Alrik Gustafson was born on April 23, 1903 in Sioux City, Iowa. He received his undergraduate and graduate training from the University of Chicago, earning his undergraduate degree in 1925 and his Ph.D. in modern European literature in 1935. Dr. Gustafson was a member of the faculty at Central State Teachers College, Stevens Point, Wisconsin (1928-1929), Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois (1929-1935) and Cornell University (1935-1939) before joining the faulty of the Scandinavian Department at the University of Minnesota as an assistant professor in 1939. He was promoted to associate professor in 1945, professor in 1950 and appointed as chair of the department in 1946. He also held the position of director of the Center for Northwest European Languages and Area Studies at the University. Dr. Gustafson was a prolific writer, publishing extensively in the field of Scandinavian literature and was considered one of the world's leading authorities in the field at the time of his death on March 24, 1970.
From the guide to the Alrik Gustafson papers, 1930-1960, (University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc])