Amandus Johnson

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Dr. Amandus Johnson

Amandus Johnson (October 27, 1877 – June 30, 1974) was an American historian, author and founding curator of the American Swedish Historical Museum. He is most associated with his epic two volume history The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware 1638-1664, which was also published in Swedish as Den första svenska kolonien i Amerika (1923).


Amandus Johnson was born in Långasjö, a small village now located in the municipality of Emmaboda of Kalmar County in the historic Swedish province of Småland. He was three years old at the time his family came to Rice Lake (CDP), Minnesota. Johnson attended Gustavus Adolphus College from which he graduated in 1904 with a baccalaureate degree in English literature. During 1904–1905, Johnson continued to study at the University of Colorado where he took a master's degree. He won fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania where he took his Ph.D. in 1908.[1]


In 1908, Johnson was one of the co-founders of the Swedish Colonial Society, whose members traced their ancestry to the pre Revolutionary War Swedish colonists. Johnson served as instructor and later assistant professor of Scandinavian Languages at the University of Pennsylvania from 1910 to 1921. After serving as President of the Historical Section of the American Division of the Gothenburg Exhibition in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1921 Johnson accepted the post of Director of the African Educational Expedition to Angola, during 1922–1924. In the years after the expedition, Johnson published a Kimbundu English Portuguese dictionary[2] and a narrative about his travels.[3]

Starting in 1926, Johnson was corresponding secretary of the Swedish American Tercentenary Association which conducted an endowment campaign to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Swedish settlement in North America and to endow the American Swedish Historical Museum. In 1938, Prince Bertil of Sweden dedicated the American Swedish Historical Museum in a celebration which also included the dedication of Fort Christina Park in Wilmington, Delaware. Johnson was museum director and curator from 1928 until 1943. Johnson conducted extensive research both in the United States and in Europe into the Swedish American Colonial period. He wrote numerous books and spoke extensively regarding the subject. He continued to take an active interest in the activities of the American Swedish Historical Museum and the Swedish Colonial Society throughout his life. In 1961, Amandus Johnson was selected by the two Swedish District lodges of the Vasa Order of America to be Swedish-American of the Year.[4]


Dr. Johnson's inventory of work papers have been deposited at the Philadelphia-based Balch Institute in 1975. The Swedish Colonial Society has established the Dr. Amandus Johnson Endowment Fund which provides yearly scholarships to students of Scandinavian studies at the University of Pennsylvania.[5][6]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware Volume I: Their History and Relation to the Indians, Dutch and English, 1638-1664 (1911)
  • The Swedes in America 1638-1900: Vol. I, The Swedes on the Delaware 1638-1664. (1914)
  • Johan Classon Rising: The last governor of New Sweden (1915)
  • The Indians and Their Culture as Described in Swedish and Dutch Records (1917)
  • The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware 1638-1664, Volume 2 (1927)
  • Instruction For Johan Printz, Governor Of New Sweden, "The First Constitution or Supreme Law Of The States Of Pennsylvania And Delaware. (1930)
  • Mbundu English-Portuguese dictionary: With grammar and syntax (1931)
  • The Journal and Biography of Nicholas Collin 1746-1831 (1936)
  • Swedish contributions to American freedom, 1776-1783: Including a sketch of the background of the Revolution, together with an account of the engagements (1953)


  1. ^ History of the Museum (American Swedish Historical Museum) Archived 2008-10-27 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Mbundu (Kimbundu) English - Portuguese dictionary: with grammar and syntax Philadelphia (1930) OCLC 179966823
  3. ^ Emeritus Status (American Society of Genealogists) Archived 2009-04-09 at the Wayback Machine Cited source does not support the proposition. 24 September 2012
  4. ^ Amandus Johnson (Vasa Order of America)[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ German Department Awards (University of Pennsylvania) Archived 2012-03-02 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Judith Amandus Johnson (The Research Library of The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies. September 1982)[permanent dead link]

Other sources[edit]

  • Benson, Adolph B.; Naboth Hedin Swedes in America, 1638-1938 (Swedish American Tercentenary Association. 1938)

External links[edit]