Anna Lutteman was the director of Uppsala Hemsysterskola (home helper school), and her teaching methods inspired the provision which from 1944 onwards became known as public home care. Her enterprise became a nationwide operation and served as a role-model for similar schools elsewhere in Sweden and Finland.
Anna Lutteman was born on 27 September 1884. Her birth surname – that of her father – was Andersson but once her mother confirmed her right to the Lutteman family name she changed both her own and her daughter’s name. Anna Lutteman trained at Fackskolan för huslig ekonomi (vocational school for home economics) in Uppsala. Her certificate was valid as a teaching diploma and enabled her to gain employment at public schools, high schools, and rural home economics schools. Anna Lutteman later worked as a teacher at Sunderby public high school in Norrbotten and in Arvika. At the latter institution she also ran courses for Fredrika-Bremer-Förbundet (association). She spent a few years teaching women’s handicrafts in Avesta.
In 1915 Manfred Björkqvist, who set up the Sigtuna foundation – who was also a good friend of Anna Lutteman’s brother Axel Lutteman as well as Ida Norrby, amongst others – started the Uppsala Hemskola. Its main purpose was to educate female servants in order to strengthen their positions, generate greater respect for home helpers and “to try to be a home for those in many homes who were homeless”. It was also hoped that the school would support poor families, in particular, and later it was transformed into a ‘hemsyster’ (home helper) training programme. The school board always comprised a significant number of women. Following a shaky start which entailed three different directors in a relatively short period, Anna Lutteman was appointed in 1922. She took a firm hold of the enterprise and kept hold of it for the rest of her life. For 46 years she served as the director of the training programme, which in turn formed a progressive step in modernising the status of home carers and assisted housewives at times of illness or other periods of temporary absence by creating a new home help career for women.
This comprehensive training was the same for both home helpers and female servants. In addition to theory there was six months of practical training which the home helpers undertook at orphanages and hospitals. When Anna Lutteman was asked why such a long period of training was required for those simply ‘relieving’ poor housewives who themselves were barely educated, she responded that the service did not merely entail running a household. Home helpers had to be smart and understanding and be able to inspire confidence in an appropriate manner and give advice when it was required. A home helper should behave like a “sister in the home”. Although the training was not free loans were available to the students who could arrange repayment plans to suit themselves. The enterprise was initially regulated by Socialstyrelsen (the board of health and welfare) who also set the uniform, and subsequently by Överstyrelsen för yrkesutbildning (the board of vocational education).
For those who completed the training a solemn inauguration ceremony was held in Uppsala cathedral, similar to the ceremonies for deaconesses and nurses. The home helpers ‘belonged’ to the school and when they were sent out nationwide contracts were written between the school, the home helpers and those requiring help. The latter could be municipalities, the Red Cross, housewives’ societies, Social Democrat party women’s societies, women’s clubs, companies and others. Anna Lutteman initially served as the school’s director but later became its principal. In addition to teaching social studies, amongst other things, and developing the training programme, she was responsible for maintaining contact with the home helpers and so she travelled throughout the country visiting them. She also set up a home helper society in 1923 of which she was the chair. She further saw to it that two summer cottages in Sigtuna were acquired where the home helpers could spend their holidays if they so wished.
The home helpers wore a uniform similar to nurses’ uniforms because they sometimes worked in environments in which single women could be vulnerable. “Everyone is courteous and friendly with them, as befits someone wearing a serving home helper’s uniform”, Anna Lutteman said.
The service was based on Christian ideals and the board always included a priest among its members. The work of home helpers was never considered a ‘calling’ as such and was regulated by proper employment contracts with far better conditions than those enjoyed by maids or servants. In 1931 home helpers earned SeK.62.50 a month, compared to the current standard rate for single maids of Sek.35. Further, home helpers benefited from furnished homes, food, lighting, heating, and laundry as well as telephone access where possible. In addition to this home helpers received one month’s paid holidays, including ‘food money’ for each day of holiday, and there was health insurance with sick-pay and accident-cover as well as pension insurance. Anna Lutteman was in charge of employment conditions and she emphasised that a new profession was being established.
Anna Lutteman generated a very extensive contact network over time. Her close friends included her sister-in-law Ester Lutteman, who was a theologian, and the author Jeanna Oterdahl and they sometimes appeared as teachers or lecturers on the training programme. Jeanna Oterdahl, for example, wrote the ‘Hemsyster’ song. Neighbouring countries took an interest in Anna Lutteman’s school and sometimes students from abroad were accepted. A visit to the school by socially-active Finnish women led to the opening of a Hemsyster school in Hindhår in 1939.
The enterprise expanded within Sweden. The number of applications always exceeded the available number of places and in the autumn of 1939 an affiliated branch of the school was opened in Leksand – known as “Korstäppan” – for which Anna Lutteman also initially served as principal. At the same time schools were established in Lund, Södertälje, Gothenburg, and Härnösand all of which followed the Uppsala role model. Their graduates also wore the same uniform and badges as those from Uppsala.
As the provision of social home-care expanded Anna Lutteman participated in a variety of working groups and from 1944 she became a member of the Socialstyrelsen advisory agency for social home-care.
Anna Lutteman retired from her position as principal in 1949, but remained on the board until 1964. She was thus active during the school’s final phase which began with the building of an entirely new school building in Uppsala, specifically designed for that purpose. It was inaugurated with great pomp and ceremony in 1966, with “Mamma Lutt” (as she was known) as guest of honour, of course. In 1973 the state withdrew its funding for private vocational schools and this led to the Hemsyster school closing down. By then a number of home helpers totalling between 1 700 and 2 000 had been trained by the school and they came to form an important recruitment source for care-homes for the elderly.
The school had been Anna Lutteman’s life, her family, and her lifetime’s work. The students always referred to her as “Mamma Lutt” and she viewed them as “hers”. When she wrote a thank you note following the celebrations they put on for her sixtieth birthday she signed off “with maternal greetings”.
Anna Lutteman died in 1968 and left everything she had to the school. She is buried at the Gamla cemetery in Uppsala.