Etikettarkiv: Eva

Would the maid have used #MeToo?

William Hogarth (English, 1697 - 1764) Before, 1730 - 1731, Oil on canvas 40 × 33.7 cm (15 3/4 × 13 1/4 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
William Hogarth (English, 1697 – 1764) Before, 1730 – 1731, Oil on canvas 40 × 33.7 cm (15 3/4 × 13 1/4 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

On October 16 this year, my Facebook feed started to fill up with #MeToo – friends acknowledging that they had at some time been sexually harassed or assaulted. A simple hashtag and suddenly the whole world was talking about how men mistreat women.

It made me think of Augusta and her time period. I can’t imagine that she and her friends, who all belonged to a privileged class, would have been harassed. The men in her social sphere were chivalrous and a few made their feelings known by proposing marriage. The closest to harassment that she experienced was not physical in nature: some men let her know that they were displeased with her voicing her opinion.

But of course sexual harassment and assault existed, just as today, where men had power over women – for example, being the employer. And often, if the harassment became known, the woman was blamed.


I just thought of the maid at Loddby. Was she really as evil as Augusta had described? And who was she?

I had to drop what I was doing in order to find out who this girl was. But first some background from the diary. Why did I think of her?

Loddby, 29 August 1851

”May God forgive both August and the malicious, hateful Eva all the unhappy moments they give us. He is a weak, of alcohol destroyed creature and, therefore, he follows the directions of a bad, vindictive maid’s gossip when his senses are obscured.”

Loddby, 1 November 1851

”Eva, the wretched creature, Loddby’s evil spirit, is finally gone. God be forever praised! And I hope that it now will be a little calmer at home. She was, at the last moment, as mean and rude and deserved a good flogging if anyone had wanted to dirty their hands. She now moves to Mrs Rosendahl and will surely become a common street girl.

The new cook has arrived and looks fairly plain, but I have a panicky fear that there will be new courting, new scenes, new sorrows and more of that nature, which will never end until our Lord delivers us from the source of all evil, and that will likely not happen soon. Thus, patience, life’s most useful characteristic, don’t leave me as you have done so far.”

August is Augusta’s older brother. He does not work, has tuberculosis, and drinks. Eva, the maid, is described as someone with power over August and someone with bad morals (… will surely become a common street girl). Isn’t it more likely that August, being privileged, had power over the house maid?

Anyway, who was she? Maids are just referred to by their first name. How would I find out who, besides the family, lived at Loddby at this time?

The Swedish Household Examination Register

Sweden has had some very unique laws. One was the Swedish Church Law of 1686 which stipulated that the parish vicar was obliged to conduct household examinations, making sure the parishioners knew the Bible and Luther’s Small Catechism. The results, in addition to some other information regarding each household, was then recorded in a parish register. A consequence of this law was eradication of illiteracy as all children were taught to read in parish schools. A curious detail too, is the recording of smallpox vaccinations which were initiated in 1804. It became the vicar’s role to keep track of vaccinations.

The household examination register in Kvillinge Parish, to which Loddby belonged, would definitely have the records for all who lived at Loddby manor.

And it did! And it was available online.

 Household Examination Record for Loddby 1841-1844
Household Examination Record for Loddby 1841-1844


The time period I looked at was 1841-1844. The persons living at Loddby manor in 1844 were:

Gustaf Lejdenfrost (Augusta’s brother-in-law and owner of Loddby), born 1799
Anna Söderholm (Augusta’s mother), born 1788
August Söderholm (Augusta’s brother), born 1817
Augusta Söderholm, born 1827
Stina Malla Kullerstrand (maid), born 1815
Eva Sara Sandberg (maid), born 1818

I had found Eva!

In 1851, she was 33 years old and August was 34. Would she have used #MeToo about the drunk man who she had to serve on daily, or was she, as Augusta suggested, taking advantage of August. We will never know.

I guess my next task is to find out more about Eva’s life. There are more digitized records online …

Dress Detectives

– Do you remember when we tried on Augusta’s dresses in the attic of Aunt Agneta? Kerstin asked me.

No … I didn’t remember that. I remember staying in the 18-century washhouse by the lake shore in which our aunt had lived during our childhood summers.

– Sure you were there too! It was probably in 1977. There was an old trunk there with two dresses. They were both beautiful ball gowns. One was made of pink silk taffeta and the other one was a purple velvet dress. And they were so small – there were bones sewn into the bodice and I couldn’t even fit into it because the waist was so small – and I was just a teenager!

I wish I remembered, but I didn’t. So, were they Augusta’s gowns and where were they now? A few phone calls to cousins shed some light on the dresses. The ones Kerstin had tried on were probably gone. But there was still a suitcase with dresses that our aunt had kept, and our cousin invited us to come and see them.

Nestled in tissue paper were lace blouses, silk shoes, finely knitted stockings, lace cuffs, parasols, and dresses! The first dress we uncovered was a bright purple, silk taffeta dress. It had a form-fitted bodice and a separate skirt. Kerstin and I examined it as if we were some dress detectives. Could it be Augusta’s?

First we looked at the skirt and realized right away that the model was later than those in the 1850s and probably even Edwardian. The bodice, with a high neck, also pointed to a later date.

And then we realized that some seems were machine stitched.

The first European sewing machine company was founded in 1863 and in Sweden, Husqvarna started making sewing machines in 1872.

Could it have been Augusta’s daughter, Gerda’s? Gerda was born in 1854 and if it had been hers, she would probably have worn in around 1874. We all agreed that it was not likely Gerda’s as she was not very tall, and this dress was made for a tall person. The silk shoes in the trunk were also a European size 40 (US 9.5).

If it was not Gerda’s could it have been her daughter, Eva’s? Eva, our grandmother, was born in 1884 and if it would have been hers, she might have worn it around 1904.

The dress had a train in the back which would have brushed the floor. This was typical of the first decade of the 1900s. The high neck was also popular at this time.

And looking at fashion plates from 1907-1908, there are some very similar styles.

Admitting that we are only amateurs at fashion history, we do believe that the clothes in the trunk belonged to our grandmother and not our great-great grandmother, but that is also really cool!

And who knows, maybe someone in the family has a photograph of Eva in this dress!!!