by Eloise Nelson
Thirty-six enthusiastic participants enjoyed a spring weekend tour in Minnesota—a major destination of Swedish immigrants in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Our activities began at the American–Swedish Institute on Friday evening, May 2, 2008, where we viewed exhibits on Swedish emigration, including a special display of Swedish painter Anders Zorn’s etchings. The evening concluded with a dinner at the Institute with entertainment by the North Star Nordic Dancers and a lecture on Swedish immigrant farm wives by Professor Joy Lintelman of Concordia College.
On Saturday the group boarded a bus for Chisago County, the setting for Vilhelm Moberg’s entrancing novels—The Emigrants, Unto a Good Land, and The Last Letter Home. These books describe the joys and sorrows of the fictional characters Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson, who left Småland for a new life in Chisago County.
Here we visited the Chisago Lake Lutheran Church Museum and Archives, “Nya Duvemåla” (the house chosen by Moberg as the “American house” for his immigrant family), the nearby Glader Cemetery, the eleven-acre Gammalgården Museum and Scandia Butik, and the statue of Karl Oskar and Kristina. Gracious local hosts prepared coffee breaks with Swedish treats and a Swedish-style lunch.
After returning to the Sheraton Minneapolis Midtown Hotel in Minneapolis, we enjoyed a closing program led by SAHS president Philip Anderson, in which participants reflected on the day’s highlights and the extraordinary way that the Swedish–Americans in Chisago County and Minneapolis have preserved and showcased their rich history.