Monday, July 7, 2014

Lilly Anderson Setterdahl

Swedish-American Author Lilly Setterdahl’s Newest Book about Immigrants

Submitted by:  Jeanne Rollberg

While there’s robust discussion in 2014 about the changed nature of the American Dream, Swedish-born author Lilly Setterdahl’s new book, True Immigrant Stories: The Swedes of Cleveland Ohio 1873-2013, mostly encompasses an earlier era when The Dream was still very real and achievable for many Swedes. The Setterdahl family lived in Cleveland for about 11 years.

This is the author’s 17th book about Swedish history and people.  Published by the Nobel Monitor Lodge No. 30 in Cleveland, the book traces Swedes who came directly from Sweden or from other states, such as Massachusetts, to Cleveland. The book contains oral histories about many of the individual Swedes’ journeys and about how they educated themselves to embrace, fit into, and enhance a new culture in Ohio.
 Lilly Anderson Setterdahl

          Mrs. Setterdahl grew up in Frändefors, Älvsborg län, Sweden and is a naturalized American who has written both non-fiction and fiction books about Swedes as well as many research articles. She has written non-fiction books about Swedes on the Titanic such as Not My Time to Die: Titanic and the Swedes On Board (2012) as well as novels about the topic, such as Maiden of the Titanic (2007) and Hero of the Titanic (2011). 

She often writes about the Midwest in books like Chicago Swedes: They Spoke From the Heart (2010). It was recently reviewed by Lars Jenner in Swedish American Historical Quarterly. Lilly is currently working on a revised edition of her out-of-print Minnesota Swedes: The Emigration from Trolle Ljungby to Goodhue County, published in 1996.  

          In an interview in 2012 with the Midwest Writing Center in Davenport, Iowa, Lilly Setterdahl shared observations for future generations of aspiring writers: “Find a subject that will attract readers. Take classes and attend workshops. Be prepared to work long hours. Don’t forget what you have already written before proceeding. Keep notes or copies of your research.”
Lennart Setterdahl, the author’s now-deceased husband who was originally also from Frändefors, likewise preserved Swedish history and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg for this documentation of Swedish immigrants in North America. The two worked together on many projects. Author Setterdahl has recreated a website dedicated to preserving her husband’s memory.  Lennart's webpage.

          Meanwhile, Mrs. Setterdahl has her own blog site here: Lilly's Blog and her books may be found on and other sites.

 True Immigrant Stories: The Swedes of Cleveland, Ohio, 1873-2013, can be ordered by sending an email to:    or   phone: 216-371-5141


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