Swedish Costume

In Attire

In 1924, Ruth Dahlquist came to the United States from Sweden. Employed as a laundress in Borlange, Sweden, she saved enough so she didn’t travel in steerage as many other immigrants did. She brought two traditional Swedish costumes with her. She traveled to Chicago which had a large Swedish population and Swedish churches she could join. A man on the boat had promised to introduce her to his brother-in-law, Otto Johnson. They were married in 1925 and she may have worn the formal traditional Swedish outfit she brought with her from home. According to family lore, they built their first home out of abandoned railroad materials and before the roof was finished, Ruth birthed my maternal grandfather Bert and his twin brother, Paul, in 1927. Her two traditional outfits were passed on to Paul’s wife, my great Aunt Rody, who wore them for church functions including the Swedish St. Lucia celebration. My mother’s family continued to celebrate Swedish holidays, eat Swedish foods, and adore their Swedish heritage. This bodice and shirt are traditional for Leksand, Sweden and a family heirloom. I recently ‘rediscovered’ these treasures when I got in contact with my mother’s extended family because I want to make traditional children's costumes for my neices. While I may never perfectly re-create traditional Swedish costumes, the journey to understanding Swedish costume has brought me closer to my family and heritage.

Year: 1924

– Melissa Houston

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more