The Riksföreningen Sverigekontakt (The Royal Society for Swedish Culture Abroad) was founded in 1908 by a professor at the University of Gothenburg named Vilhelm Lundström. It was initially founded as a way to help all those emigrants who left, mainly for the U.S., to keep their Swedish language and culture alive, as it was thought they would eventually return to their motherland.
Fast forward to 2012 and the situation is quite different. Swedish emigrants today aren’t poor and don’t need the same kind of aid as in the old days. We are more transient, we travel more easily and it’s easier to keep in touch with our country of origin.
Says Lars Bergman, general secretary of the society: “Our purpose today is primarily to support Swedish education abroad. For instance there are 10– to 20,000 Germans studying Swedish, and many in the Baltic States and the former Soviet Union are also learning Swedish. This we support by sending book packages; last year we sent 800 book packages to schools and teachers abroad. We also hold around 10 conferences a year about the Swedish language and culture abroad.”

Memories of Sweden
But back to the project about Swedish memories.
“It is written in our statutes that we are to focus on this,” Bergman says. “I began reading about it in 2010, and I thought why not do something about it? In the early 1920s our society had a weekly paper, which focused to a degree on Swedish memories abroad. At that time it was very nationalistic, with emphasis on graveyards and statues and so on. This time around, we want to open it up a bit and include all sorts of memories, anything from bronze busts to commemorative plaques and proverbial phrases.”
These personal Swedish memories can be put up on the society’s website by anyone who wants to—so far 134 memories have been posted. They show a wide variety of memories, such as a photo of Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd’s Non-Violence sculpture outside the UN in New York, a picture of a Swedish “prinsesstårta” from Switzerland (did you know the origins of this popular marzipan-covered cake comes from “Prinsessornas kokbok” from the 1930s?), and a photo from the toy museum in Kecskemét, Hungary, showing Nils Holgersson (from Selma Lagerlöf’s book “The Wonderful Adventure of Nils”) hovering in the air on his goose Akka.
Bergman says they are expecting around 100 memories a year, spread out at a rate of about 10 a month. The problem is that although there’s a brief English description about the society, there are no English directions for uploading memories.
“We discussed this,” says Bergman. “But though English might be the main language in the rest of the world, here in Europe it’s German. We also don’t have the resources to put up an English version, so we decided to keep it in Swedish only, even though that way we risk losing the American continent.”
If you’d still like to try to upload your own Swedish memories from abroad, visit the society’s website at: