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George Malcolm Stephenson papers

Identifier: ua-00486

Scope and Content

The papers of George M. Stephenson contain correspondence, manuscripts, writings, and notes. Class notes from his days at Harvard are included, in addition to lecture notes during his tenure as a professor. Topics of note in the correspondence include Lutheran Augustana Synod and Augustana College, where Stephenson was on the Board of Directors from 1930-1934. Individuals of note in the correspondence include Fritiof Ander, M. Margaret Anderson, Rev. Carl J. Bengrton, Theodore C. Blegen, Vergilius Ferm, Mrs. John Lind and Gunnar Westin. Personal papers are also included in the folders of correspondence. Of note is the letters between George Stephenson and his two sons during he and his wife's hospitalization after a car accident in Iowa (1933).


  • 1910-1958


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of George M. Stephenson (1883-1958)

George Malcolm Stephenson was born in Olds, Henry County, Iowa on December 30, 1883. He received his undergraduate education from Augustana [Rock Island, Illinois] and the University of Chicago. He received a doctor of philosophy in history in 1914 from Harvard University. After serving temporarily on the University of Minnesota faculty from 1914-15, Stephenson held a joint appointment as an instructor at DePaul University and Dartmouth University. He returned to the University of Minnesota as professor emeritus in history from 1918 to 1952. In 1927, he spent a year studying in Sweden. In 1938, he was honored with an honorary Ph.D. from Uppsala University [Sweden], and later (date unknown) received an honorary doctor of letters [Litt. D.] from Augustana College. He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1927-29 and was a Fulbright professor at University of Stockholm, 1954-55. He was decorated as a Knight of the Royal Order of the North Star by the King of Sweden in 1937 in recognition of his "position of eminence among Swedish-American scientists and his work pertaining to Sweden and Swedish America." He is the author of eleven books and almost 100 articles. His publications include A History of American Immigration(1926), the Religious Aspects of Swedish Immigration(1932), John Lind of Minnesota(1935), American History since 1865(1939), American History to 1865(1940), and his final volume, The Puritan Heritage, published in 1952.

Noted as a distinguished scholar in the field of American History, and a pioneer in the history of immigration, Stephenson first became interested in the history of immigration to the United States in 1912. As a graduate student in history at Harvard, he began work on his thesis on public lands under the direction of Professor Frederick Jackson Turner. His research indicated the vital relation between the vast public domain in the United States and the exodus from the countries of northern and western Europe. He obtained a number of immigrant letters written by his grandfather and his parents from the years 1849 to 1870, which revealed the human side of the immigration movement. He was one of the first to use this source critically, giving rise to the nonfiliopietistic study of immigration and immigrant elements in America. As he said, "I was born in a Swedish community in Henry County, Iowa. Not until many years after I left the farm where I was born did I become conscious that the community was the United States of America in miniature".

Among his many interests was a passion for baseball, and it was hoped that one day he would write a history of the sport. For many years he kept a diary, of which he left an unpublished condensation. The University of Minnesota Senate Minutes, dated February 5, 1959 stated the following: "He was widely known and admired for his thoroughgoing scholarship, his substantial contributions, his fearless candor, his sharp-tongued wit, and his skill as a storyteller."

George Stephenson married Lilly Sundkvist in 1918. They had two sons, George and Gordon. Stephenson died in Minneapolis on October 11, 1958, after a long illness.


3.25 Cubic Feet (1 box, 10 hollingers)


The collection contains the papers of George Malcolm Stephenson, professor emeritus of history at the University of Minnesota.


Collection is arranged in alphabetical order by subject.

Source of acquisition

George Malcolm Stephenson's papers were donated to University Archives by his son, George M. Stephenson, Jr. on November 5, 1981.

Related Materials in University Archives

Guy Stanton Ford papers

Carmen N. Richards papers

Inventory of the George Malcolm Stephenson papers, 1910-1958
Ellen Miller; updated by Karen Spilman
December 1993; updated April 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area