East Moline historian Lilly Setterdahl and her late husband, Lennart, devoted their lives to recording the stories of Swedish immigrants like themselves. Together they amassed a collection of almost 3,000 oral histories and 20,000 photographs.
Many of their most significant archival objects will be displayed during the next three months at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago. Titled “Documenting Swedish America: A Setterdahl Family Tradition,” the exhibit will open Saturday, July 6.
Lilly Setterdahl, the author of 21 books, will attend the opening reception at 11 a.m. and lead a gallery walk through the exhibit. She also will answer questions and sign copies of her books that are on sale in the museum shop.
Many of her books draw from Lennart Setterdahl’s immemse collection of microfilmed documents, photographs and oral histories related to Swedish American immigrants.
The main goals of the Setterdahl exhibit are for the public to see Swedish Americans through the lens of a camera and to hear recorded stories in the immigrants’ own words. Visitors also may better understand the importance of preserving family histories.
Through their years in Illinois, Lilly and Lennart Setterdahl worked with the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College, the Vasa Archives in Bishop Hill, and the Emigrant Institute in Sweden.
The exhibit may be seen through September 29 during regular hours of the Swedish American Museum, located at 5211 N. Clark St., Chicago. Call 773-728-8111 for details. =