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Up in the Rocky Mountains

Up in the Rocky Mountains: Writing the Swedish Immigrant Experience

Jennifer Eastman Attebery
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsdtn
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  • Book Info
    Up in the Rocky Mountains
    Book Description:

    Jennifer Eastman Attebery offers a new perspective on Swedish immigrants’s experiences in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico from 1880 to 1917 by interpreting their letters home. Recognizing the letters’s power as a folk form, Attebery provides a model for discerning immigrants’s shared culture in correspondence collections and brings to life small Swedish communities throughout the Rocky Mountain region._x000B_ _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5420-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. A Note on Translations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. PREFACE: Expanding Swedish America Westward
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  6. ONE Vernacular Writing: LETTER WRITING AS A FOLK PRACTICE
    (pp. 1-20)

    In their personal letters, writers like Clara Jeppsson wrote, as she describes above, as well as they could, but often with the urge to say as much as possible under hurried circumstances.¹ There is no wonder, then, that Jeppsson relied on what we can callvernacular writing.By using the modifiervernacularI do not mean the medieval emergence of vernacular-language literature such as Chaucer’sCanterbury Tales,or the use of dialect by a writer like Samuel Clemens inAdventures of Huckleberry Finn.Vernacular writing is produced in informal situations like Jeppsson’s—everyday and routine—and uses language that is...

  7. TWO “Thanks for the Letter”: THE SHAPE OF THE GENRE
    (pp. 21-44)

    Most of us recognize the shape of an informal letter, and use that form throughout our lives in letters from summer camp, love letters, and thank-you notes, and, now that Internet use is so common, in their e-mail equivalents. Recognition and use of the letter form is not instinctive or unconscious, though. The letter genre is learned through observation of letters we receive or have read to us and through trial efforts of our own. Our use of the form is both imitative and original. In the passage above, John A. Leonard opens a letter to his brother-in-law following a...

  8. THREE “Here Are Many Swedes”: NODES AND NETWORKS OF SWEDISH SETTLEMENT IN THE ROCKIES
    (pp. 45-66)

    The swedish experience in the West varied as much as the region itself. Passing through Utah on his way to the Idaho mines, Leonard Nilsson observed a distinctive religious group, the Mormons.¹ John A. Leonard encountered American Indians in New Mexico;² August Johansson wrote of seeing African Americans in Denver.³ Pet Stred noted the lack of social and religious institutions in Bay Horse, Idaho,4and John M. Swanson told of his enjoyment of Denver’s urban amenities.5These immigrants’ basis for judging their new surroundings included comparisons with the eastern United States and with Sweden. Typically, the Swedes coming into the...

  9. FOUR “I Work Every Day”: BECOMING AMERICAN WORKERS
    (pp. 67-86)

    Pet stred’s letter to a friend, written August 9, 1891, is typical of most of the letters from immigrant men in that Stred emphasizes his work.¹ Stred opens his letter with the usual thanks for a letter received and acknowledgment of news of his friend’s good health. The section quoted above immediately follows. Reassurance to his friend that he, too, is healthy prompts Stred to write, “I work . . . every day.”

    Work is the most universal topic in the letters. All but eight of the Rocky Mountain correspondents at least mention their or their relatives’ work.² As in...

  10. FIVE “I Am Sending Money”: OLD COUNTRY AND NEW
    (pp. 87-110)

    These are Leonard Nilsson’s words to Lovisa Borg, written when he decided he would have to delay his return to Sweden.¹ He had not yet been able to save enough money to set up his own business, and he insisted on reaching that personal goal. Nilsson had experienced cruel masters as a young laborer before traveling to America, and he vowed that he would never again place himself in the power of an abusive boss. Yet Leonard clearly loved Lovisa (whom he calls Lova) and missed her greatly. The endearments in this passage are typical of those found in letter...

  11. SIX “Out West”: IDENTIFYING WITH A NEW REGION
    (pp. 111-134)

    Writing from camp cody, New Mexico, in 1917, while he was training with the U.S. Army and anticipating engagement in the Great War in Europe, Hjalmar Johnsson figures his adaptation to New Mexico as a transformation into an American Indian.¹ He goes on to ask that he be forgiven for joking, but his jest communicates something more than humor. Hjalmar felt changed by the West, turned into something new that he characterizes as indigenous by citing the popular image of the American Indian: supposedly red skinned, living outdoors, and stoical in the extremes of Western climate.

    By claiming to have...

  12. SEVEN “God’s Good Gift”: RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN LETTERS
    (pp. 135-156)

    With these words, Peter Anderson addressed his aunt and uncle in an 1889 letter written from Cheyenne, Wyoming.¹ Anderson’s use of religious formulas stands out as unusual within the letter collections from the Rocky Mountain West. He is one among a minority of the correspondents who weave religious language into the letters or who include religious issues in the contents. About one-quarter of the letter writers devote attention to religion in some way, but only fourteen of those writers use the kind of formulaic language displayed in Anderson’s letter. For these writers, religion was very important, significant enough to be...

  13. EIGHT Identity, Genre, Meaning: WHAT WE LEARN FROM READING VERNACULAR LETTERS
    (pp. 157-172)

    Expressing how much he misses his family and the Swedish Christmas season, John Peterson wrote an unusually long, eight-page letter home in December 1910.¹ Peterson and his wife Jessie lived on a farm seven miles from McCall, Idaho, where she was a schoolteacher and he a blacksmith. They made the trip into town every day by horse, probably by horse-drawn sled during the snowy season. In his letter, Peterson explains he is just back home from a long trip to Colorado, where he helped one of his in-laws with a land transaction. He wanted to see the land for himself...

  14. APPENDIX: The Letter Writers and Twenty Letters
    (pp. 173-240)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 241-280)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 281-294)
  17. Index
    (pp. 295-304)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-305)