Backman Family papers


MSS 108
7 linear inches (2 boxes)

Name of Creator(s):

Backman, Carl August.
Backman, Helena.
Backman, Olga.


English, Swedish


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Access points:

Augustana College and Theological Seminary (Rock Island, Ill.)--students.

Finding aid prepared by:

Kirsten Mathisen


Augustana College Special Collections
Thomas Tredway Library
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201

Custodial History
Historical Note
Scope and Content
System of Arrangement
Related Materials
Container List


The materials in this collection were donated in 1995 by Helen Peterson Kaalstad, the granddaughter of Carl August and Helena Backman.


Carl August Backman was born on May 24, 1853, in Safsnas, Dalarne, Sweden. He came to the United States in 1868 and began to study at Augustana College in 1875. Backman received a BA in 1881 and graduated from Augustana Theological Seminary in 1883. In October of 1883 he married Helena Hoogner. After two years as a pastor in Ishpeming, Michigan, he accepted a position at the Swedish Lutheran congregation in Galesburg, Illinois, in the summer of 1885. He was well known in the area for his sermons and published essays. After her husband’s death on March 6, 1888, Helena Backman went on to participate in her own civic and church activities until her death on June 30, 1950. She was a member and served as president of the Augustana Women’s Missionary Society where she developed the successful “My Missionary for a Day” program. She was also a member of the Red Cross and Galesburg Cottage Hospital. Carl and Helena had three children, Lillian, Carl, and Olga. Olga, the youngest child, was born in 1888, was an art student at Augustana College, and died in 1973. Her postcards are included in this collection



The Backman Family papers date from 1876 to 1953 and measure 7 linear inches. The collection consists of four series: Carl Backman, Helen Backman, Olga Backman, and Family Photographs.

The Carl Backman series (1876-1953 and undated) includes his journals, autograph books, correspondence, essays, sermons, and artifacts. The journals are all written in Swedish, but seem to contain personal musings, notes on daily life, and even financial records. The essays and sermons on the other hand are in English, and are more formal and formatted pieces of writing.

The Helena Backman series (1903-1952 and undated) contains biographical and personal articles and clippings. Helena’s involvement with missions, and her longstanding membership and participation in various organizations is exemplified by these documents.

The Olga Backman Peterson series (1908-1911) consists of her postcard correspondence to family and friends. Many of the postcards are from her sister Lillian and some are from her brother Carl. The pictures on the postcards depict Augustana and Rock Island scenes.

The Family Photographs series (1912, 1917 and undated) has pictures of all four family members in various settings and at various times.



Materials in this collection are arranged by subject.






Carl Backman, 1876-1953

Biographical, 1888, 1953

Personal, 1876-1882, undated

Journals, 1876-1882, undated

Autograph Books, 1880-1883

Correspondance, 1882

Writings, 1885, undated

Essays, undated

Sermons, 1885, undated

Artifacts, undated


Helena Backman, 1903-1952

Biographical, 1903-1952

Personal, 1910-1940

Olga Backman Peterson, 1908-1911

Postcards, 1908-1911

Family Photographs1912, 1917, undated, 1903-1952

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