November 16, 2015

2012 GAA – H. Arnold Barton

H. Arnold Barton is an American historian and a national authority on Swedish-American history. He has devoted his research to the history of Scandinavia, especially Sweden, and of Swedes and other Scandinavians in North America.

Barton was born of Swedish descent in Los Angeles in 1929. His grandfather was in Djursdala parish, Kalmar,Småland county, Sweden and emigrated to America in 1867. His maternal grandmother was born in Bollnäs parish, Hälsingland ccounty and emigrated to America in 1889.

Barton received his B.A. degree at Pomona College and his doctorate at Princeton University. Arnold Barton taught history at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (1960 to 1963) and at the University of California, Santa Barbara (1963 to 1970). He taught at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, where he became professor in 1975 and from where he retired in 1996 as professor emeritus of history.[2]

Barton has written several historical studies, including Letters from the Promised Land, an anthology from 1979 with Swedish emigrants’ letters and The Search for Ancestors from 1980, a story about his own descent from Swedish emigrants. Barton serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Swedish-American Historic Society.[3] Between 1974 and 1990, Barton served as editor of the Swedish-American Historical Quarterly.[4][5]

In 1985, Professor H. Arnold Barton was awarded the Charlotta Medal in recognition of his contributions to theSwedish Emigrant Institute at Växjö, Småland, Sweden. Barton was named “Swedish-American of the Year” in 1988 by the Royal Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by the two Swedish District lodges of the Vasa Order of America.[6] In 1989, he was granted an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden. In 2000, he was made Knight-Commander of the Royal Swedish Order of the Polar Star by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.[7]


Selected bibliography


  • Count Hans Axel von Fersen: Aristocrat in an Age of Revolution (1975)
  • Letters from the Promised Land: Swedes in America, 1840-1914 (1975)
  • The Search for Ancestors: A Swedish-American Family Saga (1979)
  • Scandinavia in the Revolutionary Era, 1760-1815 (1986)
  • A Folk Divided: Homeland Swedes and Swedish Americans, 1840-1940 (1994)
  • Northern Arcadia: Foreign Travelers in Scandinavia, 1765-1815 (1998)
  • Sweden and Visions of Norway: Politics and Culture, 1814-1905 (2003)
  • The Old Country and the New: Essays on Swedes and America (2006)
  • Essays on Scandinavian History (2009)