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October 1920: The Women Who Led the Way: From Sweden

1920 Hartford was home to many foreign born people. The Hartford Public Library Annual Report that year lists the foreign language books purchased to accommodate all of these new arrivals.  The languages included Danish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Yiddish.  People from the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden were well represented, with the largest number coming from Sweden.  They came to Hartford to work in factories like Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool Company.  Their wives and daughters, mothers and sisters, registered to vote in October 1920.  Five years prior, the Hartford Courant wrote:

Like the other nationalities, the Swedish people grasp the American spirit quickly: the system of government of the United States appeals to them; but, nevertheless, they cherish the old customs and traditions of their fathers. Insofar as it is possible, they enjoy in America the customs which have been in vogue in the land of the midnight sun for hundreds of years. They desire, for memories’ sake, to retain in mind and in fancy what they have given up in reality by leaving the beloved home land[1].

Below is a representative sampling of their voter registration cards. 

Christine Larsen Anderson

Agnes Bergquist Anderson

Amanda Swanson Anderson lived at 32 Putnam Heights, along with her husband Seth, and a boarder. 

Edith Carlson Calgren

Bertha Carlson Carlson

Ida Larson Carlson

Anna Hammerstrom Johnson

Swedish Evangelical Zion Church

In the 1920 City Directory, Hilder Larson (Mrs. F.E. Larson) and Alvida Englund (Mrs. F.O. Englund) are listed as Deaconesses of the Swedish Evangelical Zion Church. Of the four Swedish churches, this was the only one to have women serve in this capacity.

Agnes Erickson Bjork

Hannah Carlson Ahlgren

Amanda Swanson Anderson

Alma Berquist Carlson

Why do all these houses look the same?

A popular form of housing for immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the "Perfect Six." Today Hartford maintains more of these buildings than any other Connecticut city. Each of the building's three stories contained two apartments, which were mirror images of each other. The parlor was in front, followed by bedrooms, a kitchen, and a rear porch. Today, many have been converted into townhouses.

Ellen Peterson Carlson

Amanda Anderson Johnson

Augusta Forsborg Johnson

Hilder Peterson Larson

Alvida Johnson Englund

Swedish Bethel Baptist

13 Mortson Street was home to Axel and Agnes Bjork, and their children Alice and Arthur. 

Betty Josephson Anderson

Annie Mahl Anderson

Amanda Anderson Carlson

Emma Carlson Carlson

Charlotte Olson Larson

Charlotte Larson immigrated from Sweden in 1898, became a naturalized citizen in 1903, and registered to vote at age 39. She shared her home with her husband, Charles, and their three daughters, Ruth, Ebba, and Alvina.

Swedish Lutheran Emanuel Church

Ethnic groups immigrating to Hartford brought their religious traditions with them, and the Swedes were no exception. In 1920, there were at least four Swedish churches, all within a square mile. Of the four, three buildings remain today, and one of the churches (Emanuel Lutheran) remains in operation in its original location.

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[1] THE SWEDISH-PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN HARTFORD: PASTORS OF HARTFORD SWEDISH CHURCHES. 1915. The Hartford Courant (1887-1922), Aug 08, 1915. (accessed August 14, 2020).

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