The Swedish Genealogical Society of Minnesota (SGSM) traces its origins back to the Scandinavian-American Genealogical Society (SAGS). SAGS encompassed Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Their meetings had breakout sessions by country and their newsletter was called The Scandinavian Saga. SAGS continued and still included Scandinavians of all tribes even after the Swedish Interest Group was formed in 1983, and in 1988 the Swedish group changed their name to the Swedish Genealogy Group. Hildur Anderson, Joann Coombs, Jan Frye, Fran Hillier and Phyllis Pladsen were among the original members of SAGS, and subsequently the Swedish group with Fran Hillier being the first President from 1983-93. The first Tidningen newsletter issue was published in 1997 with Ron Swanson as the Editor for the next 25 years. In 1983 we had 68 members and now have 350 members residing in 32 states and 5 foreign countries.
Being a Branch of the Minnesota Genealogical Society (MGS), SGSM has been able to offer member benefits that otherwise would not be possible. Over the years the SGSM library collection has been housed at MGS in various locations, and SGSM has used a variety of venues across the Twin Cities for our programs. The meetings in the early days often rotated to different locations for each meeting.
How we perform genealogy research has changed significantly since 1983 when microfilm was about the only “technology” that allowed us to do research close to home. Now we have access to numerous databases and original source records online that allow us to access information from almost everywhere and do it from almost anywhere. SGSM has incorporated these evolving tools into the programs, articles and research help we offer our members.
Early on, meetings were primarily help and sharing sessions. Speakers were members sharing tidbits of knowledge and information they had gathered in their travels to Sweden or from letters received from relatives in Sweden, or sharing the purchase of a new book or map of Sweden. Members shared information on how to solve problems such as mailing money to Sweden, etc. Meetings were round table discussions of their successes, failures, and helpful hints. While our meetings have become more formal with presentations by outside speakers, one of the fundamental attributes of SGSM is members helping other members. Sometimes this is by giving presentations or contributing articles to help others develop their research skills, or by providing one-on-one research help. We share by providing database subscriptions at MGS that are available for everyone to use and by members donating their gently used books they no longer need.
So how do Swedes celebrate? At our meetings it is always with coffee and cookies. For our 40th Anniversary it is by having a smörgåsbord at the American Swedish Institute on April 22, 2023 from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM. You will find more information on the Events page.