Nordstjernan, after 150 years of continuous publishing, really defies all descriptions. Founded in New York City only a few years after the end of the Civil War, in 1872, it was created to supply the growing numbers of immigrants to the area with news from the old country. Few copies at the time reached outside Greater New York since postal services were expensive, slow or non-existent and most of the subscribed copies were distributed by agents in different areas of the city. Fast forward to 2018; we are nationwide with readers in every state and are the only classic Swedish newspaper in the US, in print every other week. Our roots are still in New York where we started many years ago.
It is edited by me, Ulf Martensson, mostly under my full name, Ulf Barslund Martensson. My first encounter with the newspaper and its staff was a bit of a shock - for them, it and myself. I wasn't yet 30, it was the mid 1980s and suffice it to say, everything about the newspaper and how it was handled was as new to me as the first computer and digital typesetting equipment I bought for the company was for its staff.
We do other things as well. It has, to be brutally honest, from time to time been essential to do other things "to survive." It is also inspiring to be able to contribute to the lasting footprints of Sweden in America. We distribute select special interest books and also publish the contemporary magazine Nordic Reach and our own books, some in Swedish, some in English. The incredibly loyal readership of Nordstjernan, the heart and soul of our organization, is what makes it fun, however. The fact that we have well over 90% renewal rate among subscribers is something all American colleagues find absolutely incredible... (sometimes, so do I)
I'll make a long story short: It is over 30 years later. I have published over 1,250 issues of the newspaper now, as a non-resident publisher until 1996 and since I became a resident, on January 1, 1996, as publisher/editor. Some years - actually all of them - were great fun. We / I produced around 1,000 tabloid pages per year those first years, after I became resident. It was fun, it was a novelty to me to work in the USA and in New York of all places and we grew in readership once again (We had our first growth spurt at the time we hired a new office manager for the NYC office, in 1988 when we hired my wife to be, Mette, to run the office in Manhattan.)
We are both of us involved in keeping this institution alive and well now, my wife of 29 years, Mette, and I. I am sure it will come as no surprise that sometimes our two boys were involved as well. We have over the last few years created a virtual office, which enables us to work with a short list of staffers and contributors - a list that creates the unique mix of trivia, traditions, news summaries and opinion pieces or easy-to-read columns that have become our landmark.
Every picture tells a story..
The pages of this newspaper are a part of history. Going back through the years, you will find fates of the many early immigrants, the depression of the 1890s, WWI , the Titanic - whose return trip to Europe was advertised in the back section of the same issue to list the Swedes that perished in the seas.. WWII, the good years of the 1950s, the Viet Nam War, Nixon, Kennedy... the list goes on and on. Bear in mind, when you pick up your first issue in the mail, you are holding a piece of living history.
Welcome, enjoy reading, enjoy being part of a great community - that of Sweden in America.
Ulf Barslund Martensson
Editor in Chief & publisher