Welcome to Tessa's blog

Monday, February 23, 2015

Not a good Friday

There really isn't much to report from here. I spend every day at work to either work or do research. I got a research request from my mother's friend, so I'm busy with that too. It's the usual mix with early deaths among the children and ordinary farm life in a rural setting. There were a few emigrants also, they settled in the Boston area. I'm glad there are pretty good vital records for Massachusetts. Most of these emigrants were women and that's always a challenge to find them after they get married. I did locate them and their families.

I got a temporary book case in my new office now. We are supposed to get new furniture in April, but I couldn't wait that long. I asked the janitor to install my old book case, and he did. I have now unpacked all the office materials.

Last week was not a good one. Several people were absent and it was noticeable. Friday was especially bad. It was a day filled with mistakes, both mine and other's. I had promised a scholar that I would bring a box of books from a special collection to the reading room by 10 AM Friday. Naturally, I forgot it. I had to drive the storage round very early and made a colleague go with me, in order to retrieve those books. It was rather stressful. Later I found out that the scholar hadn't been there.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Research weekend

Last week it was work during the weekdays and research over the weekend - in the same place. I'm very privileged to have easy access to all those books and newspapers. This Saturday there were four other colleagues at work too, so I'm not the only one using the facilities for private reasons.

I have located a grandchild of one of Arndt's co-workers (his boss, actually). It was basically the last straw, since there is information lacking about Arndt's work, especially in the 1920s. She answered back and said that she has a lot of material about her grandfather's job, both letters and photos. I didn't think there would be, since her grandfather died rather early, in the 1940s. She would dig into it and I hope that Arndt will be mentioned in this material. It's very far-fetched, but you never know.

This last thing reminded me of the times when I started doing family history research 25 years ago. Back then you wrote a letter (by hand) to someone and it could take weeks or months before an answer came (if it did at all). Now I found this woman's e-mail address in less than 20 seconds and I got a reply the next morning. Correspondence is definitely easier and faster these days.

It's not much of a winter here in the south. It's just above freezing temperature, with occasional rain showers and high winds. Rather boring.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Song contest and emigrant museum

Last week was very hectic. At work I moved my office three floors up, and all my colleagues in the stacks did the same. Many people from the administration also moved to the same floor. We are now over 100 people in the same building and it is already noticeable that our kitchen is not large enough and that the only elevator to our floor is not going to cope with it. Not to mention the complaints we have about the design of our brand new offices. I can't believe that designers don't understand that we need book cases - it's a library! What do they think we do there?! All of us moved the furniture around and we were all scolded by the building department for it. Again, the designer had misunderstood everything. We don't want our desks turned towards a wall and we don't want to have our backs against the door opening. All these problems have meant that I (and many others) have been forced to change the way we work. I have to use another desk on another floor also, because most of the daily activities are concentrated to a lower level. I really hope things will improve, this is not a good working environment as it is now. The minimum requirement I have is a book case...

This weekend I made a short visit to Borås. My mother had entered my name in one of those consumer competitions where you could win tickets to go and see the local Eurovision song contest. I won two tickets and my mother went with me to Göteborg on Saturday evening. This song contest is well known in Europe. It was seven participants and they sang everything from rap- to opera-inspired songs. It was both established artists and newcomers. The event was televised live and it was interesting to see the cameramen work. The whole thing was quite fascinating. This was the first of five contests, the final will be in Stockholm in mid-March. The winner there will compete in the European final in Vienna later in May.

We also managed to do some minor shopping and visit my mother's friends over the weekend. This morning I took the bus to Göteborg. I visited the emigrant museum near the harbor. It has been there for about ten years, but this was my first visit. Website: http://emigranternashus.se/?page_id=191. Since I know quite a lot about European migration, it was moderately interesting to me personally. But I still spent over an hour there, looking at the displays of America trunks, images of ships, passengers and items they had brought on the journey. There were statistics, information about the reasons for leaving, the arrival in the new country and the societies and clubs formed by Swedes, along with stories of successful Swedes. A separate display was about Snusgatan (Snuff street or boulevard) which hinted at the Swedes' habit of using snuff (chewing tobacco). In Chicago it was a nickname for Chicago Avenue, but other cities had the same kind of name for the Swedish areas (Minneapolis and Winnipeg). Another display was about the Titanic. After visiting the museum, I went to lunch and then looked through some stores. Didn't get much, only a bracelet on sale. I took the train home in the afternoon. When I checked my mail, Arndt's nephew had sent the booklet just published about his father, Sten. It was written by a teacher at the same school where Sten taught Swedish and Latin. It was very interesting to read. Soon there will be books about all three siblings; Olga, Sten and Arndt. I'm sure none of them ever thought there would be.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Luck in research

It has been yet another busy week at work. My schedule is more strict than before. I attend the internal desk in the stacks every Tuesday, where I take care of the books that don't have bar codes, distribute the requested books to the different locations and answer incoming e-mails from patrons. That's a lot of work and I have to be there all day. Wednesdays I drive the storage round and Thursdays I have desk duty.

Friday we had a small party for yet another retiring colleague. She was my boss for many years and  will be missed. She told me she had started to do family history research, which is a typical activity for retirees here. I cheered her on, of course.

The newly found relative and I have been exchanging photos for a while now. I was pretty surprised to get two sketches made by Arndt from her. All this has raised more questions and we have both been doing more research. Her great grandmother had four brothers in America, which I found information about a few years ago, so I sent her that. This project is getting bigger and bigger, but it's really interesting.

This weekend I have been at work to do research. I have received cut-out articles from old newspapers about a shipwreck in 1907 (Arndt's brother-in-law was the captain). Arndt's nephew had found them and sent them to me. But it didn't say what newspaper it was or any kind of date. It must be a local newspaper from Halmstad and sometime between 1931 and 1949. I started with 1931 today. It takes an entire day to go through the microfilms for one year, so this will be a long term project if I ever finish it. I didn't find what I was looking for, but something much more interesting - Arndt had written several articles in this newspaper about his visits to Eastern Europe in the 1920s. I have so far found four. No one had any idea about this. It's remarkable that his articles would be in the newspaper for 1931. I was incredibly lucky.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hectic week

Over the weekend I contacted the woman who had posted a query about the same ancestor as I was searching for information about. She was pretty surprised to hear from me. We have now spent several days exchanging old family photos via e-mail. I had a photo of her great great grandfather that she had never seen. She was thrilled to get it. I was also happy about many of the photos she sent to me. One especially of Arndt and Valborg with her brother, who had emigrated to California and was on a visit to Sweden in 1954. Also photos taken at Arndt and Valborg's wedding party in 1914. We have also, with some effort from both of us, been able to put names on some of the previously unknown people on a few photos. I'm glad I contacted her, she seems to be the one on her side of the family who takes an interest in genealogy.

At work it has been very hectic. It's the first week of the semester and the students are desperate in their hunt for literature. We have been struggling with the workload and have just barely made the deadline the first days of the week. I have been to the storage for the first time since August to retrieve books. I did remember the pin code for the door and the books were placed in the same order as last time. Today was a long day. It started with two meetings from 8.30 until noon, and then I had desk duty. I was rather tired when I got home.

This week I had to go to the dentist in Lund and that was very unpleasant. Very expensive also. One filling had cracked and there turned out to be more problems. My teeth are placed very closely together and the dentist had to use quite a lot of force to get the job done. I normally go to another dentist, but I didn't want to travel all the way to Kristianstad. The new dentist didn't know me and asked several times if I was ok, which I was, despite the abuse. Perhaps you don't want to know the details here, but there was lots of blood and there was no painrelief given (I was offered, but declined). I can say that I have endured worse than this though.

This past weekend I finally removed all the Christmas decorations in my apartment. I have bought some new items on the after-Christmas sales, so it wasn't possible to fit all of it into the boxes. I had to weed some out.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grandfather's funeral

I worked until noon last Thursday and then walked to the train station. When I got there it was announced that all northbound trains had been cancelled due to an accident. There is always a lot of misinformation in these cases (28 years of daily commuting tells me this). So I stayed and waited without doing anything. After about 30 minutes they had decided to turn a southbound train, so my train was suddenly changed from cancelled to delayed. We finally arrived in Stockholm one hour and forty minutes late. It didn't really matter to me, but I feel sorry for the foreign tourists who were on their way to the far north. Not only was the most important information given in Swedish, it was also incorrect...!

Like every time I stayed with my mother's cousin. Friday morning I went out to take photos of the buildings where my great grandfather Arndt had lived and worked. At noon I had changed my clothes and went by commuter train to a small town west of Stockholm. On the same train I met two of my father's cousins and we talked a lot about family history. My father picked us up at the station and drove to the church. My aunts and cousins were there, along with father's cousin from Denmark and also grandfather's girlfriend and her family. Grandfather's funeral was an event celebrating his long life, with appropriate hymns hinting at his ancestral origin in Dalarna and his connection to Jämtland province (where he had a vacation cottage). Afterwards there was a meal at a conference center. There were a few stories told, mainly about grandfather's special traits and habits.

I spent most of the Saturday doing research at the Royal Library, but also managed to do some bargain shopping at a mall. We had a tasty pizza in the evening. Sunday I visited my other relatives two subway stations away. It's Arndt's nephew and his wife. We had a good time talking about the old days, I think we covered the last 100 years or so. We all have a huge interest in history and a desire to learn new things. Monday morning I helped my mother's relatives do the laundry. It was pretty bad weather, snowy and icy, so I stayed until it was time to go to the train. I returned home, without delays believe it or not, in the evening. It rained in Skåne.

I started working Tuesday and it was not that pleasant. There were lots of books to retrieve and sort to the different locations. I'm not used to such hard work, I haven't done anything like this for several months. Today I also had the first desk duty in three years. I will sit in the manuscript reading room every Thursday afternoon from now on. In all honesty, it was a little boring today because there was only one visitor.

Last week one of my colleagues died of a heart attack, aged 60. He was my boss during the entire book moving project so I knew him rather well. This morning we had a gathering to talk about this, and many of the retired librarians also showed up to pay their respects. We are all very sad, he was a great colleague and a very nice guy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

First workday of the year

The New Year's celebration was rather quiet at my place. I watched TV and had boiled eggs and shrimp salad for dinner. I had a very good view of the fireworks from my balcony. Most of the free days I have spent in front of the computer doing research. I have also tried to identify the people on the old photos I received this fall. It required some research also in the families of the in-laws.

When it comes to genealogy, sometimes (but not often) the case solves itself. Just a few days ago I saw on the Swedish Roots website that someone else is also researching the same family (Arndt's wife's ancestors). This woman had the same problem I had, locating the parents of a soldier, born 1792. She posted a query about this and she got help from other researchers who were able to find his parents and birthplace. I was very impressed, because it was extremely difficult. I was also very happy because it meant that I got one more generation on the ancestor chart without much effort. And I will contact the woman who posted the query, since we are related.

The library has been closed for many days during the holiday, and it still is. It's the sprinkler system again. They have been working on the pipes and testing it over Christmas, but they are not finished with it. When I arrived at work this morning everything was covered in grey plastic sheets. My office looked like a moon landscape. All the book cases were also covered in about half the stacks. There were lots of book requests, because the students thought that we would open today. It was hastily decided that visitors were not allowed this week. By 9 A.M. only two staff members had shown up in the stacks. Two more arrived later, but the rest (four people) never made it. They had heard of the closure and took vacation. It was slightly complicated to perform the duties. They had taped the plastic, so it was tricky to get to the printers and computers. We didn't even try retrieving books in the closed off areas. One colleague was very ambitious and went to the storage to shelve books. I took care of the massive amounts of returned books that had been handed in through the drop box.

Tomorrow I will make another trip to Stockholm. My grandfather's funeral will take place on Friday.