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America Letters

This guide is for anyone looking to conduct research on “America Letters” (letters written by Swedish immigrants in the United States to family back home in Sweden) using Swenson Center resources.

Archival Collections

The Swenson Center has many collections of correspondence and America Letters in Swedish and English, between Sweden and Swedish America. Here are just a few!


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. The letters contain information about various people related to or known to Magdalena and about recent events in her home parish and nearby Skåne, Sweden. The bulk of the letters are written by her uncle Lars and sisters Maria and Christina regarding issues of financial matters, such as whether the land inherited from their uncle Nils should be leased instead of sold due to harsh economic conditions in Sweden. The letters also contain 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: 98  Joseph Peterson family papers

Family papers containing clippings, correspondence, genealogical notes, and emigration certificates.


MSS P:164  Erik Lawson papers

The papers include a typed biographical manuscript with various handwritten emendations, correspondence (1787-1882), handwritten notes, financial papers (1879-1884), and various printed matter.


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:328  David Johansson letters

The collection consists of 52 handwritten letters to David Johansson from various friends and family members from Sweden and the United States. Letters were collected by Johansson while he was living in Sweden and after he immigrated to Swedesburg, Iowa. Many of the letters also have their corresponding envelopes, though most stamps were removed prior to coming to the Swenson Center. All letters are in Swedish.


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

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:346  Peter Froeberg family letters, autobiography, and other materials

Letters from Peter Froeberg (Augustana Theological Seminary graduate and president emeritus of Upsala College) to his brother, Sven Froeberg, after immigrating to the United States. Letters describe their experience as immigrants trying to find employment, education, pastoral work, and familial matters. Peter serves as a mentor to his younger brother. Collection also contains background information on the brothers, Peter Froeberg's autobiography, audio recordings of Peter and photographs of Peter's family.  Letters were written by Peter Froeberg and sent to his brother, Sven Froeberg, over the course of 65 years. The location of Sven's letters to Peter is not known.


MSS P:350  Emil Anderson papers, 1895-1949

Collection includes letters from relatives in Sweden, death notices, informal pictures from outings at Cape Horn, Lindström, Minnesota, and various receipts.


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.


For Love Letters, see for example:

MSS P:258  Mabel Anderson and Carl Lorimer correspondence

The papers include correspondence between Carl Lorimer, an Augustana Seminary student in Rock Island, Illinois and Mabel Anderson, a schoolteacher in Ottumwa, Iowa, 1907-1911. Carl's letters describe his life as a seminary student and summer obligations preaching in various Midwest Lutheran churches. He was involved with the student Republicans and wrote for the student newspaper, The Observer. Mabel's letters describe her work as a teacher, church activities, and encounters with friends and family members. These letters follow a friendship, courtship, engagement, and eventual marriage during the early 1900s.


For Soldier letters, see for example:

MSS P:31  Richard C. Holtman papers

The collection consists of history papers written by Richard Holtman, World War II letters written by Richard's father, Carl Holtman, to his wife Gladys and son Richard, family genealogy research and a commemorative stamp collection.


MSS P:55  Mathilda Cassel Peterson Danielsson papers

The papers consists of photocopies of a typescript manuscript prepared by Earl Check of Madrid, Iowa, entitled "Civil War Letters to New Sweden, Iowa," and biographical information about the Cassel family from Kisa parish in Östergötland who settled in New Sweden, Iowa in 1845.


MSS P:129  Mercy Brittain papers

The papers include typescript copies of letters in English from civil war soldiers John Brittain and Daniel Cowell to Mercy M. Brittain. The papers also include one handwritten letter in Swedish from C.J Larson addressed to his wife (no name).


MSS P:260  Alphonse Hvalgren and Hulda Gustafson papers

The papers contain a variety of original documents such as passenger contracts, passports, receipts from steamships, Declaration of Intention, World War I draft cards, and correspondence between Hulda Gustafson in Sweden an Alphonse Hvalgren in the United States, some of which were opened by the mail censor during World War I. Also includes information on Emanuel Hvalgren (1827-1908), Alphonse Hvalgren's maternal grandfather, who was a Swedish philosopher and schoolteacher.


SA-108  Hans Westerlund

1842-1874, Papers, Correspondence (including Civil War letters)