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Archive Record

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Catalog Number M-0003
Object Name Manuscript
Collection American Swedish Institute - Internal Records
Title American Swedish Institute Records
Year Range from 1940
Year Range to 2014
Scope & Content This collection is comprised of management, financial, exhibit, collection, program, newsletter, education, and other records of the American Swedish Institute.
Biographical Information The American Swedish Institute is housed in a turn of the 20th century mansion that was built for Swedish immigrants Swan and Christina Turnblad. Swan Turnblad immigrated with his family to the United States in 1868 at the age of eight. His parents made the decision to leave their farm in the famine-ridden area of Småland, Sweden. The family settled in a Swedish community called Vasa in southern Minnesota where they joined relatives who had settled in the area earlier.

Swan Turnblad was not content to continue in the family farming tradition. In 1879, Turnblad left Vasa for Minneapolis where he lived the quintessential rags-to-riches American success story. After he moved to Minneapolis, Turnblad worked at several Swedish language newspapers as a typesetter. His interest in the printing industry eventually led to his success as publisher of the Swedish language newspaper Svenska Amerikanska Posten. Within ten years, he was the sole owner. Under his management, circulation of the weekly paper soared to over 40,000, a substantial increase from the 1,400 it initially claimed. This publication was likely the principal source of Turnblad's wealth.

The success of the paper was a result of Turnblad's aggressive management style, as well as the large numbers of Swedish immigrants who supported it. He created a technically advanced newspaper by using the best printing equipment available. He was the first Swedish publisher in America to set his paper by Linotype machine. In 1903, Svenska Amerikanska Posten became the first Swedish language paper to use a duplex rotary color printing press, enabling the creation of color illustrations.

In Minneapolis Swan met and married Christina Nilsson. She, like Turnblad, had come to America from Sweden with her family. Her family settled in Worthington, Minnesota in 1876 when Christina was 15. Her first job in America paid no wages, but gave her work experience and English language training. Later she worked as a waitress for one year. In 1882, Christina moved to Minneapolis where she met the young newspaper man at a Good Templar meeting. They were married in 1883 and their only child, Lillian Zenobia, was born a year later.

In the early 20th century, the Turnblads started to plan the building of their palatial estate. Their many trips to Europe certainly influenced their decision on the stately chateau style of the mansion and the ornate designs of the interior. The property on Park Avenue was purchased in 1903 and plans were drawn up by the Minneapolis architectural firm of Christopher A. Boehme and Victor Cordella. The structure took nearly five years to build. The Turnblads did not take out a mortgage on this property during construction. Bills were paid as they came due and there are no records of construction costs. When the museum was founded in 1929, the Minneapolis Tribune reported, “the cost is believed to have been close to $1,000,000 although this is a matter the builder does not discuss.”

The transition from private residence to museum happened in 1929 when the family donated the house and the newspaper to establish the American Institute for Swedish Arts, Literature and Science (later changed to the American Swedish Institute). Turnblad stated that he had long planned for the home to be a Swedish-American institute. He was quoted as saying, “many persons may have wondered what a small family like ours, a family which had not great social ambitions, wanted with so big a house. Perhaps they can guess now.” The mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since its establishment the American Swedish Institute has served as a cultural center and gathering place that shares and celebrates its connection to Sweden, and has always been a major center for Swedish Americans in the Upper Midwest and Minnesota in particular. The organization houses object, library and archives collections and puts on regular museum exhibits. In addition, there are extensive programming and events, educational offerings for adults and children, a robust volunteer program, many Swedish heritage clubs, a robust membership, and a museum shop. In 2012 the ASI added the new building, the Nelson Cultural Center, to its campus to expand its offerings, including new exhibit spaces, a new museum shop space, FIKA cafe, collections storage, studio classroom, and other modern amenities. The organization is a 501(3)(c) and serves its members, its local Phillips West community, and the general public. The mission is to serve as a gathering place for all people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden.
People Turnblad, Swan J., 1860-1933.
Turnblad, Lillian Z., 1884-1943.
Albinson, Elmer.
Karstadt, Bruce.
Turnblad, Christina, 1861-1929.
Series in Collection Collection is arranged in 7 series; subseries listed below series and folder names listed in parenthesis after subseries.

1. Management
Board of Trustees (Meeting minutes, 1929-1953; Meeting minutes, 1954-1960; Meeting minutes, 1962-1966; Meeting minutes, 1967-1973; Meeting minutes, 1974-1977; Meeting audio cassette recordings, 1977, 1978, and 1995; Meeting minutes, 1951; 1982; 1983; 1984; 1985; 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989; 1990; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994; 1995; 1996; 1997; 1998; Independent report, 1994; List of presidents of the Board, 1929-1987, with clippings; MAP reports)

Committees (Ad hoc committees; Development committee materials; Education committee materials; Finance committee materials; General information about committees; Membership committee materials; Property committee materials)

Executive Director (Clippings, articles, and biographical materials on directors; Executive director's reports, 1980s; Executive director's reports, 1990s; List of executive directors, 1989-present; Director search - 1990; Director Files--Elmer Albinson; Albin Widén correspondence; Dag Hammarskjöld materials; Folke Hedblom correspondence and materials; Eric Norelius materials; Gerda Boëthius correspondence; Mandelina Oberg correspondence and materials)

Mission and Vision (Five year plan, 1987; Focus areas, 2000; Mission statements)

Employment Practices (Employee benefits; Staff listings; Correspondence regarding employment; Job descriptions)

Legal documents (Articles of incorporation, 1950; Articles of incorporation and by-laws booklets; Articles of incorporation documents; Business contracts, 1940s-1950s; Business contracts, 1980s; Bylaws 1950-1990; Bylaws, undated; National Register of Historic Places forms; National Register of Historic Places inventory form, 1971; Notes on meetings discussing changes to bylaws)

General correspondence (1929-1938; 1940-1949; 1960-1969; 1970-1979; 1980-2000)

Proceedings (1931-1935; 1936-1939; 1940-1949)

Annual reports (1969; 1970; 1971; 1972; 1973; 1974; 1975; 1976; 1977; 1980; 1981; 1982; 1983; 1984; 1985; 1986; 1987; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994; 1995; 1996; 1997-1998; 2000; 2001-2002; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; 2006-2007; 2007-2008; 2008-2009; 2009-2010; 2010-2011; 2012-2013; 2014; 2015; 2016)

2. Finances
Financial reports (1930; 1931; 1933; 1934; 1935; 1937; 1938; 1939; 1940; 1941; 1942; 1944; 1945; 1946; 1947; 1948; 1950; 1953; 1954; 1955; 1956; 1957; 1958; 1959; 1960; 1961; 1962; 1963; 1964; 1965; 1966; 1968; 1969; 1970; 1971; 1972; 1973; 1974; 1975; 1976; 1977; 1980; 1987; 1993; 1995; 1996; 1997; Comparative receipts, 1956-1961)

Receipts and Notes (Account register, 1930-1948; Check stubs, 1991-1992)

Insurance (Insurance record, 1930-1939; Insurance receipts, 1943-1947, 1950; Insurance summaries)

Taxes (Federal tax documents; Real estate tax receipts; Property tax dispute, 1932, Income tax liability, 1941)

Donations (Monetary and in-kind gifts, 1960-1961; Property transfer document, 1967; Swedish Heritage Fund, 1991)

Loans (Property improvement loan application, 1952)

Building maintenance (Structural maintenance, 1943-1953, 1983-1993; Lease and sale negotiations, 1943-1953)

3. Exhibits, Collections, and Programs Department

Turnblad subject files (Articles and information on Aaron Carlson and family; Ann-Kristin Gabrielsson genealogy; Articles on Swan Turnblad's automobiles; Contacts for ASI history project by Dianne Kramer; Correspondence with Tim Turnblad; Gertrude Gump manuscripts on Swan Turnblad; Information on Boehme and Cordella; Information on Edward Turnblad family; Information on extended family of Christina Nilsson Turnblad; Information on Kieckhefer Elevator Company; Information on Magnus Turnblad; Information on Paul Fridlund; Information on Turnblad relative Johannes Jonasson; Interview notes; Larry Hammerstrom article on Christina Turnblad; Larry Hammerstrom articles on Swan Turnblad; List of primary sources and bibliography used for subject files; Minnesota Secretary of State documents; Newspaper articles on Swan Turnblad; Notes from research into Turnblads and related individuals; Photocopies of Swan Turnblad's will and probate documents; Sherry Butcher-Younghans article on Swan Turnblad; Sherry Butcher-Younghans translation "ASI: ett levande arv"; Tributes to Swan Turnblad; Turnblad and ASI timelines; Turnblad family attendance of Louisiana Purchase Expo, 1904; Turnblad family genealogical tables; Turnblad family timelines; Turnblad grave at Lakewood Cemetery; Turnblad relatives; Various articles on Swan Turnblad)

ASI history subject files ("American Swedish Institute: Selected Milestones"; Byron Nordstrom article "80 Years Young"; Byron Nordstrom's ASI history timelines, 1904-2008; C. A. Anderson manuscript "The Organizing of the ASI"; Clippings on ASI; Descriptions of Swan Turnblad and mansion in Swedish; Emil Berglund articles on the history of ASI; Ingrid Johanson's memories of ASI's early years, 1975; Joy Lintelman article "The ASI and Ethnicity"; Larry Hammerstrom's chronology of ASI history, 1920-1983; Lilly Lorénzen article "The American Swedish Institute"; Nils Jaenson manuscript on the founding of ASI)

Exhibits (1958 Photographic Swedish Ancestry exhibit; 2009 80 Years Young exhibit; Exhibit schedules; Greyhound bus exhibit; Jacob Fahlstrom monument; >Life in Sweden Today exhibit; Tour guide information; Tour guide scripts; Visitor guides and brochures)

Programs (40th anniversary event; 50th anniversary event; 70th anniversary event; 75th anniversary event; Special event files)

Attendance (notebooks detailing attendance statistics at ASI: 1965-1985; 1986-2010)

Collections (Collections assessment, 1991; Collections assessment, 1997; Collections committee report, 1994)

Library (Film library holdings)

4. Membership

Reports (Monthly membership reports)

Member lists (Undated)

5. Education

Lilly Lorénzen scholarship (About the scholarship and winners, 1980-1990; 1980; 1981; 1982; 1983; 1984; 1985; 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989; 1990; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994; 1995; 1996; 1997; 1998; 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; 2006)

Malmberg scholarship (2007 report; 2008 report; Recipient list, 2005-2008)

6. Newsletters

The Bulletin (1941; 1942; 1943; 1944; 1945; 1946; 1947; 1948; 1949-1953; 1954-1963)

ASI Happenings (1969-1974; 1975; 1976; 1977; 1978; 1979; 1980; 1981)

Posten (1982; 1983; 1984; 1985; 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989; 1990; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994;
1995; 1996; 1997; 1998; 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; 2006; 2007; 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011; 2012; 2013; 2014)

Other member communications (Inside ASI; Yearbook, 1945; News and notes, 1953-1960; News and notes, 1960-1968; 50th Anniversary "Posten," 1979)

7. Business Enterprises

Museum Shop (Catalog 1994-1995; Catalog 1996-1997; Catalog 1997-1998; Catalog 1998-1999; Catalog 1999-2000; Catalog 2000-2001; Catalog 2001-2002; Catalog 2002-2003; Catalog 2003-2004; Catalog 2004-2005; Catalog 2005-2006; Catalog 2006; Catalog 2007; Catalog 2008; Catalog 2009; Catalog 2010; Catalog, undated)

Physical Dimensions 11.25 cubic feet (12 archives boxes)
Copyrights Copyright for this collection is held by the American Swedish Institute. Staff will provide photocopies of collection materials for personal use at researcher's expense. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce materials must be secured in writing from the American Swedish Institute.