Ingrid Hammarström was the second woman in Sweden to be appointed professor of history. She was also one of most eminent Swedish historians of her time.
Ingrid Hammarström was born in 1924 in Härnösand. She was the only child of a municipal employee. The particular environment of the politically socialist Ådalen left its mark on her from an early age and provided the basis for what later became her considerable enthusiasm for the workers’ movement and its principles. After completing her school education at Härnösand högre ällmänna läroverk (an advanced public school) she enrolled at Uppsala University. She gained her licentiate in history there in 1949, followed by her licentiate in economic history in 1953. She was awarded a PhD in history in 1956 and became a docent that year. She maintained a lifelong close relationship with her supervisors, the professors Karl-Gustav Hildebrand, Erik Lönnroth and Sven A Nilsson. While she was studying in Uppsala Ingrid Hammarström was actively involved in the Clarté and Laboremus associations. It was through them that she met Hans Håkansson, the man who became her husband.
Her doctoral dissertation Finansförvaltning och varuhandel 1504-1540 analysed the treasury records of both the Sture and the early Vasa eras, a research area which had previously gone almost untouched. Shortly afterwards her book The price revolution in sixteenth-century England gained her international attention. Ingrid Hammarström then spent a year researching at the London School of Economics and in 1961 she received a research docent position in history at Uppsala University. As a docent she and fellow docent Göran B Nilsson ran a project called “Ideologi och socialpolitik vid 1800-talets mitt”. In this project Ingrid Hammarström, with the help of her students, once again tackled issues which had previously received scant scholarly attention, such as child labour, defenselessness, convalescent homes, and early public schools.
In October 1970 Ingrid Hammarström was appointed professor of history, specialising in city and municipal history at Stockholm University. She thus became the second female professor of history in Sweden. One of the most important outcomes of her employment was the well-researched study called Stockholm i svensk ekonomi 1850-1914. She systematically and methodically analysed Stockholm’s industrial development by trades and placed it within its national context. The contemporary changes in Stockholm trade and shipping were studied with equal precision and the same intellectual clarity.
Ingrid Hammarström’s professorship involved her becoming the director of Stads and kommunhistoriska institutet (the Institute of Urban History). The comparative city history, which she had successfully applied in her book on Stockholm, was further developed, for instance in a project on Kalmar city history. This project entailed the collaboration of historians, art experts and archaeologists, as well as other specialists, from Stockholm, Uppsala and Kalmar. The results were published in three volumes, which were released in the years between 1979 and 1984. Given that Ingrid Hammarström was the main editor, most prominence was awarded to social and economic history perspectives, along with the modern urbanising process in Kalmar’s history.
During Ingrid Hammarström’s leadership the already established international contacts of the Institute of Urban History were further strengthened and developed due to her ties to the British Urban History Group and the Centre for Urban History in Leicester. She started a new collaboration between her institute and the local history institutes of Denmark, Norway, and Finland in the early 1970s through a regular series of conferences, which continue to this day.
Ingrid Hammarström enjoyed surrounding herself with researchers and doctoral students of various subjects and from various places within Sweden and the North. Further to the Kalmar group, she led a project called Svensk stadsmiljö (Swedish city environments) which brought historians and art experts from Stockholm and Uppsala. Ingrid Hammarström was aided by docent Thomas Hall in this project. She was also part of the steering group for the pan-Nordic “Centralmakt och lokalsamhälle på 1700-talet” project, where Birgitta Ericsson, who was Ingrid Hammarström’s first doctoral student, was the Swedish project leader.
A large part of Ingrid Hammarström’s time as professor of city and municipal history was marred by severe illness. With the dedicated support of her husband she still managed to fulfil her employment duties until she retired in 1989. Ingrid Hammarström died in Sigtuna in March 2005 at the age of 80. Her grave lies in Sigtuna cemetery.