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


Sepia Saturday: Painting A Bright Future

R.003.1, R.003.2

So this week we are celebrating those who paint with oils or pastels and those who paint with light.”

This week’s inspirational photo from Sepia Saturday shows photographers and artists portraying cherry blossom trees in Washington. I can’t recall any photos of photographers in action in my old family albums - only the results! So I decided to go with the spring theme instead, and bring in some colour; in the form of two greeting cards sent to my great-aunt Gerda shortly after her emigration to North America. A New Year card posted from Sweden in January 1903, and an Easter card stamped 7 April 1903. (Easter Sunday 1903 was 12th April.)

R.003.1 – Happy New Year! (Godt Nytt År)

No. 7502


Miss Gerda Ekman
6019 Morgan St.
Chicago Ills.

Happy New Year, from Elin and Oscar
[Oscar was one of Gerda’s brothers, and Elin his wife]
[Upside down:] Did you receive the letter?


R.003.2 – Happy Easter (Glad Påsk)



Miss Gerda Ekman
in care of Mrs. Deutsche
35 Elaines St.
/Chicago Ills./

Happy Easter! – best wishes from Elin. How soon can we expect a photograph of you “as American”? I’m waiting with great anticipation! Thanks for the greetings sent with the letter to Oscar. Helena asked me again to send you her best wishes. Please write again soon. / I suppose you have summer in America now? I imagine it must be, or else we would not dare go there by velociped, as you see.

The Easter card was first stamped on board a train (7.4.1903), and then again on board the ferry Trelleborg-Sassnitz (8.4.03). The street address is scored out with a different colour, indicating that Gerda had moved on again before it arrived. (She stayed in Chicago though, at least through 1910. In June 1913 I know she was back in Sweden. She might have gone back earlier; but I’m not sure.)

“Den ljusnande framtid är vår”

Veckans inspirationsbild från Sepia Saturday föreställer både fotografer och konstnärer i färd med att avbilda våren i Washington (för ca hundra år sedan) med körsbärsträd i blom.

Jag kan inte påminna mig några foton av andra fotografer i de gamla familjealbumen, så istället går jag på temat “vår” och scannar ett par kort från Gerdas samling av gratulations-kort från första decenniet av 1900-talet.

Dessa två är de första adresserade till henne i Chicago, vintern/våren 1903:

Godt Nytt År! tillönskas dig af Elin o Oscar.
PS. Har du fått brefvet?

Glad Påsk! tillönskas dig hjärtligt från Elin! Hur snart får vi något fotografi från dig “såsom americanare”? Jag väntar storligen! Tack för hälsningarna med Oscars bref. Helena bad mig åter hälsa dig så innerligt. Skrif snart igen. / Nu har ni väl sommar i America? Tänker mig så eljest vågade vi inte begifva oss iväg dit på velociped, som du ser.

Påsk-kortet är poststämplat först ombord på tåg 7.4.1903 men även ombord på färjan Trelleborg Sassnitz 8.4.03. Gatuadressen i Chicago har strukits över med penna i annan färg vilket tyder på att Gerda flyttat därifrån innan kortet nådde dit. (Men fick det ju uppenbarligen i alla fall!) Det framgår av övriga vykort adresserade till henne att hon vistades i Chicago minst hela 1910. (Från 1911 och 1912 finns inga kort i vykortsalbumet. Det sista kortet i albumet är från 1913 och adresserat till henne på Brunnshotellet i Ronneby i Sverige.)


  1. A pity the stamps have been steamed off, just like in many of my old family postcards, but a very fitting post for this week's spring theme. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. What exciting times these must have been for those early emigrants and their families back home. It is really fascinating to see this slice of real history.

  3. I especially like the Easter card. It is interesting to read the messages too.

  4. I love these old style greetings cards. What a shame we don't use postcards that way any more - hiding our thoughts from theb outside world by using enevelopes. And also sad that such innocent happy styles are a thing of the past. I must be maudlin today!

  5. I wonder how Elin expected her "American" relatives to look. The colors on old postcards are just exquisite. I'd love to have that Easter image as a figurine.

  6. Two beautiful cards. I wish they made them like that these days.

  7. What a timely post, these cards are lovely.

  8. Rather lovely cards with an interesting message.

  9. The postcard must have seemed like such a marvel of civilization in 1903. For a penny or two, you could send nag someone half way around the world, "Did you get my letter? Why don't you ever write?" Just like email today, only faster! :-)

  10. Truly a great piece of family history and timely too as it is almost Easter.