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Swedish American Women and Women’s Issues

This guide is for anyone looking to conduct research on Swedish American women and women’s issues using Swenson Center resources.

Archival Collections

The Swenson Center has several collections related to women’s experiences in Swedish America. This is not an exhaustive list!


CSC-1  American Daughters of Sweden (Chicago, Ill.) records

The collection consists of history from 1925, 5 pages; by-laws from 1926, 6 pages; and minutes,1925-1957, 1963-1965, 2123 pages. The organization was founded in 1925.


E-6254-4  Jenny Lind Club of Detroit records

The club was organized in 1937 for women of Swedish descent and women married to men of Swedish descent. The purpose of the club was to promote and preserve Swedish culture.


I/O:46  SWEA International records

The Swedish Women's Educational Association International, Inc. is a global non-profit organization for Swedish speaking women who live and have lived outside Sweden. The organization has chapters throughout the world. SWEA was founded in Los Angeles in 1979 by Agneta Nilsson. The mission of the organization is to promote Swedish culture, the use of the Swedish language and to establish networks for its members across the world. The collection includes meetings minutes from SWEA International and local chapters, financial statements, information about events, correspondence and more.


I/O: 60  Augustana Lutheran Women's Home (Omaha, Neb.) records

The home was founded in 1892 by Miss Marie Hoiness under the name Scandinavian Young Women's Christian Association. Ms. Hoiness was called to Omaha from her duties as a schoolteacher and inner mission worker in Ishpeming, Michigan. The homes main mission was to provide a home for girls and young women of Swedish descent in the city of Omaha.


MSS P:25  Magdalena Persson Mårtensson letters

This collection contains letters written primarily to Magdalena Persson Mårtensson (nicknamed Malena) and her husband Nils between 1883 and 1929. Some of the letters are written to her husband Nils and her children in the aftermath of her death in 1929. Some of the letters are written in the 1930s and 1950s during which Magdalena's youngest sister Kristina dies. The bulk of the letters are written by her uncle Lars and sisters Maria and Christina regarding issues of financial matters, harsh economic conditions in Sweden, vivid information about ordinary life in the countryside of southern Sweden during the early 20th century, the impact of industrialization of the Swedish economy, the First World War and the following social and economic crises of the 1920s.


MSS P: 301  Amanda Ehn Johnson letters, 1876-1940

This collection contains letters between Amanda Ehn and her friends and family, mostly siblings, in and around Stora Åby, Sweden, after her immigration to Galesburg, Illinois in 1877. Includes copies of letters from her sponsors, Charlotte and A.J. Strömstedt of Galesburg, Illinois (then of Rockford, Illinois), regarding the pre-paid ticket they were about to send to her.


MSS P:318  Zaida Munson letter collection

The papers consist of letters, a typewritten biographical accounts of Zaida Munson and her mentor Elizabeth Anderson, and twelve photographs (and paper copies) of Zaida and her class mates at Augustana College. The letters are mainly from Zaida's mother, Cora Munson, who encourages her daughter in her studies and keeps her informed of events at home.


MSS P:329  Anna Persson Cave family papers, 1897-2006

Anna Persson was one of nine children born to Carl Gustaf Persson and Severina Gunnarsson in Halmstad, Sweden on December 9, 1887. Anna Persson immigrated to Bloomington IL in 1907, and later moved with her sister Sigrid to New York City. Anna began working as a maid in New York City and when her employer moved to Vermont, she went too.  In the summer of 1913 in Brattleboro, Vermont, Anna met Frederick Cave, and they were married in Boston, Massachusetts on February 28, 1914. They had two children. Frederick died on December 19, 1921. Anna Persson Cave was 34 and took in sewing to support her young family. The collection consists of letters, photographs, report cards, sewing examples, and genealogical information of Anna Persson Cave and Eleanor Cave Hatch and family.


MSS P:331  Martha Christensson school papers, 1923

This collection includes 9 English lessons and practice sheets from a course Martha Christensson took at the YWCA in 1923. The school was located at the Ballard School, Central Branch, YWCA, 610 Lexington Avenue, New York City. The course was "Oral and Reading Lesson" "For Non-English Speaking Women."


MSS P:332  Selma Olivia Moberg missionary to China collection

The collection includes postcards Selma sent to Anna Bjork, publications from the Mission (in English and Chinese), photographs of Selma and the South Chihli Mission, and textiles and cultural objects from China. [See also MSS P:336, Selma Olivia Moberg photograph collection].


MSS P:337  Harriet E. Carlson papers

The collection represents the lifetime of a Swedish-American woman's work in advertising, writing, and publishing. The bulk of the collection centers on Carlson's writing, self-editing, notes, inspiration, and quest to publish a manuscript and screenplay.


MSS P:344  Euphemia Peterson nursing papers, 1910-1948

Collection of materials from Euphemia Peterson's nursing career. Peterson graduated from Augustana Hospital Training School in Chicago in 1911 and received additional training in public health nursing at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She was a registered nurse in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. This collection includes newspaper clippings related to her nursing career and public health concerns at the time (1910s-1930s), nursing correspondence and certificates, registration cards in local and national nursing associations, a school photograph of Euphemia in nursing uniform, and a nurse's cap.


MSS P:347  Elsie Ahlwén Sundeen evangelist music and other materials

This collection contains Elsie Ahlwén Sundeen's correspondence, sheet music (both written by and collected by Elsie), sound recordings of Elsie, diaries, sermons, and advertising brochures of the her evangelist activities. Many of the sound records were self-recorded.


 SAC P:83  Marie Westerberg Vader papers

Collection contains Marie Westerberg Vader's historical sketches of Iowa Lutheran Hospital and Nurses' Training School in Des Moines, Iowa from 1913 to 1918.  Her reminiscences of the training school concentrate on the first and second graduating classes and living and working conditions at the hospital.


SAC P:124  Hilda Louisa Peterson papers

The papers consist of an autobiographical account written by Hilda Louise Peterson who was born in Swedeburg, Nebraska 1878 to Swedish immigrants.


SAC P:154  Maria Ramstädt Olson family papers

The papers consist of biographical information on Maria Ramstädt, including clippings and a flyleaf from a bible. She was born to Swedish immigrant parents in Ishpeming, Michigan.


SAC P:326  Emelie Gardell papers

Excerpts of letters in Swedish with English translations 1892-1916, written by Emelie Gardell to her mother in-law, Elisabeth Gardell in Stenkyrka.


SAC P:237 Hilda J. Linder papers

The papers consist of an autobiographical account describing Hilda J. Linder's life as a single and married immigrant woman in Massachusetts, South Dakota and California. Linder wrote the autobiography in 1988. She was born in 1896 and immigrated to the United States in 1914.


SAC P: 330  Charlotte Odman papers

A story written about a Swedish girl from Ramsosa in Skåne entitled "Anna," 1935.