This essay is based on my recent visit to The Swedish American Museum located in the Andersonville community at 5211 S. Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois. In the 1850s the area was considered to be north of Foster and east of Clark was a large cherry orchard, and families had only begun to move into the fringes of what is now Andersonville. Swedish immigrants continued to arrive in Andersonville throughout the beginning of the 20th century. The Swedish American Museum was founded in 1976, by Kurt Mathiasson, as a grassroots effort to preserve and disseminate the history of the great contributions of early Swedish immigrants to Chicago.
First of all, I observed a rich cultural museum that has gained national acclaim as a model urban museum. It is filled with unique and valued artifacts, exhibits, and historic information that relates to the Swedish Immigration to Chicago. There was a replica of a Swedish log cabin exhibit from Valmasen, Harjedalen near the Norwegian border. There was a mannequin in the log cabin that represented Stina Olofsdotter, mother of Anders Larson and his family, who immigrated to America in 1868. This type of journey could take up to a couple of months depending on the conditions at sea. The log cabin also had cabinet that held many beautiful types of linen. I noticed the white candle wicked bedspread with crocheted edging on the sides. The cotton apron on the straight-back wooden chair has a crocheted trim. The wooden objects in the cabin include a candleholder, wood canister with a cover, and homemade wooden rake. The art of bending, coopering, and shaping wooden objects was highly developed in the 19th century Sweden, and formed the basis for a cottage industry. Across from the log cabin are the large American chests the immigrants used to pack their belongings for their journey to America. They would bring only their necessary items, such as clothing, food, tools, the bible, perhaps a small musical instrument, or a toy for each child. Some of the trunks have the name of the owner and year of travel carved on the front. I saw a replica of a Swedish ticket agent and his role was to sell tickets for the railroad and ships and answer questions for the Swedes who were leaving their homeland.
Other examples of Swedish culture that I saw like replica Carpenter shop one of the first recliners was made at the Pullman Factory south of Chicago, Legend says that it was originally made for Abraham Lincoln to put in his first car on the train. The carpenter shop has a variety of woodworking tools like those used to create the furniture nearby. The wooden chair hanging from the wall can be folded out and turned into a bench. The chair on the floor was a “gesallprov” (apprentice test,), which a carpenter’s apprentice created to prove he was ready to become a master carpenter.
I saw many other items related to Sweden Traditions like Swedish Folk Costumes – Swedes wear these costumes on special occasions, during Midsummer, and...