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Agriculture and Farm Life in Sweden and Swedish America

This guide is for anyone looking to conduct research on Swedish and Swedish American agricultural practices using Swenson Center resources.

Archival Collections

The Swenson Center has several collections related to agriculture and farming in Sweden and Swedish America. Here are a few:


MSS P:4   John Olof Viking papers

Viking's scrapbooks contain clippings from mostly local Upper Peninsula newspapers and they reflect his broad interests and curiosity in local history. The scrapbooks cover the period 1930-1953 and are arranged by subject, including Adventure, Agriculture, Conservation, Forests, Game Preserves/Refuge, Hunting and Fishing, National and State Parks, Nature and Scenery of the U.P., and Weather. Included in the scrapbooks is also some of Viking's correspondence to various institutions.


MSS P:149  Ernst Teofil Skarstedt collection

This collection includes more than 40 scrapbooks, journals, and articles compiled by Ernst Teofil Skarstedt. The volumes contain his writings and editorials submitted to Swedish and Swedish-American press and clippings on a wide variety of subjects such as Swedish-American biography and history, farming and agriculture, description and travel, prohibition, vaccination, criticism of the labor movements, literature, music and art.


MSS P:227  Peter S. Nelson diaries

The papers consist of 33 pocket diaries kept by Peter S. Nelson from 1860 to 1916. These diaries document Nelson's everyday life and personal finances. His diary entries are in the Swedish language up to 1869. Included is also one diary kept by his son Charles Nelson (1880) and a poem entitled "Vid min hembygd i Blekinge, 1895."


MSS P:300  Milton Anderson family correspondence

The papers include early letters written by Johan Anderson, grandfather of Milton T. Anderson, to parents and family in Sweden. His children Andrew, Oscar and Emma write later letters from the 1900s. The letters are mostly about family matters, but also give vivid descriptions of the farm life in Nebraska and compare it to farming in Sweden. The letters are written in Swedish.


SAC P:21  "The Farm Life of a Swedish Immigrant in Illinois, circa 1900-1925"

Collection includes one memoir "The Farm Life of a Swedish Immigrant in Illinois circa 1900-1925" by Elmer B. Oberg, undated (circa 1975-1983). Elmer B. Oberg was born in 1907 in Neponset, Illinois. This memoir details his life growing up farming with his family in western Illinois. His father, Nels (or Nils) Oberg, was born in 1872 in Sweden, came to the United States in 1890. This memoir describes his farm work as a frugal and resourceful man. Collection also includes two pages of family genealogical information for Nels (or Nils) Oberg, 1984.


SAC P:237  Hilda J. Linder papers

The papers consist of three autobiographical letters written by Hilda J. Linder. The first is dated 27 March 1988 and addressed to Joy Lintelman, a researcher of Swedish women immigrants (this is a photocopy). The second is dated 19 April 1988 and the third is dated 11 September 1990, and these two are addressed to Kermit Westerberg, archivist and librarian at the Swenson Center. Hilda was born in 1896 and immigrated to the United States in 1914. Her autobiography details her difficult family life in Sweden, her migration to the United States and life there as a single and married immigrant woman in Massachusetts, Vermont, South Dakota, and California, the effect of events like the Great Depression on the life of immigrants, and her experiences working on farms, as a maid in private homes, as a maid and cook in a hospital, and owner of a grocery store.