• Heritage


    Assimilation of immigrant groups in this country naturally involves the melding of the immigrant and American cultures. As time passes, the immigrant culture tends to weaken among the original immigrants' descendants. The strong Scandinavian heritage of this area is in danger of being lost with the passing of our elders and their skills.

    The Scandinavian Studies Program was established in 1986 to respond to this challenge.


    Its purpose is to broaden and strengthen our community's awareness and understanding of its Scandinavian heritage and culture by:

    • Sponsoring programs and activities that enhance understanding and appreciation of Scandinavian culture and heritage, with particular emphasis on activities and programs for our community's youth.
    • Supporting visits and exchanges between Scandinavians and Americans.
    • Fostering development of Sister City Relationships in Scandinavian countries.
    • Acting as an umbrella for all Scandinavian clubs and groups for coordination
      of events, sevices, and support.
  • Sponsoring


    Sponsoring programs and activities that enhance understanding and appreciation of Scandinavian culture and heritage, with particular emphasis on activities and programs for our community's youth.

    The New Sweden '88 Festival celebrated the 350th anniversary of the first Swedes in America with concerts, dance, a smorgasbord, theatre, and displays.

    • The year-long Swedish Immigration Jubilee 1846-1996 included a cultural event each month.
    • Augustana Heritage Sesquicentennial Gathering attracted over 500 people to Chautauqua Institution in September 1998.
    • Performances by Swedish choirs, bands, and dancers have provided fine entertainment over the years.
    • An annual awards banquet recognizes area residents who have made significant contributions to perpetuate the mission of the Scandinavian Studies Program.
  • Supporting


    studentSupporting visits and exchanges between Scandinavians and Americans.

    • Camp Scandinavia Cultural Program - since 1996, Swedish camp counselors have worked at YMCA day and resident camps in Chautauqua County and 30 local campers and counselors have traveled to Sweden for stays at Swedish YMCA camps and with Swedish families.
    • Scandinavian Studies Student Exchange Scholarship Program - since the 1980s several JCC students have studied at colleges and universities in Sweden with sponsorship by the Scandinavian Studies Program, and a dozen Swedish students have attended JCC.
    • Scandinavian Athletic Exchange Program - since 1994, 20 Swedish students have attended JCC to study and to play volleyball, soccer, and basketball. They also visit retirement homes and participate in community events such as St. Lucia and Swedish Cultural Days. The Scandinavian Studies Program helps with housing.
  • Fostering


    Fostering development of Sister City Relationships in Scandinavian coutries.

    • The City of Jamestown has a Sister City relationship with Jakobstad, Finland.
    1200px Jakobstad City HallJakobstad CityJakobstad Church
  • Present & Future Plans


    Acting as an umbrella for all Scandinavian clubs and groups for coordination
    of events, sevices, and support.

    • A quarterly "Calendar of Scandinavian Happenings in the Greater Jamestown Area" keeps interested people informed of upcoming events sponsored by all Scandinavian organizations in the area.

    Future Plans

    With community support and adequate resources, The Scandinavian Studies Program
    could do much more to strengthen understanding and awareness of our heritage.
    Plans for the future include:

    • Maintaining opportunities such as the YMCA camp exchange program.
    • Coordinating with other Scandinavian organizations to sponsor community-wide events and contests, ie: Midsommarfest, Lucia, soccer games, an annual event celebrating the arrival of the first Scandinavians, etc.
    • Helping diplomatic, business, and political visitors make broader, mutually beneficial connections in the community.
    • Continuing and expanding the Sister City concept to Sister City relationships with communities in each of the Scandinavian countries.
    • Expanding the exchange program to include people in many roles, including apprentices and college teachers.
    • Developing a stronger educational program (traditions, songs, and language) for children and youth in the community.
    • Developing genealogy program resources and genealogy courses through the Scandinavian Culture Day activities.
    • Expanding the content of the newsletter / calendar to include articles on American / Scandinavian history, events, leaders, and other topics of interest.
    • Expanding the range and frequency of Scandinavian cultural events.
    • Long-range plans also include developing a Scandinavian Museum in Jamestown.
  • Student Programs

    Student Exchange Scholarship Program

    This program helps Jamestown Community College students spend a semester or year studying at a Scandinavian college and helps students from Scandinavian countries come to JCC for a semester or year of study. About 30 American students have traveled to Sweden and 14 Swedish students have come to Jamestown.

    During recent years, we've given Swedish students the opportunity to participate in athletics at JCC and twelve very talented Swedish athletes have taken advantage of this opportunity. Participation in team sports helps create close friendships between the Swedish and American students, and the Swedish students have helped the JCC volleyball team reach high standards. Three of the Swedish students graduated from JCC; eight received NJCAA all-region team recognition; eight received WNYAC all-conference recognition; three received NJCAA all-American recognition; six moved on to four-year universities/colleges; and two received NCAA Division I athletic scholarships.

    The Scandinavian Studies Program subsidizes expenses for both American and Swedish students.

    Camp Scandinavia Cultural Program

    To perpetuate the Scandinavian heritage of our community and our connections to contemporary Scandinavia, the Camp Scandinavia Cultural Program provides a fun, creative, and educational program that brings young people of the Chautauqua region into contact with Swedish young people and encourages travel to Sweden as well.

    Established in 1996 in conjunction with the YMCA of Jamestown and the Johnson Foundation of Jamestown, the camp provides two weeks of day camp with the Swedish and American exchange staff. They have a closer experience of Scandinavian culture and gain a deeper understanding of Sweden's customs, language, people, and history.

    Graduates of the resident camp have the opportunity to travel to Sweden to stay at camps affiliated with Norrkoping and Stockholm YMCAs and with Swedish families. This three week camper exchange program is partially funded by the campers' families and local Swedish fraternal organizations. Financial aid, based on demonstrated need, is available to those who meet the program's tuition assistance guidelines.

    Note: The Camper Exchange Program is not active at this time. Additional funding will have to be found to re-instate it.

    Camp Scandinavia at the YMCA is available and very popular.

  • Family Culture Day

    Due to the Corona Virus, Culture Days has been postponed until further notice.

    Family Culture Day

    CultureDay StrawOrnamentsOne of the ways The Scandinavian Studies Program preserves and perpetuates Scandinavian culture is through the monthly Scandinavian Culture Day held at Jamestown Community College. On the first Saturday of each month, October through May, children and their families have come to JCC to learn and share Scandinavian traditions. About 100 to 150 participate each month, and twenty volunteers lead sessions in Hardanger embroidery, woodcarving, Swedish language, knitting, folk dancing, storytelling, and singing. Participants also enjoy tasty snacks prepared by children and adults in the Scandinavian cooking class.


    CultureDay ChipCarvingFoods prepared include almond tarts, fruktsoppa (fruit soup), smorgas (Danish open-faced sandwiches), pepparkakor, spritz, and platter (Swedish pancakes). Crafts students have made include paskris (feathers on birch branches at Easter time), julgrans prydnader (Christmas tree ornaments), Viking ships, and dalaha hast wall hangings.


    CultureDay KnittingCulture Days offer fun, interesting, free family activities that promote Scandinavian traditions in ways that involve the whole family.


    Culture Days also provide an opportunity for American students to share their experiences in Sweden with young listeners and for Swedish exchange students to share their soccer and volleyball skills as well as their experiences of contemporary Scandinavian life.


    CultureDay Painting

    CultureDay Felting


     See the event calendar or our newsletter for announcements of these events.
Scandinavian Studies Committee
Executive & Finance
  • L. Durand Peterson, Executive Chair
  • Curt Westrom, Finance Chair
  • Juanita (Toots) Porter
  • Don Sandy
  • Greg Fish
Student Internship
  • Greg Fish, Chair
  • L. Durand Peterson
  • Curt Westrom
Publication / Newsletter / Website
  • Gwen Axelson, Chair
  • Donna Johnson
  • Dee Dee Hansen
  • Don Sandy
  • Curt Westrom
  • Durand Peterson
  • Greg Fish
  • Jon O'Brian
Program Committee
  • Juanita (Toots) Porter, Chair
  • Gwen Axelson
  • Scott Axelson
  • Susanna Ecklof
  • Dee Dee Hansen
  • Donna Johnson
  • Jeff Kroon
  • Karen Livsey
  • Maria Malmstrom
  • Lynne Meyers
  • Jon O'Brian
  • Ed Sandberg
  • Don Sandy
  • Petter Turnquist
Genealogy Saga of the Hills Book
  • Karen Livsey
  • Mary Ann Ingrao
  • Donna Johnson
  • Ed Sandberg
  • John Sellstrom
Swedish Council
  • Steve Sellstrom

Scandinavian Studies Program
525 Falconer Street
PO Box 20
Jamestown, NY 14702-0020
Phone: 716.338.1185
 Fax: 716.338.1460