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Anna Olsson

Instructor in English, 1900-1902

Anna Olsson
Anna Olsson's home in Rock Island, Ill., has been designated a city landmark. It was built in 1900 and remains today nearly unchanged.

Anna Olsson was born on Aug. 19, 1866, in Värmland, Sweden. She was the first daughter of Olof and Anna Lisa Olsson. She immigrated with her parents and extended family to Lindsborg, Kansas, in 1869 when her father accepted the position of pastor in the small town. In 1876 Olof Olsson accepted a professorship at Augustana College and Theological Seminary, and Anna and her family moved to Rock Island, Illinois.

From 1882 to 1883 Anna Olsson attended Bethany Academy in Lindsborg, Kansas, but she returned to Rock Island later in 1883 and enrolled at Augustana College. She studied German language and literature and expressed interest in philosophy. The year of 1887 was difficult for Olsson because her mother died, and she became the "mother" of the family and took on the duties of a pastor's wife. Despite this setback, in 1888 Olsson was the second woman to graduate from Augustana College.

From 1888 to 1889, Anna Olsson was a teacher in the Children's Department at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. From 1889 to 1890, the Olsson family toured Europe. While there, Anna Olsson spent several months at a German school. She also attended literature and philosophy lectures at the University of Zurich. Then in 1891, Olof Olsson was unanimously elected president of Augustana College, and the family moved to Rock Island once again.

In 1895 Anna Olsson became the principal of Ladies' Hall at Augustana College, a position she held until 1900. From 1900 to 1902 she served as an instructor in English at Augustana.

Anna Olsson published her first story anonymously in 1901 in Ungdomsvännen. She wrote in English as well as Swedish, and her work appeared mainly in church-related periodicals or under the imprimatur of the Augustana Book Concern, often under the pen name "Aina." Her work includes both fiction and nonfiction, and was written mostly for children.

In 1917 she published En Prärieunges Funderingar, or "A Prairie Child's Thoughts," a semi-autobiographical work written from a child's perspective. It gives a detailed description of the Olsson family's move to the United States from Sweden and of her school days at Augustana.

Anna Olsson remained in Rock Island working as a writer until she died at the age of 79 on Feb. 15, 1946. She was buried in the family plot in Riverside Cemetery, Moline.