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I Go To America

I Go To America

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Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson

Author Joy K. Lintelman

Minnesota Historical Society Press (January 15, 2012)

An intimate and detailed portrait of young Swedish women who chose to immigrate to America in the nineteenth century--why they left, what they found, and how they survived.


Winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Nonfiction

Near the end of her life, Mina Anderson penned a lively memoir that helped Swedish novelist Vilhelm Moberg create "Kristina," the central female character of his beloved emigrant novels, a woman who constantly yearns for her homeland. But Mina's story was quite different.

Showcasing her previously untranslated memoir, I Go To America traces Mina's trip across the Atlantic to Wisconsin and then the Twin Cities, where she worked as a domestic servant, and her move to rural Mille Lacs County, where she and her husband worked a farm, raised seven children, and contributed to rural Swedish community life.

Mina herself writes about how grateful she was for the opportunity to be in America, where the pay was better, class differences were unconfining, and children—girls included—had the chance for a good education. In her own words, "I have never regretted that I left Sweden. I have had it better here."

Author Joy Lintelman greatly expands upon Mina's memoir, detailing the social, cultural, and economic realities experienced by countless Swedish women of her station. Lintelman offers readers both an intimate portrait of Mina Anderson and a window into the lives of the nearly 250,000 young, single Swedish women who immigrated to America from 1881 to 1920 and whose courage, hard work, and pragmatism embody the American dream.

Author information

Joy K. Lintelman is a professor of history at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Her specialties include immigration history and women’s history.

Reviews and news

Advance Praise:

“The immigrant experience is still our great American epic. Its hero has a million faces, and this one is female and Swedish. I Go to America is a part of this collective history at its best, told in an immigrant’s own words, accompanied by a thoughtful and carefully researched text, then laced with photographs that offer fascinating visual images of how immigrant women became Americans. Joy Lintelman has given us access to a gripping account of how Swedish women made their epic journey to America and how they fared once they arrived.”
Joan Jensen, Professor Emerita of Women’s History, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces

“Joy Lintelman is the authority on the lives of Swedish-American women. In I Go to America, she allows her female characters to tell their stories of everyday life in their own words, by nature personal, experiential, and emotive. Beautifully conceived and illustrated, this fine contribution to ethnic, women’s, and Minnesota history will appeal to a wide range of readers.”
Philip J. Anderson, president of the Swedish-American Historical Society, Chicago, and Professor of Church History at North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago

Winner of the 2010 Minnesota Book Award for General Nonfiction

Winner of a 2010 American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) Award of Merit by the Leadership in History Awards committee.

Reading Group Guide prepared by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 288 pages
  • 45 b&w photos and illustrations, 5 maps
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873518352

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