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Collecting Policy

Mission Statement

The Swenson Center is a national archives and research library providing resources for the study of Swedish immigration to North America, the communities the immigrants established, and the role immigrants and their descendants have played in American life. This is achieved by promoting and initiating academic research in the field and by collecting, preserving, and promoting access to the Swenson Centers' archival and library materials. Another major role for the Center is to assist people researching their Swedish-American family genealogy.

Purpose of the Collection Development Policy

  • to further our mission as a national archives and repository for the study of Swedish immigration to North America 
  • to inform our patrons of selection principles and encourage donations of materials that support our mission
  • to aid Swenson Center staff in selection of materials (both purchases and gifts)

Book Collection

The Swenson Center strives to provide researchers with a comprehensive and in-depth view of the Swedish immigrant experience in North America. For a more detailed description of the various subject collections, please see our library's page. The current strength of the library's collection is in the areas of:

  • histories of Swedish settlements in the U.S. and Canada
  • Swedish-American literature & fine arts
  • publications of Swedish-American organizations and institutions
  • Swedish-American music, both secular and devotional
  • Swedish travelers and visitors to the North American continent 1840-present
  • Swedish-American religious life, including denominational histories
  • Swedish-American biography and family history
  • Swedish local history and genealogy

To broaden and strengthen the current collection, the library seeks to collect in the areas listed below. Please note that the list does not preclude purchasing of other material when the staff regards it useful for researchers and general reference work.

Primary Focus

  • all works published in the area of Swedish-American and Swedish immigration to North America
  • pamphlets and publications published by independent presses and private individuals in Sweden, the United States and Canada pertaining to all aspects of Swedish-American studies and Swedish immigration to North America
  • published biographical works and family histories
  • new scholarly work in the field of Scandinavian-American immigration history

Secondary Coverage

  • comparative studies: United States-Sweden 1900 to present, in English
  • Swedish national history early 1800s to present, in English
  • Swedish emigration to countries other than the United States and Canada, in English and Swedish
  • Swedish ethnic studies, in English
  • Swedish art and literature, in English

Electronic Sources / Microfilms

The Center currently has a large collection of microfilms of Swedish-American churches, Swedish-American newspapers, passenger indexes from Sweden, parish records from Kopparbergs and Kronobergs län, as well as many other Swedish name indexes. In addition, the Center subscribes to online images of the Swedish parish records.

The Swenson Center will purchase and subscribe to:

  • Swedish Genealogy e-resources
  • online subscriptions to Swedish parish records
  • individual databases and indexes
  • Swedish-American church records on microfilm
  • other Swedish-American online- and print resources

Selection and tools

The Head of Library has the main responsibility for the selection of material for the library, but all staff members are encouraged to participate in the process. Items selected and purchased must support the general mission of the Center.

Selection tools

  • Libris
  • Independent publishers in the United States and Sweden
  • Swedish American Historical Society
  • Åkerbloms universitetsbokhandel
  • Minnesota Historical Society Press
  • Släkhistoriskt Forum

Gifts - Swenson Center Library

The Swenson Center welcomes donations of library materials. Gifts from patrons have helped the Center to strengthen and broaden its collections and improve services to the Swedish-American community. All printed material which documents all sectors of the Swedish-American community will be considered, regardless of format or characteristic. However, the following list is especially vital to our mission.

  • books and pamphlets on all subjects published in Swedish in North America 1840s to present
  • publications published by the Augustana Book Concern, Rock Island, Illinois, Engberg & Holmberg in Chicago, and other small publishing houses in the United States, 1840s to 1930s
  • publications issued by Swedish-American organizations, both current and defunct
  • anniversary booklets from Swedish-American congregations (Lutheran, Covenant, Methodist, etc.)
  • printed family histories and genealogies are accepted if they are compiled as a book and include: title page with full title; compiler's name and date of compilation/publication; page numbering; and preferably a name index. Please see this link for further ideas on how you can compile a valuable family history. (Link pending)

Types of gift generally not accepted

  • Swedish Bibles and hymnals
  • duplicates
  • books in poor condition (mildew- or mold-infested, dirty, or items with missing or torn pages)

Acquisition process

All donors are encouraged to consult with the Swenson Center staff to discuss the suitability of the materials they wish to donate. Please do not bring or send boxes without consulting the staff first. If a donation is accepted by the Swenson Center a gift agreement form will be sent to the donor to be signed and returned, which outlines the following information:

  • Swenson Center accession number
  • Swenson Center cannot accept the responsibility to notify the donor of possible future withdrawals
  • Swenson Center cannot estimate the dollar value of books donated to its library


Deaccessions are rare but will be considered when a library item is:  

  • in poor condition and cannot be properly preserved or used
  • can be replaced by an identical copy in better physical condition
  • a duplication of an item SSIRC has in another collection (further explanation on our library page) 


The Swenson Center Archives collects, preserves, and promotes the use of unpublished primary source material that documents the Swedish immigration and the Swedish-American experience in North America.

The current strengths of the archival material are in the areas of:

  • letters to early Augustana Synod pastors
  • personal papers of prominent business people
  • organizational and institutional records
  • autobiographical accounts and family papers

For further details on specific manuscript and/or organizational records please see the listing on


The Swenson Center acquires most of its material through donations from individuals and organizations. It is the procedure of the Center to encourage donations as long as the material supports our mission and is considered to be of historical value.

In addition to acquiring records that enhance and strengthen the current holdings, the Center is also seeking materials such as:

  • personal papers of Swedish-American individuals, businesses, and organizations
  • photographs depicting Swedish immigrant life in the cities, e.g. store fronts, people working, photographs of gatherings and festivals.
  • diaries and journals (especially of underrepresented groups such as women, professionals, and working-class people)
  • correspondence between immigrants in North America and between immigrants and family in Sweden
  • records from Swedish-American organizations 1840s to present

Acquisition process

Donors are encouraged to consult with the Swenson Center staff to discuss the suitability of the materials they wish to donate before bringing or sending us materials. If a donation is accepted by the Swenson Center a deed of gift form will be sent to the donor to be signed and returned, which outlines the following information:

  • explains the transfer of property to the Swenson Center, including copyright, trademark, and related interests
  • description of the gift
  • accession number

Upon the signature of the donor and return of the deed of gift form, it will be saved in a secure place and noted in the accessions management database. Gifts not accompanied by a deed of gift form will not be accessioned into the Swenson Center's archival collection.

We appreciate your support and ask that you contact us if you have any other question about the Swenson Center's archival holdings.


The Center promotes the use of its materials and allows for photocopying and scanning of documents except when documents are too frail to be handled or in cases of restrictions set by the donor. The Center will not, however, allow for photocopying or scanning of entire collections. Please see our duplication policy for further details. 

This document will be revised periodically as necessary, and submitted to the Advisory Committee for approval.

Last updated February, 2011