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Gustafva Carolina (Karolina) Åkesson

1837-04-031890-02-16

Pioneering politician

Karolina Åkesson was a pioneer in the Scanian workers’ movement.

Gustafwa Carolina Åkesson was born in 1837 in Växjö. Her mother was Maria Blomström, a widow, and her father is not named in the birth register. She was the second youngest child and her mother was described in the church books as “utterly penniless”. Her mother had been married to Per Johan Blomström, a gold- and silversmith, but he died of nerve fever, typhus, in 1832. Life was hard already, her husband was handicapped and the family poor, but when Maria Blomström was widowed with several children to support, it was if possible even harder.

Karolina Åkesson moved to Karlshamn when she was sixteen and worked there as a maidservant for four years. In 1857, she had a daughter, Anna Wilhelmina, and moved home to her mother in Växjö. Three years later she had another daughter, Ida Mathilda, who died tragically in an accident when she was only one year old. Soon after that, Hans Åkesson, a journeyman shoemaker, moved into the same block and Karolina Åkesson and he fell in love and were married in 1862. In the church books, it was noted that her husband was an “American Mormon” but according to the church register he had never been in America, only Copenhagen for a period. Denmark was the first country in Scandinavia to permit Mormonism. In Sweden, all Christian doctrines that were in conflict with the prevailing Lutheran Christian doctrine were forbidden until 1868.

The couple had twin girls in 1863, but both died, one of rickets at the age of seven months and the other of “scrofula”, that is, lymph tuberculosis, at the age of one. After that, Karolina Åkesson and her husband left Sweden to settle in Copenhagen for five years, perhaps because deviant views on religion were permitted there. There is also information that Hans Åkesson was really an atheist but it was unthinkable to write that in a church register. They had two more children in Denmark: Jenny Ellida in 1867 and Olivier Valdemar in 1869. In accordance with Mormon doctrine, and with atheism, the children were not baptised and when they moved back to Sweden and settled in Malmö in 1870, this was noted down by the clergyman. The family was also registered as: “Having views that are in conflict with the Evangelical Lutheran Doctrine”.

In Malmö, Karolina Åkesson’s husband worked as a shoemaker but did not earn enough to support the whole family, which grew with three more children born in 1872, 1874 and 1876. Karolina Åkesson had to work as a cleaner and housekeeper in wealthy families. In Malmö, the socialist movement was flourishing. August Palm, who had travelled in Europe as a journeyman shoemaker and been inspired by the emergence of social democracy, held a famous speech at Hotell Stockholm in Malmö on 6 November 1881: “What do the socialists want?”, and on 26 November he gathered 800 listeners in the same town. Karolina Åkesson and her husband were there and when the Women workers’ association was founded in Malmö by Elma Danielsson in 1888, Karolina Åkesson was one of the first to join it. She was a frequent participant at meetings and lectures with the pioneers of social democracy. When the social democratic party was founded in 1889, she was one of the first women to join it. She also became a close friend of Axel Danielsson, the founder of the newspaper Arbetet, and Elma Danielsson’s husband. When he was released from his first prison sentence in Malmö on 1 February 1890, Karolina Åkesson stood there and received him with a bouquet of flowers, only two weeks before her own death.

Karolina Åkesson’s daughter Jenny Åkesson lived with the agitator and nihilist Wilhelm Åhlund who was one of August Palm’s closest colleagues and whose views often led to his being sacked from his jobs and also losing their home. Karolina Åkesson was also sacked from her job as cleaner at the right-wing newspaper Skånska aftonbladet when her socialist involvement became known. Shortly after that she was afflicted by ill health and in February 1890 she died, at 52 years of age. Before her burial in Mellersta Cemetery in Malmö, a circular was distributed at factories and workshops and 6,000 people followed her coffin to her grave.

Axel Danielsson, one of the foremost representatives of social democracy, held a heartfelt speech in which he emphasised Karolina Åkesson’s significance for the early social democratic movement. He also wrote her obituary in the newspaper Arbetet, signed “Marat”:

“Today this newspaper, to which she devoted her warmest interest from its first number and for which she did so much, to the fallen fighter speaks its thanks for faithful combat. For Mrs Åkesson not only stood on guard but she also fought. May her memory live long among us and become a exhorting role model, an exciting spur to the battle we still have to face before the task is completed.”


Petra Nyberg
(Translated by Margaret Myers)


Published 2021-02-04



You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Gustafva Carolina (Karolina) Åkesson, www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/GustafvaCarolinaKarolinaAkesson, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Petra Nyberg), retrieved 2021-06-14.




Other Names

    Maiden name: Blomström


Family Relationships

Civil Status: Married
  • Mother: Maria Teresia Blomström, född Dominic
  • Father: [Okänd]
  • Brother: Frans Johan Blomström
more ...


Activities

  • Profession: Piga
  • Profession: Städerska


Contacts

  • Colleague: Axel Danielsson
  • Relative: Wilhelm Åhlund, svärson
  • Friend: Elma Danielsson


Organisations

  • Malmö kvinnliga arbetareförbund
    Medlem
  • Malmö Socialdemokratiska förening
    Medlem
  • Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti (SAP, nuvarande Socialdemokraterna)
    Medlem


Residences

  • Birthplace: Växjö
  • Växjö
  • Karlshamn
more ...


Sources

Literature
  • Andersson, John & Espvall, Marco Jamil, 'Arbetarrörelsens glömda kvinnor', Internationalen, 2015-03-06

  • Arbetet, 1890-02-18, 1890-02-20

  • Wolf, Aniko, "Anarkistfruntimren": Malmö kvinnliga arbetareförbund, [Malmö?, 2015?]

Unpublished source
  • Uppgifter av släktingar till Karolina Åkesson: Karin Sundling Nygren och Lasse Waldemarsson



Further References