History of Swedish Americans – Swedish Emigration to USA

Swedish flag on National day
Swedish flag

History of Swedish Americans – Swedish Emigration to USA

Swedish American History
Swedish American

Do you know about Swedish Americans? or maybe about Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, IL, USA? Or maybe you want to know more about Large Swedish Emigration to the USA. We have all answers for you.

Swedish Emigration to USA – History

People have been emigrating to the United States for hundreds of years, yet one group stands out more than any other. That group is the Swedish Americans because, between the years of 1851 and 1910, more than one million people left Sweden and made their way across the ocean to the United States of America. The number of people who left the country was devastatingly high and it immediately affected both the population growth and the labor markets in Sweden.

Those who chose to stay in Sweden found themselves facing a lack of farmland, failing crops, and low paying jobs in fields that they did not wish to work in. They were also limited in their faith, as they had to follow the beliefs of the state church.

The people who emigrated wanted to live somewhere better and they knew that they could find excellent farmland that was accessible at low costs as well as higher wages for the work that they performed once they reached the United States. One additional item that was the deciding factor for many of the emigrants was the religious freedom that they would gain once they arrived in America.

The number of emigrants from Sweden was low in the beginning, but once word reached relatives and friends back in the home country of how amazing America was, people arrived by the thousands. In fact, by the 1870s, the cost to travel from Sweden to the United States had reached a new low and during the 1880s, the railroads began offering special deals to the Swedish emigrants. The railroad created a package where they would transport the family as well as their furniture and farm tools to the United States and allowed them to pay the cost in payments over the next few years.

This special package brought people over in droves and according to the United States Census, there were almost 800,000 Swedish Americans in the United States by 1890. The number of emigrants dwindled after that and after 1920, the numbers were even lower.

The people who did emigrate to the United States from Sweden formed tight-knit communities out in the Midwest and they only married other Swedish Americans. Almost all of them were Lutheran Christians, but there were a few that chose to become Methodists. However, these emigrants were not the first people from Sweden to live in America.

The very first Swedish Americans settled in the colony of New Sweden in 1638. This colony included sections of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey and was incorporated into the colony of New Netherland in 1655. Some of these emigrants stayed in the area, while others ventured out towards the West during the influx of emigrants during later years.

By 1900, the city of Chicago had the highest number of Swedes in the United States and the second highest number in the world. Only the city of Stockholm could claim that they had more Swedes living there. Many of these people found whatever jobs they could when they arrived in the United States so that they could save enough money to purchase a farm of their own and begin to live and work as they had back in Sweden. Young, single women were in high demand as live-in housemaids and the money and benefits that they received were far better than what they would have received in their own country.

Of course, the Swedish Americans did not embrace the American way of life completely, so they created certain places where they would feel welcomed. Three of these places are the Swedish American Institute, the Swedish American Hospital, and the Swedish American Museum.

Swedish American Institute

The Swedish American Institute in Minneapolis allows people to gather and experience Swedish culture and art while connecting to their past and planning their future. Everything within the Turnblad Mansion and the Nelson Cultural Center links back to Sweden and engages visitors completely.

While inside the museum, guests can see the Wallenberg Library as well as the Material Collections. There are also four exhibits currently on display, including Cows Can Dream, Light Grey Art Lab, Still Life Karin Broos, and A to Zåäö Exploring ASI’s collection. People should note that these exhibits are temporary and could be changed at any time.

The Swedish American Hospital

The Swedish American Hospital was founded in 1911 and its doors were opened in 1918 with fifty-five beds. This is a teaching hospital that is located in Rockford, Illinois and operated by the Swedish American Health System. They currently have three hundred and fifty-seven beds, due to expansions and renovations that have taken place over the years.

During the expansions and renovations, the hospital managed to revitalize the neighborhoods near the hospital and old buildings were torn down and new ones constructed. While the hospital was originally designed to assist the growing Swedish American population in the area, it now helps people from all over the area who are in need of emergency or routine health care.

The Swedish American Museum

The Swedish American Museum filled a need in the Andersonville, or Little Sweden, area of Chicago, where thousands of Swedish Americans call home. The twenty-four thousand square foot museum opened in 1976 and is complete with a gallery, the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration, a library, genealogy center, and a store.

The museum’s main exhibit is The Dream of America Swedish Immigration to Chicago, but they also have special exhibits throughout the year, including Nordic, which is a photographic essay of landscapes, food, and people, Chicago Streetwalk, and Christina Juran.

After a trip to the museum, many people will stay in the area to sample traditional Swedish food and buy gifts. Traditional Swedish holidays of Midsommar and Julmiddag are also celebrated in this part of town and this is where practically every Swedish American in the area can be found during those times.

Swedish Americans began to arrive in the United States more than one hundred years ago as they looked for a better life and they not only changed their life but the life of Americans as well. Thanks to their dedication to their heritage, other Americans can learn about Swedish history and culture, plus see magnificent works of art.

While they founded the museum, institute, and hospital as a way to help themselves, they are now helping and educating hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, which is a great legacy to be remembered by.