Myrna G. Smith: “I hope runic research will continue to develop and flourish in future too”

Myrna Smith

For many years, Swedish-American Myrna G. Smith has supported runic research at Uppsala University. Over and above repeated generous donations, she has pledged a legacy of USD 1.5 million to support the establishment of a professorship in runology. Her ultimate aim is to secure and advance the future research environment in runology and linguistic history.

Myrna G. Smith is from Minnesota, but her roots lie in Skåne. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Runic Studies, an organisation in the United States founded to promote education and research on runes and runestones in the United States and Europe. She recently retired from her position as Director of Faculty Research and Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships at the University of Minnesota.

“My work gave me a deep insight into the long-term importance of basic research,” she explains. “In my opinion, we have a great deal to learn from runic research, a field that, though small, is extraordinarily important for insights into our history and culture. For that reason alone, it is vital to guarantee the continued development of runic research.”

There is great interest in runes and runic research in the United States. Many Swedish-Americans are curious about their history. There are nearly 7,000 known runestones and other runic inscriptions in the world, including some 100 in the United States. None of the runic objects in the United States are from the Viking Age; they were all engraved later, after an interest in runes arose in the 19th century. Old and recent finds await interpretation to reveal more about our shared history.

“As a Swedish-American, I am proud of my Scandinavian origins and that is why I have chosen to support the establishment of a professorship in runology at Uppsala University,” says Smith. “For one thing, the University is located in a region that has the world’s highest density of runestones. Secondly, it is home to the eminent runologist, Professor Henrik Williams. It is largely thanks to Professor Williams and his colleagues that Uppsala University has become an international leader in runic research. I am lending my support to ensure that runic research continues to flourish in the future.”