Every year the Sven Hedin Foundation is approached by a great number of people of all ages, from all walks of life; people interested in general as well as scientists from almost any scientific field.
Their requests for assistance, often to get access to or direction to material, mirror the wide variety of fields in which Sven Hedin was active.
Sven Hedin might be best known for his four major scientific missions to Asia, charting large tracts of previously unmapped areas of Persia/Iran and Central Asia. But during those many years spent in the field he also pursued a host of other scientific activities; geological, botanical, zoological, meteorological, paleontological, paleobotanical……, keeping detailed records, building collections of all sorts.
In addition to those daily tasks and routines related to geo/earth-sciences he was a keen observer of the social, cultural and historical contexts of the inhabited areas he travelled through, recording his observations with his photographic equipment, in his note- and his sketchbooks, building a substantial library to support his production of books and reports.
He made a number of important archaeological discoveries, but left detailed excavations to others.
During his last expedition, or rather set of expeditions (1927-35), though, he primarily acted as the negotiator, organiser and provider for an international team of scientists conducting co-ordinated research in geosciences as well as the humanities; archaeology, ethnography and history of religions playing more important roles than before.
All these activities spanning a long and ceaselessly active life resulted in a great number of publications; travelogues, youth-books, schoolbooks and multivolume scientific reports as well as numerous articles, published in more than thirty different languages.
They also resulted in a great number of collections of the most varied kinds, today kept in many different museums and institutions, primarily in Sweden but also in other countries.
Hedin’s manifold activities, not the least his correspondence with his family and close colleagues, and with persons of political and scientific importance all around the world resulted in building what is claimed to be the next biggest personal archive found in Sweden, also containing his family history, many generations back
As revealed in his publications, and not the least in his personal archive, Sven Hedin was a major public figure, primarily on the domestic scene but also internationally, and as such often a disputed one. From the podium and in the newspapers and magazines he not only communicated his scientific finds and entertained the public with popular accounts of his adventures, he also gave voice to his ideas on a range of social, cultural and political issues. He entered the political arena already early in life and was increasingly politically active before as well as during the Great War as a proponent for unmistakably conservative positions. His unyielding support for the German cause during those years and his geopolitical standpoint that Germany would be the only power in Europe to stand up against Russian expansionist threats were carried over into the Second World War. His unbroken support for the German side then also contained ample praise for Nazi-Germany’s leaders, severely tainting his reputation.
Sven Hedin thus left truly enormous resources behind in the form of archives and collections of objects and materials. They are spread out over various institutions and museums, primarily in Sweden, but also around the world. This website is intended to be a guide to these resources, but is also meant to assist the reader/researcher interested in Sven Hedin himself, his family, fellow researchers.
It will be gradually built, refined and corrected over time in collaboration with you, readers and users of this website. The intention is also to directly or via links provide actual access to archival and other resources; photographs, documents, publications and collections of various sorts. It will be a forum for news on publications and public events. And it will offer scientific books from the Sven Hedin Foundation still in print, rare publications from its stores, maps and reproductions.