Library talk looks at how the Swedes ended up in Brattleboro

BRATTLEBORO — Join Lyndon State College Professor Paul Searls on Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 7 to 9 p.m., for a talk on his research toward an upcoming book on Swedish immigration to Vermont in the 19th century.

The talk, “Major Valentine's Swedes: the story of Brattleboro's Andersons,” is at Brooks Memorial Library's meeting room, and is free and open to the public.

According to Searls, in 1890, Alonzo B. Valentine, Vermont's commissioner of Agricultural and Manufacturing Interests, 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 promptly discontinued, and generally has been dismissed, both by contemporaries and historians, as “a preposterous fiasco,” Searls says.

But, he adds, the program yielded 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.

Searls has had a joint appointment in teaching history and music at Lyndon State College since 2005. He received his Ph.D. from New York University, and taught at the University of Vermont from 1996 to 2005. He is author of “Two Vermonts: Geography and Identity, 1865-1910.”

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