Main content

American Swedish Historical Museum document and photograph collection


Held at: American Swedish Historical Museum [Contact Us]1900 Pattison Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19145

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the American Swedish Historical Museum. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley was New Sweden, a colony founded by Swedish emigrants in 1638. Swedish sovereignty over the colony lasted less than 20 years, although Swedes continued to settle in the area and exerted an influence over its cultural development. Swedish immigration to the United States rose sharply for the period from 1867 and 1914, when difficult economic conditions in Sweden and cheap land in the United States encouraged many to make the journey. Most immigrants chose not to settle in the Philadelphia area, and instead moved farther west to Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, California and Washington--the states which still have the highest numbers of Swedish-American today. Nonetheless, the Philadelphia area remains a locus for Swedish-American culture because it was the site of the first Swedish settlement in the United States. In 1926, Sweden's Crown Prince (Later King Gustav VI Adolf) placed a cornerstone for the American Swedish Historical Museum in southern Philadelphia. Construction was delayed due to the Great Depression, but the museum was dedicated during the tercentenary celebration of the New Sweden colony in 1938 (which was marked by another visit from the Swedish royal family).


American Swedish Historical Museum. "History of the Museum." Accessed March 15, 2012.

The Swedish Colonial Society. "A Brief History of New Sweden in America." Accessed March 15, 2012.

This assembled collection consists of miscellaneous documents and photographs collected by the American Swedish Historical Museum. It includes correspondence, printed broadsides, certificates, deeds, manuscripts and stage scripts, photographs, glass and film negatives, Speakophone recordings, and many other document types. The materials relate to Americans of Swedish descent, Sweden and Swedish culture, the founding of the Swedish American Historical Museum, and associated topics. An item-level inventory covering part of the collection is available on-site.

There are several small series of family and personal papers (less than one linear foot, and often less than an inch) in this collection. These families include, but are not limited to, the Hultgren family, Carlson family (ancestors of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's wife Mamie, circa 1905), Gertrude Sahlin (1890-1910), and Vertil Lindberg (1965-1970). There is also some correspondence associated with Civil War Colonel Ulrich Dahlgren, circa 1865, and a manuscript by Admiral John Dahlgren entitled, "Life of Ulrich Dahlgren."

Materials relating to industrial history and manufacture include: a binder of photographs of Tyden Industries in Hastings, Mich., circa 1930-1950; two binders, one of patents and one of photos of models associated with S. R. Bergman, circa 1920-1935; one binder of patents associated with Frank Mossberg, circa 1890-1933; patents granted to Josef Henrik Hallberg; thesis on Hallberg Railway System, 1905.

The collection includes documents and memorabilia relating to various Swedish-American organizations, such as Majblomman (circa 1920-1935), Swedish Youth Club of New York, the Vasa Order of America, and the San Francisco-based Tre Kronor, Commonwealth Club, and Utlands Svenskarna. There is also a sizeable series of documents and photographs relating to Swedish churches and religious organizations in the United States, compiled by Rev. P. E. Nordgen, circa 1900-1936.

A large amount of material in the collection documents visits to the United States by the Swedish royal family, the founding of the American Swedish Historical Museum, and New Sweden Tercentenary celebrations.

Photographs, family photograph albums, lantern slides, glass plate negatives, and film negatives are all represented in this collection. There are also Speakophone recordings of President Roosevelt, Prince Bertil of Sweden, and Governor MacMullen of Delaware at dedication exercises in Wilmington, Delaware in 1938.

In the Nord Library, there are three manuscripts for plays: "Sabinskornas Bortröfvande"; "Ljungby horne" by Carl Liljegrert; and "Lifvet på landet" by Frans Hedberg; "Öregrund-Östhammar" by A. Strand (performed at Studebecker Theater in Chicago, 1902).

American Swedish Historical Museum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

Contact American Swedish Historical Museum for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest