Second Saturday Series: "Major Valentine's Swedes" with Paul Searls of Lyndon State College

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Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. at the Vermont History Center, 60 Washington Street, Barre

Using the Vermont Heritage Galleries as a backdrop, the Vermont Historical Society is hosting the Second Saturday Series monthly. See below for November's topic!

In 1890, Vermont's Commissioner of Agricultural and Manufacturing Interests, Alonzo B. Valentine, launched a program to repopulate Vermont's 'abandoned' farms with farmers recruited from Scandinavia. The program brought a handful of Swedes to three towns in the state, was immediately discontinued, and generally has been dismissed, both by contemporaries and by historians, as a preposterous fiasco. But, in fact, the program had a remarkable legacy, both in terms of its impact on the promotion of summer tourism, and as measured by the subsequent lives of the Swedes and their descendants, many of whom remain in Vermont to this day.

In particular, this talk will focus on four families settled in Landgrove: the Westines, Nyrens, Neilsons and Andersons. In this talk, Paul Searls will explore the strange and ironic story of Vermont's Swedish colonists, what the program has to teach us about that transitional era in Vermont's history, whether the program brilliantly accomplished what Valentine hoped for it all along, and what we can learn about twentieth-century Vermont as the Swedes became Vermonters.

All Second Saturday talks are free with admission to the Vermont History Center.

For more information, please contact Amanda Gustin, Public Programs Coordinator, at or (802) 828-2180.