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Exhibits highlighting the collections of the Swenson Center are featured in the main reading room. You are welcome to the Center to view the current exhibit or browse through the internet version of exhibits past and present at this site.

Exhibit on Immigrant Letters

The letters used in this exhibit are samples from four different collections of personal papers.The letters vary greatly in scope and writing style and include correspondence between Swedish-Americans residing in the United States and letters from relatives in Sweden. Below is a short description of each collection.

The Johannes Telleen letter collection, 1904-1927. Telleen was teaching at the Hauge Seminary in Minneapolis, served Augustana Churches in the Chicago area and Benton, Michigan when he received the bulk of these letters. The content of the letters is mostly professional in tone and reflects Telleen's devoted involvement with the Augustana Synod.

The Carl Lorimer and Mabel Anderson correspondence, 1907-1911. Carl and Mabel corresponded faithfully for years before they were engaged and finally married in 1911. The correspondence sheds light on the life of an Augustana Seminary student during this time period and Mabel's career as a school teacher in Ottumwa, Iowa.

The Magdalena (Malena) Martensson Persson letter collection, 1883-1951. A majority of these letters are written by Magdalena's Uncle Lars and concern Magdalena and her sisters' land that is being leased instead of sold due to harsh economic conditions in Sweden. Lars also gives vivid details on the well being of Magdalena's family during the 1880s and 1890s.

The Olsson family letters, 1863-1900. The collection includes letters from relatives in Kristinehamn in Värmland and gives a commentary on the emigration from that region, working conditions at a factory at that time as well as detailed news on the extended family in Sweden.

Letters from The Johannes Telleen letter collection, 1904-1927

October 30, 1908

from friend and colleague P. Sjöblom to Pastor Telleen.

Sjöblom notes that he is pleased to hear that Telleen has received a call from Berwyn and hopes that his life as a "migrating bird" has come to an end. Sjöblom reiterates that he is not planning on writing a biography or a history of the revivalist's movement in Sweden since the faith within the synod has changed to more reflect the one of the state church in Sweden. He also notes that his working days are over and that he is waiting to be called home.

September 21, 1906

from Gustav Andreen, president at Augustana College, 1901-1935, to Pastor Johannes Telleen.

Andreen writes to Telleen on the occasion of his 60th birthday, which Telleen celebrated in Sweden. Andreen expresses his admiration for Telleen's accomplishments within the Augustana Lutheran church and also extends his gratitude and appreciation for the support Telleen has provided him over the years as a friend and mentor.


February 20, 1908

from F.A. Linder, president of the Illinois Conference 1906-1912 to Pastor Johannes Telleen.

Linder is reporting that the Illinois conference is beginning to conduct sermons in English and that pastor Lorimer has accepted a call to the Edgewater church (Chicago). Linder is hoping to call Telleen to the Englewood church at least for the summer months. He also reports that there are lots of projects in the "fire" and the mission is in debt, but the conference has promised to come to their aid.

March 13, 1908

from Swedish-American writer, Ernest Skarstedt to Pastor Johannes Telleen.

A short note from Skarstedt in which he expresses regrets for not knowing about Telleen's recent visit in Seattle and being able to meet him there to hear about Telleen's visit with Skartstedt's parents in Lund. Skirted also laments about the recent death of his father, which he says "did not come as surprise considering his age and he had according to the papers been ill for a period time."

February 22, 1908

from Anna S. Swanson, editor of the Swedish paper Fylgia, a weekly Swedish Literary Journal published in Chicago,1907-1909 to Pastor Johannes Telleen.

Swanson writes to Telleen asking him to submit a portrait which she will use in a section of Fylgia devoted to "noted" Swedish Americans. She writes about her responsibility as the editor for Fylgia, her regular editorial contributions to Svenska Amerika Tribunen and Linnea, and that she is longing take on a more meaningful job in the near future when her debts are paid.


Letters from the Carl Lorimer and Mabel Anderson correspondence, 1907-1911.

October 29, 1908

from Mabel to friend Carl.

Mabel writes about her daily routines as a teacher and church activities in which she is involved. She ends her letter by encouraging Carl to vote for the "right man" in what is his first presidential election.

November 6, 1908

from Carl to Mabel

Carl salutes the fact the he voted for the "right man" in the election and is pleased to have Taft as president. Carl also reports on his involvement with the election and how he chaired a committee that was responsible for counting votes at Augustana College.

September 27, 1910

a letter addressed to "My Darling Girl" from Carl.

Carl begins his letter with telling her how much he misses her and expresses real concerns about her cold and urges her to take care of herself. Carl continues with reporting on a successful Lutheran convention that just has taken place in Moline, Illinois and promises to send her clippings from the event. At the end of the letter there is a note from a mutual friend at Augustana College that congratulates Mabel on the engagement to Carl.

October 2nd, 1910

a letter from Mabel to "My own Dear Carl"

Mabel begins her letter by describing in detail the joy she felt when receiving the letter from him. She writes about her over crowded class room of 51 students and how she wishes that he could have been there to see all the children himself. She also shares details about her involvement in the church choir and the sewing circle.


Letters from the Magdalena (Malena) Martensson Persson letter collection, 1883-1951

December 12, 1889

from L. Mårtensson to his niece Malena (systerdotter).

Uncle Mårtensson begins his letter with "we are alive and well and healthy and live in the same place and everything is just like it always was...." He writes in detail about unfavorable economic times in Sweden and how he has not been able to sell the property Malena and her sister owns. Instead the land has been leased, which he projects will yield a better income than the interest from a potential sale.

March 7, 1898

from L. Mårtensson to niece Malena.

Uncle Mårtensson writes to inform Malena that the property has not yet been sold, but promises to inform her if there is any change. He writes that Malena's mother has suggested that he should encourage Malena to move back to Sweden, which he does not feel comfortable doing. He hopes instead that Malena will do what she thinks is best for herself and her family.

October 16, 1908

from sister Maria to Malena.

Maria begins her letter by apologizing for not having responded to Malena's letter with the photographs she received a long time ago. Maria reminisces about their mother and how enjoyable it was to have her around the house. She praises their mother's good nature and laments about her harsh life as a maid, working for her own brother until she was 73 years old. Maria also reports on relatives and friends and who have passed away.

February 26, 1920

from sister Christina to Malena.

"Dear sister and brother-in law thousands of thanks for the letter and the money you sent us, if you had been closer I would have done something good for you in return. It was nice to hear that you are in good health, which is the best of all things one can wish for...." Christina also comments on Mauritz' return from the war and the general economic hardship in Sweden with workers on strike and how
expensive everything is.


Letters from the Olsson family letter collection, 1863-1900.

January 28, 1890

from Wilhelm and Ida Andersson and Kerstin Ingeborg addressed to "Dear Cousins."

"Thank you for the newspaper that you sent us, we thought you had forgotten us but that is apparently not the case. First, I must tell you that we are all alive and well up until this moment I am writing...." Wilhelm writes about the financial struggle in Sweden and gives the American cousins a report on the family in Sweden, their health, and who has died and married.

March 20, 1892

from Wilhelm and Ida Andersson and their daughter Ingeborg

"The times are bad here and we work only eight hours per day, the emigration from this area is very large, and any news from home I do not have since I have not heard from them since before Christmas, but father is alive...." He ends his letter with "you must not have received our last letter since we never received a reply."

October 7, 1894

from Ida Anderson to relatives

"Since it has been a long time ago since we heard from you, I am for third time sending you a few lines to ask if you are still alive since we have read in the newspapers about the troubling times in America." Ida reports about deaths in the family and urges them to write back to confirm that they have received the news. She finishes with "I do not have any other news to share with you, but am letting you know that we are in good health, which is very good and I wish that these lines will find you all with the same good gift."

February 15, 1883

from Lovisa to Dear relatives

"We have now waited for a letter for a long time from you dear friends, but in vain. A newspaper finally arrived from you, which we thank you for, we could at least then see that you are alive and well , which is a gift to thank God for..." Lovisa shares news from family and friends.