Swedish-American Research Material


Preserved by Lennart Setterdahl 



Setterdahl tapes name order


Guide to Setterdahl photographs of interviewees
















Born in Frandefors, Sweden, Lennart Setterdahl moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio in 1959 to pursue his dream of locating countrymen. Having found many of them in northern Ohio, and the western parts of Pennsylvania and New York states, he purchased a reel-reel tape recorder and began recording interviews. 

Having been  engaged by the Emigrant Institute in Vaxjo, Sweden to microfilm  Swedish-American church archives, he moved with his family to East Moline, Illinois, in 1971. It was largely through his efforts that the records of 1,600 churches and about half as many organizations were microfilmed between 1970 and 1985. He extended his research to include businesses founded by Swedes, as well as personal papers. A large number of Swedish-American newspapers were microfilmed with the assistance of family members. In addition, Lennart did all the field work for Guide To Swedish-American Archival and Manuscript Sources In The United States, published in 1983. While traveling, Lennart recorded 2,800 interviews and photographed people, buildings, and milieus, resulting in a private collection of about 20,000 negatives, photos, and slides, whereof 5,000 have since been digitalized. In 1990 he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Gothenburg for his many years of work documenting the lives of Swedish immigrants in North America. He traveled across the continent several times by car until his untimely death in May of 1995. The Swedish Emigrant Institute holds the most complete collection of his work. Partial collections are available at Swedish-American archives. His family owns the photo collection and 800 interviews recorded between 1962 and 1984. 












Lennart Setterdahl (1928 -1995) documented the Swedish immigrants, their churches, organizations and settlements from 1962 to 1995. 

Lennart bought his first microfilm camera in 1970.


Then a larger camera that he could use to film newspapers, two pages at the time.

Supervising proofreading of 35 mm. microfilm.

Taking a closer look at the film.


Over the years, he bought two more microfilm cameras and made a glass cover to flatten the documents.

Carrying church books.


Preparing for filming on location.

Unloading  the heavy film table.


And more equipment.


Dr. Ulf Beijbom of the Emigrant Institute and Lennart in his doctor's hat in 1990.


Recording an interview.

Copying cassettes in 1994.

Lennart carried out his last  project in Sydney, Australia, in January and February 1995.