No ethnic group is so identified with a single state as the Swedes are with Minnesota. From before statehood, Swedish immigrants flooded into the small frontier towns of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Encouraged by agents who promised inexpensive and fertile farmland, they came by the thousands. By the turn of the twentieth century, over 126,000 Swedes lived in Minnesota—and their impact on everything in the state continues to today. In this concise history of Swedes in Minnesota, the newest addition to The People of Minnesota series, Anne Gillespie Lewis tells the rich history of this ethnic group in the state they would make their own.
Swedes in Minnesota recounts the story of the great Swedish migration through numbers—in the census reports and settlement patterns. It also tells the story through the cultural institutions Swedes founded—the churches, schools, and lodges, the Swedish-language newspapers and businesses, the neighborhoods and the associations. But mostly this book tells the story through the people: the anecdotes, letters, and interviews from the immigrants themselves and from their grandchildren. For the many Minnesotans of Swedish ancestry, Lewis provides a remarkably concise portrait of an ethnic group striving to become American while struggling to maintain its ties to tradition.