A 'Swenglish' journey through family photos, notes and postcards from the early 20th century.

English Intro

From a postcard sent 1902,
print marked K.V.i.B. 12 No. 204



Greetings from the Past

In the process of sorting through old family papers after my father passed away in 2011, besides various family photos and notes on family history, I found a collection of postcards from the early 20th century (circa 1900-1930). 

There are two postcard albums, which seem to have belonged to my paternal grandmother Sally's elder half-siblings Gustaf (1878-1952) and Gerda (1881-1973)


These two siblings both went off to America to live and work for about a decade in the early 20th century. Gerda after that period also travelled in Europe and other countries. Quite a few of the cards were written by Gerda to her brother; the rest by other family members or friends.


I remember being told in the past, that Gerda was chamber maid or similar to Estelle Manville-Bernadotte, American wife of the well-known Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte, related to the Swedish royal family. However, when I began checking some facts and dates, I discovered that when Gerda first went to America (1902), Estelle was not even born yet, so obviously there was a lot I did not know about Gerda's life between 1902-1928 (when Folke and Estelle Bernadotte got married). Some things have become a little clearer since I started to dig deeper, along with blogging about my discoveries here.


Gustaf emigrated in 1902 as well, but he did not stay in America either. He came back to Sweden in 1911, some years after the death of his father, living at the family farm  with his older brother Carl, their stepmother and her three younger children - one of them my grandmother Sally, born 1900. He does not seem to have travelled abroad again.

My great-grandfather Samuel and my great-grandmother Selma were both widowers when they got married (in 1898). Samuel had nine children in his first marriage. Three of them died before 1900. Selma had one daughter from her first marriage. Together they had two more children, my grandmother and her younger brother. Samuel died in 1907.


Without going into every detail, here is a list of those family members who were "in the picture" during the years when the postcards were written. You will also find this list in the sidebar; and photos of some of them. 


Emma, b. 1866 - Married older sister
Carl, b. 1870 - Oldest stay-home brother
Oscar, b. 1872 - 2nd older brother, married
Ester, born 1876 - Unmarried older sister

Gustaf, b. 1878 - Postcard Collector
Gerda, b. 1881  - Travelling Sister

Samuel (1835-1907) - Father
Selma (1861-1941) - Samuel's 2nd wife (from 1898)

Hildur, b. 1892 - Selma's daughter from her first marriage, stepsister to the older, halfsister to the younger siblings
Sally, b. 1900 - baby sister (= my paternal grandmother)
Nils, b. 1902 - baby brother

Most of my blog entries will be bilingual. Posts written primarily in Swedish will have an English translation or summary at the bottom. Posts written in English will have a Swedish summary. This depends on what inspired the post, and what sources I used in the research.

From November 2012, the English text will be blue

The postcards from Gustaf's album are numbered by page: G.001-1, G.001-2, G.001-3, G.002-1 etc. (3 cards/page)


The cards from Gerda's album (which contains mainly Christmas and birthday cards) are numbered by page with 2 cards/page: R.001-01, R.001-02, R.002-01 etc.


In the sidebar, under the heading CATEGORIES, you can choose (if you wish) to view only the Postcards posts, or only the Family Photos posts. 


- - -


When I started going through the old postcard collection, it puzzled me at first that there were cards from so many places, and yet when I read the messages and examined postmarks, it became more and more clear that most of the early cards (before Gustaf and Gerda emigrated to America in late 1902 or early 1903) were sent locally between Fristad (where my great-grandparents' farm was) and the area of Falköping (where the two oldest siblings, Emma and Oscar, lived).

My conclusion is that they must have bought whole packs of postcards with views from all over Sweden (and perhaps even abroad). This theory becomes even more plausible when considering that Emma's husband owned a countryside store; and around this time they also branched out and started a second store in another village, run by Oscar (brother to Emma, and to the two emigrants-to-be).

See the post
Behind the Counter. During 1901-02 before they emigrated, Gerda seems to have stayed with Emma's family most of the time, while Gustaf alternated between the father's farm and Oscar's place. If postcards were sold in the family store(s) (as no doubt they were), that explains easy access to a variety of cards for all of them, without actually travelling very far.

Page updated 14 April 2013 by Monica T.