Olof Olsson family papers
Scope and Contents
The Olof Olsson family papers, 1861-1943, 1993 and undated, contains papers related to the personal and professional lives of Olof Olsson and the members of his immediate family: Anna Lisa, Anna, Maria, Lydia, and Hannes. Materials include correspondence, diaries, programs, clippings, personal belongings, photographs, autograph albums, scrapbooks, postcard albums, business records, and other papers. The collection has been arranged into seven series: Olof Olsson (1861-1925, 1993 and undated), Anna Lisa Olsson (undated), Anna Olsson (1869-1941 and undated), Maria Olsson (1875-1926 and undated), Lydia Olsson (1889-1937 and undated), Johannes Samuel "Hannes" Olsson (1898-1941 and undated), and Family (1866-1943 and undated).
- 1861-1943, 1993 and undated
- Olsson family (Family)
Language of Materials
Swedish and English
Conditions Governing Access
There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.
Conditions Governing Use
Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College Special Collections and the copyright holder.
The materials in this collection primarily focus on the six members of the immediate Olsson family: Olof Olsson, his wife, Anna Lisa Olsson, and their four children, Anna, Maria, Lydia, and Hannes.
OLOF OLSSON Olof Olsson was born in Sweden in 1841. He was trained for the ministry and was ordained as a parish pastor in Värmland, Sweden. On 22 December 1864 he married Anna Lisa Jonsson. Olof and Anna Lisa emigrated from Sweden to the United States in 1869, accompanied by Olof's parents, Olof and Britta, his brother, Carl, and 250 others. The Olsson family settled in Lindsborg, Kansas, where Olof founded the Bethany Evangelical Church on 19 August 1869. He also served McPherson County as State Legislator for two terms while serving as a pastor and missionary.
In 1876, Olof was offered a professorship at Augustana College and Theological Seminary, Rock Island, Illinois. At first he declined because of his attachment to his community in Kansas, but one year later, he accepted the position. In 1879, he and his family toured Europe for five months. Anna Lisa Olsson passed away 18 March 1887. Following his wife's death, Olof resigned from his position at Augustana.. In 1889, he and his four children again traveled to Europe, where they lived for one year. On 17 June 1891, after his return to the United States, Olof was unanimously elected to the Augustana College presidency.
Olof achieved the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1892, and in 1893 the University of Uppsala, Sweden, made him an honorary Doctor of Philosophy. At this time, he wrote extensively in German, Swedish, and English. His works were published in the United States and abroad, and often translated into other languages.
Olof died 12 May 1900, and his funeral was held on May 16. He was buried in the family plot in Riverside Cemetery, Moline, Illinois.
ANNA LISA OLSSON Very little is known about Anna Lisa Olsson. Born the daughter of a coal miner, Anna Lisa Jonsson married Olof Olsson 22 December 1864. Anna Lisa passed away 18 March 1887.
ANNA OLSSON Anna Olsson was born 19 August 1866 in Värmland, Sweden. She was the first daughter of Olof and Anna Lisa Olsson. She emigrated with her parents and extended family to Lindsborg, Kansas, in 1869, and relocated with them to Rock Island in 1876. From 1882 to 1883, Anna attended Bethany Academy in Lindsborg, Kansas, but returned to Rock Island later in 1883 to study at Augustana College. She studied German language and literature. 1887 was difficult for Anna due to her mother's death, after which Anna became the "mother" of the family. In 1888 Anna became the second woman to graduate from Augustana College. From 1888 to 1889, Anna taught in the Children's Department at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.
From 1889 to 1890, Anna and her family toured Europe. While there, Anna spent several months at a German school. She also attended literature and philosophy lectures at the University of Zurich. Then in 1891, Olof Olsson was unanimously elected President of Augustana College, and the family moved back to Rock Island once again. In 1895, Anna became the principal of Ladies' Hall at Augustana College. From 1896 to 1898, Anna resumed her studies at Augustana, focusing on Italian, French, and literature. Anna quit her position at Ladies' Hall in 1900 to care for her family following her father's death.
In 1917 Anna Olsson had her book, "I'm Scairt," published by the Augustana Book Concern. The book was an autobiography of her life written from a child's perspective. It gives a detailed description of the family's move to the United States from Sweden and her school days at Augustana. Anna remained in the same residence in Rock Island, Illinois, working as a writer until she died at the age of 79 on 15 February 1946. She is buried in the family plot in Riverside Cemetery, Moline.
MARIA OLSSON Maria Olsson, affectionately known as Mia, was born 15 September 1869 in Lindsborg, Kansas. Mia spent her childhood on the family farm in Lindsborg, relocating with the family to Rock Island in 1876. After her mother passed away in 1887, the family took a long trip to Europe. On this trip, Maria and her sister, Lydia, took lessons in "fancy work." It seems this is when her success in dressmaking began.
After returning to the U.S., specifically Woodhull, Illinois, in late June of 1890, Mia and Anna became the housekeepers of their home. In 1895, Mia started attending Augustana Conservatory of Music, studying piano. In 1896, Mia enrolled in Elocution and Physical Culture.
In 1904 or 1905, Maria patented the "Combination Collar Fastener." The fastener was used to secure collars or belts. It took the place of whalebones and hooks and eyes, and predated the first patent on the zipper. This would become a career for Maria Olsson.
Maria died 3 May 1934, and was buried in the family plot at the Riverside Cemetery in Moline.
LYDIA OLSSON Lydia Olsson was the third daughter born to Olof and Anna Lisa Olsson on 14 April 1874, in Lindsborg, Kansas. Like her sister Maria, she grew up on the family farm in Lindsborg. Later in life Lydia traveled with her father and siblings to Europe in 1889. She stayed in Zurich, Switzerland, with Maria and Johannes while Anna and Olof went to visit Italy.
After returning to the U.S., Lydia enrolled in Phonography and Typewriting, Chorus, and Voice at Augustana College from 1892 and 1895. During the 1894 school year, Lydia was appointed Library Attendant, then Assistant Librarian. Lydia became Librarian of the Augustana College Library in 1897, while registered as an art student.
From 1901 to 1902 and 1905 to 1912, her occupation was recorded as bookkeeper. Then, in 1915, it was changed to Assistant Librarian of the Augustana College Library. After that, Lydia was a clerk in the Tractor Department of the Moline Tractor Company. Again in 1922, she served as Library Assistant in the Denkmann Memorial Library. She kept this position until 1945.
Lydia passed away 1 March 1958, and is buried in the family plot in Riverside Cemetery, Moline.
JOHANNES SAMUEL OLSSON Johannes Samuel Olsson was born either in Moline or Rock Island on 4 July 1877. He was the only son of Olof and Anna Lisa Olsson. Johannes, affectionately "Hannes," spent his twelfth birthday in Germany on his family's tour of Europe in 1889-1890. Anna was Hannes' teacher at the time. He seemed to have an interest in carpentry.
After returning to the United States, the family spent time in Chicago and Rock Island. They then moved to Woodhull, Illinois, and lived there for ten months. Here, Hannes learned to play the violin and attended school.
Hannes was very close to his sister Anna. An entry from her day journal expressed that she wished for Hannes to attend college, and so he did. Hannes enrolled at Augustana College in 1897. In 1900, Hannes enrolled in the Conservatory of Music, and from 1900 to 1901, he attended the Business College at Augustana.
Following his time spent at Augustana, Hannes was hired as a clerk for Hartz and Company, a wholesale and retail drug business. In 1929, Hannes became a music teacher, then a band leader in 1931. After that he was once again a music teacher, then a musician, and then a music teacher again in 1936. After Lydia's death in 1958, Hannes was the sole surviving child of Olof Olsson.
Johannes Samuel Olsson passed away 23 September 1967. He is buried in the family plot in Riverside Cemetery, Moline
8.9 Cubic Feet (/ 26 boxes)
The Olof Olsson Family Papers documents the personal and private life of the third President of Augustana College, Olof Olsson, and his family. Olof Olsson was born in Sweden in 1841. He and his wife, Anna Lisa Olsson, emigrated from Sweden to the United States in 1869. In 1876 Olof Olsson was offered a professorship at Augustana College and Theological Seminary, Rock Island, Illinois. In 1891, Olsson was unanimously elected to the Augustana College presidency, a position he held until his death in 1900. Olsson's children, Anna, Maria, and Lydia, and Hannes, each attended Augustana College as students. The Olof Olsson family papers, 1861-1943, 1993 and undated, contains papers related to the personal and professional lives of Olof Olsson and the members of his immediate family: Anna Lisa, Anna, Maria, Lydia, and Hannes. Materials include correspondence, diaries, programs, clippings, personal belongings, photographs, autograph albums, scrapbooks, postcard albums, business records, and other papers.
Original order has been maintained when possible.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Material related to Maria, Lydia, Anna and Hannes Olsson received in from Brynolf and Gertrude Lundholm in 1982 and 1997. Books received from Frances and Ethel Becker via Katherine Milton in 1970. Immediate source of acquisition for the Olof Olsson papers unknown.
Processed by Elena Leith, September 2016
- Account books
- Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.) -- Administration
- Augustana College (Rock Island, Ill.) -- History
- Augustana College and Theological Seminary (Rock Island, Ill.) -- Faculty
- Augustana College and Theological Seminary (Rock Island, Ill.) -- Students
- Autograph albums
- Diaries -- Women authors
- Europe -- Description and travel
- Families -- Illinois -- Rock Island County
- Funeral sermons -- Illinois
- Inventors -- United States
- Moline (Ill.) -- History
- Music -- Instruction and study
- Olsson, Anna Lisa
- Olsson, Anna, 1866-1946
- Olsson, Johannes Samuel "Hannes", 1877-1967
- Olsson, Lydia, 1874-1958
- Olsson, Maria, 1869-1934
- Olsson, Olof, 1841-1900
- Sweden -- Emigration and immigration
- Swedish American Lutherans
- Swedish Americans
- Universities and colleges -- Illinois
- Universities and colleges -- United States -- Religion
- Women -- Diaries
- Women college students -- Illinois
- Olof Olsson family papers, 1861-1943, 1993 and undated.
- Elena Leith
- September 2016
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository
639 38th Street
Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States