In search of New Sweden: Discovering the ‘American curiosities’ of Samuel Hesselius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In 1736 Samuel Hesselius, former pastor for the Swedish parishes in Pennsylvania, donated a collection of ‘American curiosities’ to Lund University in Sweden. Within less than twenty years, however, the collection had apparently disappeared. In the course of the past three decades the lost ethnographic artefacts have received increasing attention, but for a variety of reasons the collection has remained undetected – despite its importance having been highlighted by scholars from several academic fields since 1871 and despite the fact that the majority of the ethnographic artefacts ultimately turned out to have been on public display throughout this period (albeit with erroneous provenances) at the Historical Museum. Through examination of the archives and collections of Lund University, we have now been able to trace Hesselius’s ethnographic material – one of the oldest and largest collections of its kind – so that it now provides an invaluable snapshot of early eighteenth-century America.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Anthropology
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the History of Collections
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep 6
Publication categoryResearch