Overviews of the Collections
The Swedish Collections at the Library of Congress
Chief, European Division
The General Collections The Library's general
collections of monographs, bound periodicals, and annuals include
approximately 110,000 titles from or about Sweden. The total number
of volumes is estimated at between 160,000 and 170,000, as many
of the individual titles are multi-volume. These materials cover
all disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, and natural
sciences, with particular strengths in history, language, and literature.
More than 75 percent of these materials are in Swedish. Fifteen
percent are in English, 2 percent in German, 1 percent in other
Nordic languages, and nearly 1 percent in French. In addition,
works in Dutch, Latin, Italian, Russian, and Polish account for
at least 100 titles each, with smaller numbers in more than twenty
other languages. During the late 1990s, the Library averaged annual
receipts of approximately 1,250 monographic titles: 1,000 titles
from Sweden, 50 Sweden-related titles published in the United States,
and 200 Sweden-related titles published outside Sweden or the United
The European Reading Room The European
Reading Room provides direct access to a large number of
reference works on Sweden, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias,
atlases, histories, biographical directories, bibliographies,
and other reference sources. The reading room makes available
for onsite use numerous bibliographic databases and full-text
resources, many of which contain citations or texts pertaining
Serials The Library's collections include runs
of nearly 3,000 retrospective or current newspapers, magazines,
journals, bulletins, annuals, and other serials from or about Sweden.
Most of these are in the general collections. Current Swedish periodicals
are available in the Newspaper
and Current Periodical Reading Room. In addition, that reading
room provides holdings of current and retrospective Swedish newspapers.
Among the many newspapers with long runs are:
- Arbetarbladet (Gavle), December 18, 1947-April 1979,
- Goteborgs-Posten (Göteborg), 1967-present, on microfilm
- Sydsvenska Dagbladet (Malmö), 1942-94, on microfilm
- Aftonbladet (Stockholm), December 6, 1830-1994, on microfilm
- Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm), 1900-present, on microfilm
(holdings for 1900-78 are incomplete). Current paper copies are
also received for this title.
- Svenska Dagbladet (Stockholm), 1913-present, on microfilm
Rare Books The Library's Rare
Book and Special Collections Reading Room has custody of
approximately 1,000 volumes from or about Sweden. Most were published
before 1800. (As a general rule, works published before 1801
are found in the Rare Book Reading Room; later publications usually
are in the general collections.)
The Library's collections include several Latin incunabula printed
in Rome, Venice, and German publishing centers that are ascribed
to the fourteenth-century nun, Saint Bridget (Birgitta) of Sweden,
whose accounts of her visions were widely read during the Middle
Ages. The Library's earliest monograph about Sweden is a history
in Latin by Swedish Archbishop Joannes Magnus, entitled Historia ... de omnibvs Gothorvm Sveonvmqve regibvs ... [The history of
the Gothic and Swedish kings] that was printed in Rome in 1554.
One of the Library's earliest books printed in Sweden is a Latin
history of the country by Swedish scholar Johannes Messenius, printed
in Holm in 1612, entitled Specula, ex qua inclytam Svecorvm
et Gothorvm conditionem manifesto [Watchtower from which the circumstances
of the acclaimed Swedes and Goths is manifest]. Works in Latin
from or about Sweden number more than 700 titles, printed primarily
in the Swedish cities of Uppsala, Stockholm, and Holm during the
The Swedes founded a colony called New Sweden in 1638 at the
site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. Even though the Dutch
took over the fortified area in 1655, Swedes remained in the area.
One of the treasures in the Library's collections relating to the
early Swedish presence in North America is a book aimed at proselytizing
the area's Algonquian Indians, entitled Lutheri Catechismus öfwersatt
på American-Virginiske språket [Martin Luther's little
catechism translated into the American-Virginian language] (Stockholm,
1696). The text is bilingual, with the Swedish text in Gothic lettering,
and the Algonquian text in a roman font with stress marks. The
catechism is followed by an Algonquian-Swedish glossary and a similar
glossary for the language of the Minqua (Susquehanna) Indians.
The book is based on manuscripts written and heavily used by Swedish
clergyman Johannes Campanius when he performed religious duties
in New Sweden from 1642 to 1648. Campanius completed his texts
several years later, after he had returned to Sweden, and the book
was published posthumously.
Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library to the Library of
Congress in 1814. Jefferson's collection probably did not contain
works published in Sweden, but it certainly included English and
French translations and original Latin texts of numerous works
by Swedish scientists and scholars: thirteen books by botanist
Carl von Linné; two works by scientist and religious teacher
Emanuel Swedenborg [Du commerce de l'ame et du corps (London,
1785) and A Treatise on the Nature of Influx... (London,
1788)]; chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele's two-volume Mémoires
de chymie... (Dijon, 1785); and a Latin work by historian/geographer
Olaus Magnus, Gentium septentrionaliv historiae breviarum [Abridged
history of the northern peoples] (Amsterdam, 1669). Some of
these volumes perished in a fire in 1851, but replacement copies
have been acquired for many of them. The Library's holdings of
works by all these authors have grown considerably since Jefferson's
Among the broadsides in the Rare Book and Special Collections
Division relating to Sweden are manifestoes from Queen Christina
(two from 1636 and one from 1649) and a Swedish newspaper announcing
the World War I armistice. The Rare Book Reading Room also has
several books by and about the famous Swedish-American, Charles
Local History and Genealogy The U.S. Census
of 2000 reports nearly 4 million Americans of Swedish ancestry.
The Library has more than 600 monographs that focus on the subjects
of Swedes in the United States and Swedish-Americans. Among these
materials are more than 100 monographs devoted to New Sweden, the
seventeenth-century colony in present-day Delaware mentioned above.
Other noteworthy works include the several biographical directories
of Swedish-Americans compiled by Ernst Skarstedt (1857-1929), such
as his monograph in Swedish, Våra pennfäktare (San
Francisco, 1897), describing Swedish-American authors and journalists.
Many materials relating to Swedish-Americans are found in the
Library's Local History
and Genealogy Reading Room (LH&G), the website of which
features separate guides on Danish and Norwegian immigration to
the United States, both of which include several general Scandinavian
sources that cover Sweden as well. See also a similar, annotated guide on
Swedish immigration to the United States, entitled
Swedish American Genealogy and Local History: Selected Titles at the Library of Congress.
Researchers in the LH&G Reading Room also should ask
for the vertical file folder labeled "Sweden--Genealogy," which
contains ephemera not found elsewhere in the Library of Congress.
The reference collection and catalogs in the LH&G Reading
Room are intended primarily to facilitate research in U.S. rather
than foreign local history and genealogy. Research in foreign genealogy
or local history should begin with the Library's catalog
and with resources in the European Reading Room and the Main Reading
The Library has more than 300 works pertaining to genealogy,
heraldry, and nobility in Sweden, and approximately 1,000 titles
pertain to Swedish local history.
The Library also has hundreds of books on minorities and ethnic
groups in Sweden, especially for the two largest ethnic minorities,
the Sami and the Finns.
Address/Telephone Directories The Library has residential and organizational
telephone directories from Sweden, especially for the period
from 1937 through the mid-1990s. These resources are not listed
in the Library's catalog, but are individually described
in Address/Telephone Directories from Sweden at the Library of Congress.
Manuscripts The Manuscript
Division collects Americana, including materials pertaining
to U.S. relations of any nature with other countries. The division
thus has custody of the papers of many American diplomats and
others from the United States who worked in or had correspondence
with individuals from Sweden, such as George Washington Lay's
papers from when he was chargé d'affaires to Sweden, 1842-45.
Another noteworthy collection comprises selected records of the
Swedish Utrikesdepartementet, 1783-1878, including communications
between Swedish diplomats in the U.S. and the Swedish Ministry
of Foreign Affairs. The papers of several prominent Swedish-Americans,
for example the nineteenth-century inventor John Ericsson, also
are found in the Manuscript Division.
Maps The Geography
and Map Reading Room provides access to millions of maps,
atlases, and other cartographic materials, including thousands
of maps pertaining to Sweden. These comprise general, specialized,
city, and other maps of the past six centuries. To view maps
that have been digitized by the Library of Congress, see Map
Music and Recorded Sound The Music
Division has excellent resources on Swedish music, including
over 400 general monographs on the subject and hundreds more
monographs relating to particular Swedish composers and musicians.
The division also has a large collection of printed music, such
as scores and sheet music, as well as a large collection of sound
recordings of Swedish composers.
Nineteenth-century Swedish composer Franz Berwald is represented,
for example, by approximately 50 books and 50 sound recordings.
The Library also has printed scores of all of Berwald's compositions,
as well as the recording of his Piano Quintet in A major, op. 6,
which was performed and recorded in the Library of Congress' Coolidge
Auditorium on May 20, 1983. The Coolidge Auditorium has been the
venue for other performances and recordings of Swedish works, such
as Wilhelm Stenhammar's 1910 composition, String Quartet no.
5, op. 29, on November 5, 1982.
Not all Music Division materials are listed in the online catalog,
and interested researchers should check the various card catalogs
in the division for access to the full collections.
The Library also has recorded notable authors and poets reading
from their works in an ongoing series called the Archive of
World Literature on Tape. Five Swedish poets and writers have
recorded for the Archive: Ingmar Björkstén, Lars Gustafsson,
Sven Lindqvist, Göran Tunström, and Jan Myrdal. The World
Literature on Tape recordings are listed in the Library of
Congress Online Catalog.
In addition to the Library's Online Catalog, the Recorded
Sound Reference Center maintains a database of many more
sound recordings, both musical and non-musical, called the Sound
Online Inventory and Catalog (SONIC). Items accessible through
SONIC include World War II broadcasts concerning Sweden, addresses
by King Gustav V in 1938, speeches from that same year by Franklin
Roosevelt and Swedish princes Bertil and Gustav Adolf to celebrate
the Tercentenary of the founding of New Sweden, and National
Press Club addresses in Washington, D.C., by Swedish officials
During World War II, the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI)
produced propaganda broadcasts in Swedish. After the war, thousands
of OWI recordings were transferred to the Library. The Recorded
Sound Reference Center maintains extensive subject files of these
broadcasts. Swedish-language broadcasts include President Roosevelt's
presidential addresses, news, and man-in-the-street interviews
with farmers, workers, and sailors.
Other Special Collections Other special collections
pertaining to Sweden include prints and photographs, motion pictures,
microfilm, and digitized materials. Because not all items in special
collections are listed separately in the Library's catalog,
researchers should contact the appropriate reading
rooms for advice from specialists and to obtain access to additional
finding aids. Many Library of Congress collections have been digitized
and are available online. For photographs and other images, see
the Prints & Photographs
Online Catalog. To search simultaneously for all digitized
materials that relate to Sweden, whether maps, music, photographs,
early motion pictures, etc., use the American
Memory search engine.
Law The Law
Library Reading Room holds approximately 6,000 titles pertaining
to law in Sweden. Among its resources is a virtually complete
set of the Swedish official gazette, Svensk Författningssamling (1825-),
which provides texts of new laws. Also available are many editions
of Sveriges Rikes Lag [Code of laws of the realm of Sweden] from
its beginnings in 1734 to the present, providing a codified
collection of all laws in Sweden, dating back to the sixteenth
century and the earlier oral tradition.
A final example from the Library's wide-ranging collections are items relating to Queen Christina, ruler of Sweden from 1632 to 1654, that
serve to illustrate the variety and richness of the Library's collections.
The Library has approximately 150 works in nine languages relating
to her life, including monographs, plays, children's books, historical
novels, and special material items. Among these works are:
- A contemporary pamphlet concerning the future King Charles
II of England, entitled A Declaration of the Most High and
Mighty Princesse, the Queen of Sweden, Concerning Prince Charles
and the Swedish Crown (London, 1649);
- Microfilm of selected Papers of Kristina, Queen of Sweden,
reproduced from the originals held in the Vatican Library, concerning
her perceptions of the New World;
- A black-and-white feature-length film from 1934 produced by
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in Hollywood, entitled Queen Christina,
starring Greta Garbo;
- Proceedings in English from a conference held in Stockholm
in 1995, entitled Politics and Culture in the Age of Christina;
- Proceedings in Italian from a conference held in Rome in 1996
on Queen Christina's patronage of music;
- Jean-Pierre Catteau-Calleville's two-volume French treatise
entitled Histoire de Christine, reine de Suède... (Paris,
- Henry Woodhead's two-volume Memoirs of Christina, Queen
of Sweden (London, 1863);
- and a microfilm reproduction of a contemporary British diplomat's
account of the Swedish embassy in London, entitled A Journal of the Swedish Embassy in the Years 1653 and 1654.
(This is also available online.)
Additional Swedish resources at the Library of Congress