The Royal Gustavus Adolphus Academy for Swedish Folk Culture was founded on 6 November 1932. The initiative to establish it was taken by Jöran Sahlgren, Professor of Scandinavian Toponymy at Uppsala University, who was also the first Secretary of the Academy. The first President was the historian, lawyer and politician Karl Gustaf Westman.

Under its Statutes, the Academy pursues its mission of promoting research into Swedish folk culture by publishing research findings in its publication series and journals, initiating and supporting academic studies, arranging lectures, symposia and field trips, and encouraging scholarly activities by means of scholarships and awards. The Academy takes its name from Gustavus Adolphus (Gustav II Adolf) on account of a famous memorandum for antiquarians and collectors of traditions, issued by the King on 20 May 1630. This document, composed by Johannes Bureus, called for an inventory to be made of everything the country had to offer by way of knowledge about the past: archaeological remains and manuscripts, customs, legends and songs, words and names. It can be seen as Sweden’s first programme for the study of folk culture.

The Academy meets six times a year, usually at its headquarters at Klostergatan 2 in Uppsala.

Thanks to generous donations, the Academy has a number of funds at its disposal and provides various forms of financial support.