Historical group honors Brolander

Oak Park Heights resident receives Carl Sandburg Medal

Glen Brolander of Boutwells Landing in Oak Park Heights was given the Carl Sandburg Medal by Eric Lund, left, former Swedish American Historical Society president and current society president, Dr. Philip Anderson. The medal was given for service to the Swedish-American Community. (Photo courtesy of Bob Rupp)

Boutwells Landing resident Glen Brolander was honored by the Swedish-American Historical Society for his long-time service to the Swedish American community at an awards ceremony last weekend.

“It’s a big deal to me both because of my long time involvement with the Historical Society and my interest in Swedish American Activities,” Brolander said.”

Brolander, who has dedicated much of his life to Swedish-American causes, has been recognized for his work in a variety of organizations.

A former chair of the Swedish Council he helped organize the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center. It’s the largest center in America for Swedish Genealogical records and he was first chair of its advisory board from its founding in 1981 until 2004. He was also director of the Historical Society from 1973 until 1988 and its president in 1982 to 1984.

Brolander, who is 100 percent Swedish, developed his interest in his Swedish heritage when he joined the staff of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. It is the oldest of all Swedish-American colleges and he worked there for 40 years as the school’s vice president for financial affairs. Since then, he and his wife, Elaine, have connected with relatives and family in Sweden.

“I think that as a person with Swedish heritage that it is important for us to know our roots and where we come from. A lot of the people looking into their backgrounds are third generation, like me. Their grandparents came from another country and the first and second generation seem to forget about their past. They moved to America because they wanted to become American so they made an effort to not use the language and didn’t say much to their children about the old country.” Brolander said. “I think that third generation Americans realize that they can be American but still have an interest in the country of their forefathers. The research center helps many people find their roots and establish contact with their relatives. The Swenson center is all about establishing that contact.”

The Carl Sandburg Medal is given to those in the Swedish American community that have benefited the community through their work. Previous recipients of the Sandburg Medal include former University of Minnesota President Nils Hasselmo and the late Conrad Bergendoff, former president of Augustana College.

The medal is added to multiple awards that Brolander has recieved throughout his life including: the “Great Achievement Award” of the Swedish Council of America last April for his long time leadership in Swedish Affairs in America. Other awards include the Swedish Order of the North Star in 1979 and Swedish-American of the year in 1998.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]