Of all the places I’ve written about so far, the Chautauqua Room is probably the least known. I first discovered the room when I was doing my tour training last year to become a student ambassador. The Chautauqua Room is located in the Hultquist Library on the Jamestown Campus, across from the student computer lab. It’s distinguished by the Scandinavian memorabilia, pictures, and old city directories displayed around the room and encased in glass-fronted cabinets, all having to do with the history of Jamestown and Chautauqua County.
Many people from the Jamestown area are of Scandinavian descent; I’m 50% Swedish myself! Included in the room are a myriad of plates, hats, programs, and even a pair of wooden shoes, all paying tribute to this Scandinavian heritage. One of the items that caught my eye was relatively innocuous at first glance: a program from the luncheon given by the Nordon Club of Jamestown. The unique feature about this? The title etched across the bottom welcomes “His Majesty Carl XVI Gustav King of Sweden and Her Majesty Silvia Queen of Sweden” to Jamestown Community College on October 22, 2011. It was an incredibly exciting event. How many other colleges get to play host to a real King and Queen? I was able to be a part of that memorable day because I was in the Jamestown High School Marching Band, and we played for them when they got off of the plane at the Jamestown Airport. The experience was truly unforgettable.
As I was browsing around the room, I found a book entitled, Swedish Passenger Arrivals in New York 1820-1850 by Nils William Olsson. The book gives detailed lists of the Swedish immigrants who arrived in New York. It gives the date the boat arrived, the name of the vessel, and the passenger’s name, age, sex, and occupation. The book also contains a collection of pictures of some of the passengers. Unfortunately, my ancestors came after 1850 so I wasn’t able to find them. Besides countless books about Sweden, Norway, and Finland, the Chautauqua Room houses books actually written in the native languages of those countries. Guessing from the structure of the books–and only guessing, since I can’t read them–they range from cook books to novels to prayer books and Bibles. Most of them look very old. In one I found that the copyright date listed as 1891.
There is so much heritage and history just in this one room. You can use the Chautauqua Room to learn more about the history of Chautauqua County, discover your heritage, or you can just use it as a quiet place to study. If you haven’t yet paid the Chautauqua Room a visit, I strongly encourage you to the next time you’re in the Hultquist Library!