I Go to America
Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
This project began one day in the summer of 1993 with a phone call to my husband from the kitchen of Fru T’s café in Växjö, Sweden. Barely able to contain my excitement, I shared with him how I had happened upon a fascinating memoir about a single Swedish immigrant woman named Mina Anderson. Her life story illustrated so many of the experiences of ...
Go only if you will have things better .”1 Mina Anderson’s family gave her this advice in 1890 when she told them she planned to leave Sweden and emigrate to America. Mina was one of nearly a quarter-million young single women who left their Swedish homeland for the United States between 1881 and 1920.2 Perhaps recalling that early advice, she ...
1. “I Grew Up on Simple Fare”
In the forest, by a beautiful lake, lay the so-called castle. That was not its proper name, but it was called so since it was larger than the other crofter cottages. It was actually a place where old workers lived after they had worn themselves out working for the company and there was no room for them anywhere else.1 ...
2. “So Tired of Hard Work and Disappointment”
Now it was time for me, as for many others, to go out and earn my bread myself. I applied for a position as a nursemaid, but it was already taken. I then took a position as a farmer’s maid. I was of course only fifteen years old; it was hard work and I hadn’t learned so much of such work.1 I was ignorant about most of it but it didn’t take so long to learn. I had to get ...
3. “I Go to America”
Like so many others in the 1880s and 1890s when the immigrant stream to America was at its peak, I had long wished that I would be able to go but could never save enough of my small wages for a ticket. At that time it was hard for poor people in Sweden, and everyone who could possibly scrape together [enough money], or receive a ticket from anyone, went. ...
4. “A Good Position”
My relative was an older man who had never been married. He had worked in the forests in Norrland and saved a small amount, large enough for a ticket to America and to buy 40 acres of land near town. If he’d had sense enough to remain on that place he would with time have become a rich man, if he had been allowed to live. The area later became a part of ...
5. “A Nice Little Nest”
I was saving money to pay for a ticket and send for my sister. When she came I had just married, so I had a home in which to receive her. I had, after some time, met an orderly and kind man whom I learned to love and who gave me a home and his love. We were both alone, strangers in a strange land. . . . My husband was a tailor. First we lived in town ...
6. “I Was Happy When I Heard Them Hammering”
In 1895, the year after we arrived, many settlers came here. I was happy when I heard them hammering and pounding in the vicinity because then I knew that I would have neighbors. I used to walk across the forest in the direction where I heard they were building and introduce myself. I said I was happy we would be neighbors and bid them welcome. ...
The evening of my life has so far been light. I have not been alone for such a long time! My husband died after a brief illness three years ago. It feels empty without him, but my children and grandchildren are all good to me, and I have a good life. Now that I have time to think, my thoughts often fly to the dear fatherland where I lived the days of my childhood and youth, and to friends who ...
Illustration and map credits
Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 45 b&w photos and illustrations, 5 maps
Publication Year: 2009
MUSE Marc Record: Download for I Go to America