The American Club of Sweden is the result of a merger of the American Club of Stockholm and the Swedish-American Society of Stockholm in 1980.
The Swedish-American Society of Stockholm
Inspired by increasing relations between Sweden and the United States of America, a group of Swedes assembled at the Hotel Continental on April 3, 1905, forming a society “for the purpose of furthering social bonds and sympathetic relations between Swedes and Swedish Americans and a mutual exchange of information about conditions in the old and the new country.”
The tide had turned and Sweden saw many former emigrants returning from the United States of America. The founders believed that people with experience from the new, youthful and promising land would constitute a healthy “vitamin” in the Swedish body at the time. One activity outlined for the new society was to actually spur the trend among former emigrants to return to Sweden and help them adjust.
The original purpose of the society of maintaining and furthering friendly relations between Sweden and the United States was fulfilled by efforts to increase mutual knowledge between the two nations through lectures by prominent Americans and Swedes, and by initiating personal connections through social gatherings.
The society often acted as a host during visits of large American groups and delegations, and on official and non-official visits of notable Americans.
As the world grew closer as a result of improved means of communication, the society learned to meet new needs. Hence, the society became the vehicle for accurate, up-to-date news and information on topical issues in the United States. In recent years, the film, lecture and discussion meetings at the United States Embassy Auditorium were numerous, thanks to the assistance of the officers of the United States Information Service. No particular field was given any priority within the activities of the society, and the emphasis was on cultural relations.
As its major event of the year, the society traditionally hosted the 4th of July celebration of the American community in Stockholm. The setting, circumstances, atmosphere and attendance of these gatherings varied considerably over the years, but the spirit in which they were held was always high.
The American Club of Stockholm
Records describing the history of a formal “American Club of Stockholm” are sparse. However, as far back as the middle part of the 19th century, there were informal meetings of the small American community in Stockholm. These meetings took place at the old Hotel Rydberg in Stockholm through the initiative of the American Consul, Dr. Charles A. Leas.
After the departure of Mr. Leas in 1862, little is known of any formal gatherings in Stockholm until September 21, 1919, when a group of Americans and Swedes were brought together by Dr. Wm. Borgström for the purpose of forming a club composed of men who had been in the United States of America. The club was founded upon the principle of furthering the spirit of American hospitality and helpfulness in Sweden. Since the majority of those who attended the first meeting at the Hotel Gillet were from New York, the club adopted the name, “The New York Club”. The New York Club became a formal entity on September 21, 1919.
The New York Club had regular meetings and club records indicate that it was an active organization. Five years passed, however, and the New York Club found itself in the doldrums, suffering poor attendance. It is assumed that a desire to regenerate interest in the organization motivated the membership to reconsider the name of the club. On February 3, 1927, the club became known as “The American Club of Stockholm”.
The next important date in Club history was the inauguration of Club headquarters in the Grand Hotel Royal in Stockholm on January 10, 1929. These quarters were kept until 1966 when, after a brief presence at Scandic Park on Humlegården, the Club ceased to maintain permanent meeting facilities. During nearly seven decades of existence, the Club lived up to its original purposes: that of hospitality and helpfulness. Through a continuous and regular program of meetings and social events, it provided an important venue for Swedes and Americans to meet on an informal basis. In recent years, the Club has played host to a long list of leaders from the worlds of government, industry and finance.
The American Club of Sweden
Since the 1980 merger of the two organizations named above and subsequently a few others, The American Club of Sweden has continued to play an important role as an informal point of contact between the various American-Swedish individuals and organizations in Sweden and the United States. The Club celebrated the centennial in 2005 and provides frequent opportunities for interaction through its varied social program, anchored by monthly mixers and highlighted by cultural, family, business and public interest events.
The Club’s present membership includes many of Sweden’s commercial leaders and executives of those American companies active in Sweden as well as a range of nationalities who are integrally involved in the American-Swedish community.
Through the combined history The American Club has hosted numerous outstanding speakers and guests including: President Theodore Roosevelt (US President), Sinclair Lewis (Author), General George S. Patton, Jr. (US Army), Mary Pickford (Actress), Robert Taylor (Actor), Dr. Ralph Bunche (Nobel Peace Prize), Eleanor Roosevelt (US First Lady), Walter P. Reuther (union leader), Chief Justice Earl Warren (US Supreme Court), Duke Kahanamoku (Olympic swimming gold medalist), Senator Hubert Humphrey (US Vice President), General Dwight D. Eisenhower (US President), Olof Palme (Swedish Prime Minister), Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson (US President), Gloria Ray Karlmark (Little Rock Nine), Christer Fugelsang (Swedish astronaut), Gen. Charles Duke (US astronaut and moonwalker).
The American Club functions in the spirit of its founding members, that of providing good fellowship and being of assistance to both residents of and newcomers to the country.