Etikettarkiv: Cecilia Koch

Cecilia’s Album: A Mother’s Loving Heart

Cecilia was only 18 years old when she died from measles. Two years earlier, she had lived and studied in Stockholm. Like so many girls her age, she owned a memory album, filled with greetings from her family and friends. When she left Stockholm in the summer of 1844, to return home to Vågsäter, many of her friends wrote poems or made drawings for her to put in her album.

In Cecilia’s memory album, there are 30 loose-leaf pages with greetings – some are signed by first and last name, others by first name only, a few are signed by initials, and finally, some are not signed at all.

Memory Page #7917

The first poem I will share is one that is not signed.

Fast lifvet jag ej gaf åt dig
Du likväl finna skall hos mig
Så väl i glädje som i smärta
En Moders kärleksfulla hjerta.

Translating poetry is difficult. However, the essence of the poem is as follows:

Although I did not bring you to this world
I still want you to know
That in joy, as well as in pain
You will find a Mother’s loving heart

Cecilia would of course know who wrote the poem so there would be no reason for the card to be signed.

Cecilia’s Stepmother

When Cecilia was 2 years old, her mother died in childbirth. Three years later, Cecilia’s father re-married 24-year-old Emma Wilhelmina Iggeström. Cecilia was thus raised by a stepmother “with a mother’s loving heart”.

Cecilia’s stepmother, Emma Wilhelmina Iggeström. Drawing by Maria Röhl, 1839.

In addition to not being signed, the card is also not dated. One can always speculate that Cecilia received the beautiful memory album from her stepmother and that this was her first memory card.


Cecilia Koch was born on February 14, 1828, to Michael Koch (1792-1869) and his first wife, Johanna Amalia Fröding (1801-1830). Cecilia’s mother died in childbirth in 1830, leaving her husband with 2-year-old Cecilia, a 1-year-old son, and a newborn baby. As was common practice, Cecilia’s father remarried. He and his second wife, Emma Wilhelmina Iggeström (1809-1891), had 4 daughters and a son. The children Koch (those who survived to adulthood) had interesting lives and married well.

Cecilia Koch’s Album

Cecilia Koch was one of Augusta’s dearest friends during her time in Stockholm. She was most likely Augusta’s classmate in Edgren’s school and they were also in the same confirmation class. After I wrote about Cecilia last fall, I received an exciting email from her brother’s great-grandson who had stumbled upon my blog entry. He had a treasure that had belonged to Cecilia that he was willing to share.

I love when I get comments or emails from relatives of those I write about. But this email also opened the door to a whole new area of research.

In Cecilia’s family archive, there is a small, red, velvet-clad, cardboard box. The lid is decorated with gilded leaf scrolls and the text “ALBUM”. The box, which has belonged to Cecilia, contains loose leaves with poems and artwork, all signed in one way or another.

Cecilia Koch’s Album (minnesalbum, minnesbok)

I was now given access to pictures of these pages and to my excitement, as I scrolled through the images, I recognized one name after the other. The pages contained greetings from Cecilia’s family members and friends and many of those were also Augusta’s friends.

Did all girls have these types of boxes or albums in the 1840s? Could these records be used to discover constellations of friends?

Last year, I wrote about Augusta’s confirmation friends. This spring, I will write about the girls who provided poems and drawing for Cecilia’s album. I have identified 15 so far. For the rest, I only have clues.

Memory Books, Poetry Books, Autograph Albums…

There are many names for these types of books or albums. And there are numerous scholarly articles and books written about them. One book that really stands out is Lev lycklig, glöm ej mig! Minnesböckernas historia (Live Happily, Forget me Not! History of the Memory Books ) by Carola Ekrem. The title implies the purpose of these albums: wishing the friend a happy life and making sure you are not forgotten.

The Swedish folklorist Bengt af Klintberg has studied Swedish memory albums and found that those written between 1810 – 1850 mostly belonged to girls in the upper social classes. These girls either studied with a governess or attended private schools for girls. They learned foreign languages (French, German, and sometimes English) at an early age and could, therefore, write poetry in those languages. They also learned how to draw or paint in watercolors – which is evident in the memory albums. And sometimes they would include a lock of their hair in the albums.

During the latter half of the 1800s, memory albums became popular among girls in all social classes.

The Little Town on the Prairie

Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote The Little House on the Prairie series of books, actually described what was called an Autograph Album, in the book The Little Town on the Prairie:

In Laura’s package was a beautiful small book, too. It was thin, and wider than it was tall. On its red cover, embossed in gold, where the words:

Autograph Album

The pages, of different soft colors, were blank. Carrie had another exactly like it, except that the cover of hers was blue and gold.

“I found that autograph albums are all the fashion nowadays,” said Ma. “All the most fashionable girls in Vinton have them.”

“What are they, exactly?” Laura asked.

“You ask a friend to write a verse on one of the blank pages and sign her name to it,” Ma explained. “If she has an autograph album, you do the same for her, and you keep the albums to remember each other by.”


Ekrem, C. Lev lycklig, glöm ej mig. Minnesböckernas historia. Atlantis 2002.

9. Johanna Cecilia Mary Lovisa Koch – A Beloved Friend



10. Rosalie Emelie Augusta Söderholm – Our great-great-grandmother

Rosalie Emelie Augusta Söderholm, our great-great-grandmother whose writings were our inspiration for Augusta’s Journey, was ranked 10 out of the 92 girls who were confirmed in St Jacob’s parish in May of 1844.

If you have followed Augusta’s Journey, you probably already know Augusta. But if you are new to our project, here are a few lines about Augusta Söderholm.

Augusta was born in Slaka parish outside Linköping in 1827. She was the youngest child of Anna Catharina and Johan Petter Söderholm. When her father died in 1835, Augusta’s brother-in-law, Gustaf Lejdenfrost, took care of the family at his estate, Loddby, outside Norrköping.

Augusta Söderholm

In the fall of 1841, 14-year-old Augusta was sent to Stockholm to get a first-class education. She would learn French, German, and some English, and she would meet families in high society. Augusta moved in with the Edgren family who ran a private boarding school in St Klara’s parish in Stockholm.

In 1844, Augusta also had to study for her upcoming confirmation. She was living in St Klara’s parish but we know that she was confirmed in another parish in Stockholm – St Jacob’s parish. Why?

Augusta’s close friend, Cecilia Koch, had also come to Stockholm to study. Both were confirmed in St Jacob’s parish. Was it a joint decision? Did they choose St Jacob’s parish because it was led by Pastor Abraham Zacharias Pettersson, a well-liked and respected pastor? Or did their parents’ have a personal connection with Pastor Pettersson? Or did the families with the highest status in Stockholm live in St Jacob’s parish? What seemed to be unique for this parish was that the pastor listed the children according to their perceived status. So for girls like Augusta and Cecilia, who were sent to Stockholm as teenagers to get educated and making their debut in society, this was probably the parish with the “right” families.

Augusta continued to study in Stockholm for one more year, now in a school run by Miss Andriette Frigel. During this year, she boarded with the family of Baroness Jaquette Ribbing.

After having studied in Stockholm, Augusta returned to her country home at Loddby and kept in touch with her friends in Stockholm. In the summer of 1847, she and her mother made the memorable journey through Germany down to Prague which she chronicled in her diary. After their return, she continued to write in her diary about how lonely she was at Loddby.

But in January of 1849, she returned to Stockholm to spend the social season going to balls, theatres, and concerts. She was 22 years old and she wrote in her diary about her suitors and her exciting and carefree life.

Then in July, she was back home at her “calm, quiet home.” Her brother had contracted tuberculosis and by the end of the year, Augusta was bedridden and coughing. For the rest of her life, she struggled with the disease. But she found love, a man who appreciated her intellect and who didn’t mind debates. Adolf Leonard Nordvall was a doctor of philosophy who also wrote wonderful love letters. They married in 1853 and had a daughter (our great-grandmother) in 1854. Their happiness didn’t last long – Augusta died a year later at the age of 28.