I went to a genealogy talk today at work where a colleague of mine found some pretty remarkable things about her family without the use of Ancestry or some other genealogy website. Her last name was particularly unique, allowing her to significantly whittle down the haystack we all begin with when we start a genealogy project. I found myself leaving the talk with a little twinge of jealousy.
Because then there’s Christine Olson.
You can’t just find an Olson in historical records. Even with a birthday, immigration date, and full name, I can’t find her. Or her husband, really. There are SO MANY Olsons in Minnesota that she is crowded out (or maybe the records just aren’t there). Not to mention her penchant for changing the spelling of her name. Is it Kristine? Christine? Bergita??? Beyond the aforementioned basics from Ancestry, I can’t find component data to isolate her in any search. She is a mystery in many respects to me.
As you read about in my Immigration post, I was able to get her husband’s immigration documentation, allowing me to find his boat and immigration date. But because of the PATRIARCHY, her naturalization was looped in with her husband’s and so I don’t know her ship name. Another dead-end. -__-
Anyway, I’ve decided to take a different tack and start digging into the lives of Swedish American women in Minnesota at large. I think if I can understand the general zeitgeist of her time and ethnic group, I might be able to draw some conclusions about her.
I’m reading I Go to America: Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson by Joy K. Lintelman. Though Mina’s story is a little earlier than Christine’s, they both immigrated as single women, meeting their husbands in America, and so much of the general context provided by Lintelman will apply.
I’m especially excited for this book because I’m hopeful it will shed light on why Christine immigrated and what her life was like before she married David.