequate network of social services. Swedish Americans usually came through New York Citymarker and subsequently settled in the upper Midwest. Most were Lutheran and belonged to synods now associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, including the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church. Theologically, they were pietistic; politically they often supported progressive causes and prohibition.

In the year 1900, Chicagomarker was the city with the second highest number of Swedes after Stockholmmarker, the capital of Sweden. Many others settled in Minnesotamarker in particular, followed by Wisconsinmarker; as well as New Yorkmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, Michiganmarker, Iowamarker, Nebraskamarker and Illinoismarker. Like their Norwegian American and Danish American brethren, many Swedes sought out the rural lifestyle they had left behind in Sweden, as many immigrants formed or settled in small towns and parishes throughout the Midwest. In the east, New England became a destination for many skilled industrial workers and Swedish centers developed in areas such as Jamestown, NYmarker; Providence, RImarker, and Boston, MAmarker. A small Swedish settlement was also begun in New Sweden, Mainemarker.

The largest settlement in New England was Worcester, MAmarker. Here, Swedes were drawn to the city's wire and abrasive industries. By the early 20th Century numerous churches, organizations, businesses, and benevolent associations had been organized. Among them, the Swedish Cemetery Corporation (1885), the Swedish Lutheran Old People's Home(1920), Fairlawn Hospital (1921), and the Scandinavian Athletic Club (1923). These institutions survive today, although some have mainstreamed their names. Numerous local lodges of national Swedish American organizations also flourished and a few remain solvent as of 2008. Within the city's largest historic "Swedish" neighborhood-Quinsigamond Village—street signs read like a map of Sweden: Stockholm Street, Halmstad Street, and Malmo Street among others. Worcester's Swedes were historically staunch Republicans and this political loyalty is behind why Worcester remained a Republican stronghold in an otherwise Democratic state well into the 1950s.

One notable Swedish family from Worcester was the Asplund Family. Carl Asplund and his wife Selma were originally from Alseda, Sweden and settled in Worcester around the turn of the century. They had four children in the United States; Filip, Clarence, and Twins Carl Jr and Lillian. Around 1908, the family moved back to Sweden to oversee the family farm after Carl's father died. While there, another son, Felix, was born. In 1912, the Asplunds made arrangements to return to America aboard the new luxury liner Titanicmarker. The family was shattered that fateful night. Selma, Felix, and Lillian escaped the sinking, but Carl and his three other sons perished that night. Lillian Asplund was known as one of the last remaining Titanic Survivors at the turn of the 21st century and remained so until her death in 2006.

Many Swedes also came to the Pacific Northwest during the turn of the twentieth century, along with Norwegians. The Swedish immigrants that arrived in recent decades settled mostly in the suburbs of New York and Los Angeles.


few small towns in the U.S. have retained a few visible Swedish characteristics. Some examples include Silverhill, Alabamamarker; Cambridge, Minnesotamarker; Lindstrom, Minnesotamarker; Karlstad, Minnesotamarker; Lindsborg, Kansasmarker; Gothenburg, Nebraskamarker; Oakland, Nebraskamarker; Andover, Illinoismarker; Kingsburg, Californiamarker; and Bishop Hill, Illinoismarker.

Around 3.9% of the U.S. population is said to have Scandinavian heritage (which also includes Norwegian Americans, Danish Americans, Finnish Americans, and Icelandic Americans). At present, according to the 2005 American Family Survey, only 56,324 Americans continue to speak Swedish language at home, which is down from 67,655 in 2000.[142854] Most of them being recent immigrants. Swedish American communities typically switched to English by 1920. Swedish is rarely taught in high schools or colleges, and Swedish language newspapers or magazines are rare.

Swedish Americans by state

The ten states with the most Swedish Americans The ten states with the most Swedish Americans in their populations (by percentage) 1 Minnesotamarker 486,507 1 Minnesotamarker 9.9% 2 Californiamarker 459,897 2 North Dakotamarker 5.0% 3 Illinoismarker 303,044 3 Nebraskamarker 4.9% 4 Washingtonmarker 213,134 4 Utahmarker 4.3% 5 Michiganmarker 161,301 5 South Dakotamarker 3.9% 6 Floridamarker 155,010 6 Washingtonmarker 3.6% 7 Wisconsinmarker 149,977 7 Idahomarker 3.5% 8 New Yorkmarker 133,788 8 Wyomingmarker 3.5% 9 Texasmarker 127,871 9 Montanamarker 3.4% 10 Massachusettsmarker 119,267 10 Iowamarker 3.3%

See also


Scholarly secondary sources

  • Anderson, Philip J. and Dag Blanck, eds. Swedish-American Life in Chicago: Cultural and Urban Aspects of an Immigrant People, 1850-1930 (1992)
  • Benson, Adolph B. and Naboth Hedin, eds. Swedes in America, 1638-1938. (1938)
  • Beijbom, Ulf. The Historiography of Swedish America (Swedish Pioneer Historical Quarterly 31. 1980: 257-85)
  • Blanck, Dag. The Creation of an Ethnic Identity: Being Swedish American in the Augustana Synod, 1860-1917, (Southern Illinois University Press; 256 pages; 2007).
  • Johnson, Amandus. The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware, 1638-1664 (Two Volumes. International Printing Company, Philadelphia. 1911-1927)
  • Kvisto, P., and D. Blanck, eds. 1990. American Immigrants and Their Generations: Studies and Commentaries on the Hansen Thesis after Fifty Years. (University of Illinois Press).
  • Lovoll, Odd S. ed., Nordics in America: The Future of Their Past (Northfield, Minn., Norwegian American Historic Association. 1993)
  • Nelson, Helge. The Swedes and the Swedish Settlements in North America 2 vols. (Lund, 1943)
  • Ostergren, R. C. 1988. A Community Transplanted: The Trans-Atlantic Experience of a Swedish Immigrant Settlement in the Upper Middle West, 1835-1915. (University of Wisconsin Press).
  • Pearson, D. M. 1977. The Americanization of Carl Aaron Swensson. (Rock Island, Ill.: Augustana Historical Society).
  • Pihlblad, C. T. 1932. The Kansas Swedes. (Southwestern Social Science Quarterly. 13: 34-47)
  • Runblom, Harald and Hans Norman. From Sweden to America: A History of the Migration (Uppsala and Minneapolis, 1976)
  • Schnell, Steven M. Creating Narratives of Place and Identity in "Little Sweden, U.S.A." (The Geographical Review, Vol. 93, 2003)
  • Stephenson, George M. The Religious Aspects of Swedish Immigration (1932).
  • Swanson, Alan. Literature and the Immigrant Community: The Case of Arthur Landfors (Southern Illinois University Press, 1990)

Primary sources

  • Barton, H. Arnold, ed. Letters from the Promised Land: Swedes in America, 1840-1914. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press for the Swedish Pioneer Historical Society, 1975.)

External links

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