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Collection Birger Swenson papers
Collection Number MSS P:10
Dates of Creation 1928-1992
Extent of Description 22.75 linear feet , 64 boxes
Language English (bulk), Swedish
Creator Swenson, Birger, 1895-1897
Search Terms Swenson, Birger, 1895-1987
Augustana Book Concern (Rock Island, Ill.)
Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.)
Kiwanis Club (Rock Island, Ill.)
Augustana Historical Society (Rock Island, Ill.)
Jenny Lind Chapel (Andover, Ill.)
Swenson, Lyal Westerlund
Administrative or Biographical History Birger Swenson was born on July 31, 1895 in Averstad, Östra Fågelvik, Värmland to Sven and Johanna Svensson. Swenson immigrated to the United States in 1912 at the age of 17. After having worked for the Swedish-American newspaper, Gamla och Nya Hemlandet in Chicago, he moved to Rock Island, Illinois where he attended Augustana College. He received his B.A. from Augustana in 1924 and attended the Augustana Seminary in 1925 and 1926. Birger Swenson died in 1990 at the age of 94.
Birger Swenson joined the staff at Augustana Book Concern, Rock Island in 1926 as a field representative. He was promoted to field manager in 1927, a position held until 1942 when he was promoted to Sales Manager. Swenson was named general manager of the Augustana Book Concern in 1945 and stayed in that position until he retired in 1962.

Swenson was active within the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church and served as a Trustee on the Augustana Lutheran Foundation from 1930-1962; as Treasurer for the Luther League Council of the Augustana Synod from 1933-1937; as treasurer for the American Federation of Lutheran Brotherhoods 1939-1943; and as National President of the Publication Section of the International Council of Religious Education during 1950-1951.

At Augustana College, Swenson was the president for the Augustana Alumni Association 1938-1939; served as editor for the Augustana Almanac 1930-1947; was co-editor of the Augustana Annal 1948-1962; and served as a Trustee of the Augustana Annuity Trust.

After his retirement in 1962, Swenson devoted his time to numerous local organizations, such as the Augustana Historical Society, Rock Island; the Rock Island County Historical Society; and the Kiwanis. He was also active within the church and in the Swedish-American community. The Swensons also spent much time travelling around the world.

Birger Swenson was decorated a Knight of the Order of Vasa by the Swedish Government in 1951. Birger and Lyal Swenson were instrumental in the founding of the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College in Rock Island in 1981 through a generous gift of $500,000.
Birger Swenson married Lyal Westerlund in 1943.

For further information about Birger Swenson's life see My Story: Immigrant, Executive, Traveler by Birger Swenson. Published by the Augustana Historical Society, Rock Island, Illinois, 1979.
Scope & Content The collection includes material from Swenson's career at the Augustana Book Concern in Rock Island, Illinois, autobiographical material and an extensive slide collection from the Swensons' travels around the world. Swenson's professional papers include Annual Reports from the Augustana Book Concern in Rock Island, Illinois 1928-1962, minutes from the Augustana Book Concern board meetings 1943-1962.There is also an extensive letter collection received by Swenson at the Augustana Book Concern. It is organized in alphabetical order by last name and cover the years 1945-1962.Other material from ABC include, clippings relating to the press and its publications. The bulk of the personal papers contain material gathered after Swenson's retirement in 1962. The slide collection consists of several thousand slides from trips the Swenson's went on around the world. Included are also minutes and other material from Swenson's involvement area organizations such as the Kiwanis Club in Rock Island, the Jenny Lind Chapel Committee, and the Augustana Historical Society. Personal correspondence and extensive notes and other material from the autobiography My Story is also present in this collection.

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