A brief history
Swedish Roots in Oregon (SRIO) was formed in 1999 when Ross Fogelquist of Oregon’s New Sweden Cultural Heritage Society suggested that a project be initiated to research, document, and preserve the rich history of Oregon’s Swedish immigrants. Due to the extensive effort that would be required for such a project it was decided that a separate organization be formed to carry out the project. It was also recommended that this new group was to be a small, tightly focused research organization unencumbered by the responsibilities of maintaining a general membership. After some preliminary discussions, it was decided that the following questions were to be asked:
Who were the Swedish immigrants? Where did they come from? Why did they leave Sweden? What brought them to Oregon? How did their lives turn out? What did they achieve?
A series of preliminary meetings were held, and in 1999 they led to the creation of “Swedish Roots in Oregon — An Immigration Research Project.” The following objectives were to be prioritized:
- Create a computer program designed for genealogical research of first and second generation Swedish immigrants who settled in Oregon.
- Collect genealogical information about Oregon’s Swedish immigrants from individuals and institutions such as lodges, universities, churches, and libraries.
- Build a database of the gathered material, publish it on a CD and make it available to the public.
Research the lives, settlements, and achievements of the Swedes of Oregon and publish the findings.
Build an archive of oral histories of Swedish immigrants to Oregon.
In December 1999, the Internal Revenue Service granted Swedish Roots in Oregon non-profit status, and the organization began raising funds for its activities. The Swedish Council of America in Minneapolis contributed significant seed money to enable SRIO to launch its activities. Various individuals, Swedish lodges and organizations in the Portland area also helped fund the initial research effort.
Much has been accomplished since 1999: 12 pamphlets and five books which chronicle the lives of Swedish immigrants in Oregon; an online website; over 22,000 names of Oregonians with Swedish roots entered into the Swedish American Heritage Online database; and a well-received exhibit displaying the contributions of Swedish immigrants to the development of the state of Oregon.