The Full Wiki

Swedish American: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swedish American

Carl Sandburg NYWTS.jpgWalter Johnson.jpg
File-Uma Thurman at the Tribeca Film Festival 4.jpgWilliam Rehnquist.jpg
LindberghStLouis.jpgKim Basinger (1990).jpg
Aldrin.jpgGreta Garbo in Meyers Blitz-Lexikon 1932.jpg

Notable Swedish Americans:
Carl SandburgWalter Johnson
Uma ThurmanWilliam Rehnquist
Charles LindberghKim Basinger
Buzz AldrinGreta Garbo

Total population
1.5% of the US population
Regions with significant populations
Midwestern United States, especially Minnesota, Maine

American English, Swedish


Predominantly Lutheran, Church of Sweden, other Protestant, Catholic, and Mormon minorities

Related ethnic groups

Swedes, Swedish Canadians, Scandinavian Americans, Finnish Americans, German Americans, Austrian Americans, Dutch Americans, English Americans, Danish Americans, Norwegian Americans

Swedish Americans are Americans of Swedish descent, most often related to the large groups of immigrants from Sweden 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.[2]



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 Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. 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 Museum in Philadelphia, Fort Christina State Park in Wilmington, Delaware, Governor Printz Park and The Printzhof in Essington, Pennsylvania.[3]

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 City 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, Chicago was the city with the second highest number of Swedes after Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Many others settled in Minnesota in particular, followed by Wisconsin; as well as New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois. 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, NY; Providence, RI, and Boston, MA. A small Swedish settlement was also begun in New Sweden, Maine.

The largest settlement in New England was Worcester, MA. 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 Titanic. 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.


Distribution of Swedish Americans according to the 2000 census

A few small towns in the U.S. have retained a few visible Swedish characteristics. Some examples include Silverhill, Alabama; Cambridge, Minnesota; Lindstrom, Minnesota; Karlstad, Minnesota; Lindsborg, Kansas; Gothenburg, Nebraska; Oakland, Nebraska; Andover, Illinois; Kingsburg, California; and Bishop Hill, Illinois.

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.[1] 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 Minnesota 486,507 1 Minnesota 9.9%
2 California 459,897 2 North Dakota 5.0%
3 Illinois 303,044 3 Nebraska 4.9%
4 Washington 213,134 4 Utah 4.3%
5 Michigan 161,301 5 South Dakota 3.9%
6 Florida 155,010 6 Washington 3.6%
7 Wisconsin 149,977 7 Idaho 3.5%
8 New York 133,788 8 Wyoming 3.5%
9 Texas 127,871 9 Montana 3.4%
10 Massachusetts 119,267 10 Iowa 3.3%

See also


  1. ^ "Census 2006 ACS Ancestry estimates"
  2. ^ Barton, H. Arnold 1994; A Folk Divided: Homeland Swedes and Swedish-Americans, 1840-1940. (Southern Illinois University Press)
  3. ^ Lazzerini, Rickie Where Did The Swedes Go? The Causes of Swedish Immigration and Settlement Patterns in America (University of California, Santa Barbara. 2005)

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


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address