John E. Norton, selected this year to be the 51st Swedish-American in a row, visited the Foreign Ministry for talks and lunch with the Cabinet Secretary Frank Belfrage in mid August.

The son of a Swedish artist with ancestral roots in Hälsingland, Norton's ancestors arrived in New York in 1849, before the massive emigrations from Sweden in the latter quarter of the 1800's. According to family history, the original immigrants fled to seek religious freedom. Members of his ancestral family served in the Civil War. Norton today specializes in studying the Swedish immigration to North America.


"In all respects, immigration was important, and a million Swedes left the country for North America," said State Secretary Frank Belfrage in his speech and praised John Norton's efforts to, among other things, increase the historical knowledge of the Swedish immigration.

Also attending the lunch were among others the Swedish ambassador in Washington, Jonas Hafström, and the chairman of this year's Swedish-American Committee, Catherine Bringselius.

To qualify for the award of Swedish-American of the Year, the person must have been involved in Swedish-American cultural exchanges or, alternatively, a Swedish person who has an outstanding career within American society. The prize, awarded by the Vasa Order of America, is backed by the US State Department, the Swedish Embassy in Washington, the Emigrant Institute in Växjö and others, and it has been bestowed since 1960.