On Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, the Swedish-American Historical Society co-sponsored an awards ceremony in Chicago with Swedish Council of America (SCA). The event occurred in downtown Chicago at the historic Saint James Episcopal Cathedral just after five million Chicago Cubs fans celebrated the Cubs’ World Series victory with a downtown parade.
Saint James Cathedral was an auspicious site for the event, an important historic site in Swedish America. The cathedral is home to Episcopalians throughout Chicago, of course, and also houses the beautiful silver chalice and paten given in 1851 by the world-renowned Swedish singer Jenny Lind to the Saint Ansgarius Episcopal Church, the first Swedish-Norwegian church in Chicago that began in 1849, whose founding pastor was the well-known Swedish immigrant Gustaf Unonius who emigrated from Sweden 175 years ago. The chalice and paten were on display for the awards ceremony.
Sweden’s Ambassador to the United States, Björn Lyrvall, attended the event and spoke to the crowd on the importance of maintaining good relationships between the two countries.
Kevin Proescholdt, the editor of the Swedish-American Historical Quarterly, announced two prizes related to the journal on behalf of the Society. Both prizes are designed to encourage new authors and new scholarship. The Franklin Scott Prize, given for the best article by author(s) who have not previously had articles published in the Quarterly, went to Donald Sandy, John Everett Jones, and Jennifer Liber Raines for their article in the October issue of the Quarterly entitled, “The Buffalo Orphan Asylum and the Settlement of Swedes in Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York.” This prize is named for the late Franklin Scott, historian, former president of the Society, and former editor of the Quarterly.
Kevin also announced the winner of the first-ever Emerging Scholars Prize. This prize went to Marcus Cederström for his article in the April issue entitled, “Don’t Mourn, Educate: Signe Aurell and the Swedish-American Labor Press.” The Society recently created this prize for undergraduate or graduate students to encourage younger scholarship in the field, and Marcus is the first winner of this prize. Both prizes come with a $250 award.
Society president Philip J. Anderson also presented two Carl Sandburg Medals at the awards ceremony on behalf of the Society. The medals are named after the well-known author and poet, Carl Sandburg, who was the first honorary chairman of the Society when it formed in 1948. The Carl Sandburg Medal is the highest award given by the Society, awarded for service to the Society or service to the broader Swedish-American community.
Phil presented the first medal to Donald E. Olson. Don has served as the treasurer of the Society continuously since 1998, keeping track of Society finances, preparing budgets, writing checks, overseeing audits and tax forms, and much more. His service to the Society has been immense in many tangible and intangible ways. Don has also served as the board chair of the Center for Scandinavian Studies at North Park University since 2002, and has worked to facilitate student exchanges between North Park and Sweden for many years as well.
Phil presented the second Sandburg Medal to Dag Blanck. Dag is a long-time Society board member and member of its Publications Committee, and the director of the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Dag also serves as Professor of North American Studies and director of the Swedish Institute for North American Studies at Uppsala University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books and more than 50 scholarly articles on Swedish-American immigration history and trans-national relations between Sweden and the United States.
Among the awards given by Swedish Council of America was a Great Achievement Award to Kerstin Lane, a long-time Society board member and the former director of the Swedish American Museum in Chicago. Kerstin also served as Honorary Consul General for Sweden in Chicago.
Congratulations to all of the award winners!