Swedish Royal Visits to Augustana College
Exhibit on view March 1–June 1, 2019 [extended through September]
Augustana College and the Quad Cities have happily received royal Swedish visitors throughout the years in honor of its historic and contemporary ties with Sweden. The first was Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf’s brief visit to the campus in 1927 and the most recent by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia in 1996. When will the next royal visit take place? For more details of these visits, see “Swedish Royal Visits to Augustana College and Western Illinois” by Christina Johansson in Reflecting on the Past: 150 years of Augustana Stories.
June 21, 1948
Prince Bertil visited the greater Quad Cities area in conjunction with the Swedish Pioneer Centennial in 1948, which marked the 100th anniversary of Swedish immigration. The Prince spent one month touring significant Swedish-American landmarks in the Midwest.
He toured nearby Bishop Hill, Galva, and Andover, where he placed a historical marker at the Jenny Lind Chapel, the birthplace of the Augustana Synod and thus Augustana College. Then he traveled to Augustana College for lunch and a brief tour before speaking at the Wharton Field House in Moline.
King Carl XVI Gustaf
April 20, 1976
During a month-long tour of the United States, King Carl XVI Gustaf was greeted at Augustana by a sizable 5,000-person crowd at the Carver Center. College President Thomas Tredway welcomed the King and President Emeritus Dr. Conrad Bergendoff gave a brief history on the Swedish heritage of the area. The choir and band performed for the crowd.
Following this ceremony, the King visited Denkmann Memorial Library (where the Swenson Center is now located) to view materials related to the college’s Swedish history. He then visited the Student Union where he presented the Augustana student body with a tracksuit. Following his campus visit, the King visited a family farm in Mercer County and was treated to a ride on a John Deere tractor.
April 20, 1988
Queen Silvia toured Swedish America as part of the New Sweden ’88 year-long celebration of the 350th anniversary of the founding of the New Sweden colony on the Delaware River. She was met by a crowd at Centennial Hall and greeted by college President Dr. Thomas Tredway. Dr. Nils Hasselmo was also a featured speaker. She spoke of the close ties between Augustana College and the Swedish Royal family, which dates back to the 1860s when King Karl XV donated 5,000 book to start the college’s library. President Emeritus Dr. Conrad Bergendoff then presented the queen with books related to the college’s history and its Swedish roots.
A substantial grant from the Wallenberg foundation was announced, which would be used to renovate Denkmann Hall to provide expanded facilities for the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center. The queen then visited the Swenson Center to see the largest collection of materials related to Swedish immigration to the United States.
King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia
September 13, 1996
In 1996, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia visited together, again meeting the now 100-year-old President Emeritus Dr. Conrad Bergendoff. Scandinavian Studies Professor Dr. Larry Scott spoke of the historic academic ties between the nations at a public reception outside of the new library building. The Student Government Association presented Augustana sweatshirts for the entire royal family.
Following this reception, their majesties visited the Swenson Center to meet the staff and co-founder Lyal Swenson. At the end of their visit, their majesties toured the Mississippi River on a private dinner cruise and received a lecture by Professor of Geography Dr. Norm Moline on the historic and economic development of the Mississippi River.
Excerpt from the sound recording of the King gifting the track suit to the student body, 1976
“I’ve been here a very short time, but I think you look anyhow in good shape. We are probably not [in] as good shape as you are. We haven’t had time to do very much exercising during this trip. So that’s why I think it’s no use for me to [carry] along my suit for this exercise because I have no time to use it. So I thought on leaving it here. And some of your members can maybe use it…So I just want to present you this little gift as a memory of my visit.” –King Carl XVI Gustaf
Hear sound recordings from this visit on the Swenson Center YouTube channel.
“Swedish Royal Visits to Augustana College and Western Illinois” by Christina Johansson in Reflecting on the Past: 150 years of Augustana Stories, Thomas Tredway Library, 2011
MSS P:283 Magnusson photographs
MSS P:308 Allan Kastrup collection
I/O:12 American-Scandinavian Foundation (Midwest Office) records
I/O:2 Nytta och Nöje records
Vertical File: Royal Visits to Augustana College, 1988
I/O:3 Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center archives