This website is dedicated to the Swedish emigrant Anders Pettersson, who emigrated to America from Sweden in 1850, and changed his name to Andrew Peterson. He was a successful pioneer who in many ways made a significant contribution to the documentation of the Swedish immigrants life in America. The most important part of his legacy is the diary he kept throughout his lifetime in America. The massive emigration from Sweden to America, from the middle to the end of the nineteenth century, had a great impact on Swedish history. Yet this surge of emigrants has long been overlooked both in research and in literature.
One of the most important and well-known Swedish writers of the twentieth century, Vilhelm Moberg, realized this and started a comprehensive research project, Andrew Petersons diaries was his most important source, that resulted in a four volume emigrant novels.
The following text by Vilhelm Moberg about Peterson’s diaries was published in April 1966 in The Swedish Pioneer:
” In the work of Andrew Peterson I had discovered what I was looking for in America. For several months I was sitting in the library of St. Paul to read about this Swedish farmer, to know what he had done, to know what he thought of life in this world. I read about his wife, his nine children, his cattle and his crops, his churchlife. When I finished to read the diary I had all the information I could use about a farmer’s life in the first Swedish settlements in Minnesota”
Mobergs Emigrant Novels were published between 1949 and 1959 and were subsequently voted best Swedish novel of the century. Two critically acclaimed films were made from the books in the seventies, with the actor Max von Sydow as the main male character of Karl Oskar and Liv Ullman as the main female charachter Kristina. The novels and the films show great similarities with the fictional life compared with Andrew Petersons diaries. In 1990 Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the men behind the legendary pop group ABBA, also wrote a successful musical based on the novels, which again drew attention to the impact of Moberg’s emigrant novels. Andrew Peterson’s diaries, notes, certificates and letters were the absolute most important source of information for Moberg when writing his emigrant novels, which you can read more about under the headline on this webpage: Vilhelm Moberg and the diaries.
In 2003 the Andrew Peterson Society was formed in Andrew’s native Swedish Home County in order to promote interest in Andrew Peterson’s life and work. Prior to this time and during our first year of operation we received valuable assistance from our friends in America.
We would like at this time to acknowledge and express our gratitude to the following people and institution for their generous contributions to our work in the Andrew Peterson society;
Professor Roger McKnight, author of The Doctors Thesis ”Moberg’s Emigrant Novels and the Journals of Andrew Peterson”. Professor McKnights Doctors Thesis were of great assistance in our initial research; Professor Mc Knights Thesis together withThe Andrew Peterson research, about how much the diaries influenced Vilhelm Moberg when Moberg wrote his Emigration Novels, will be published in a book in time for the 200 year anniversary of Andrew Petersons birthday, (Oktober 20 1818).
Josephine Mihelich, author of the book ”Andrew Peterson and the Scandia Story” assisted us with making the connection between Andrew Peterson’s Swedish and American homes; and last but not least the staff at the Minnesota Historical Library, where Andrew Peterson’s original diaries are kept, were kind enough to send us the microfilms of Andrew Peterson’s diaries, his bookkeeping and his correspondence.
If you want to read about Vilhelm Moberg and the diaries click on the headline link Vilhelm Moberg and the diaries
If you want to know what is going on right now on Andrew and Elsa’s old farmstead click below.
If you want to se old photos and listen to 3 short parts from Jan Hermelins CD record: ”Andrew and Elsa Peterson: the true pioneers” click below. The photos from Minnesota are property of Carver County Historical Society. The photos from Sweden are property of Östergötlands museum and property of Åke Bruhn.