Lilian Hultin was a folkhögskola (adult college) teacher and one of the founders of Kvinnofolkhögskolan (women’s adult college) in Gothenburg.
Lilian Hultin was born in Gothenburg in 1937. Her parents were Carl Kihl, a warehouse manager, and his wife Iréne (Ninnie) Sinclair. After gaining her school-leaving certificate in 1957 Lilian Hultin then gained her MA in economic history, literature, and Nordic languages and subsequently started studying for her licentiate in economic history at Gothenburg university, although she never completed this. She was married to Jan Hultin from 1959–1968, and they had a daughter named Katarina, who was born in 1960. Lilian Hultin worked as a teacher for Gothenburg folkhögskola from the 1970s onwards. There she also worked within the Pedagogisk utveckling för folkhögskolan (PUFF) (pedagogical developments for adult colleges) section. Alongside her studies and professional work Lilian Hultin was also active within the student union and the women’s movement as well as the anti-nuclear weapons movement. She was the secretary and contact person for the Vietnam committee in Gothenburg and a member of the women’s policies executive committee of the Vänster (left-wing) communist party whilst also active in the party’s school-workers’ group. She attended the women’s history seminar led by Gunnar Qvist and Gunhild Kyle and the Forum for female researchers and women’s research, both at Gothenburg university.
In 1976 a working group was established at Gothenburg folkhögskola which was intended to found a women’s folkhögskola, namely a school for the women’s movement. Lilian Hultin was highly active in this enterprise. Her inspiration came from the previous Kvinnliga medborgarskolan (the female citizens' school) at Fogelstad, a progressive folkhögskola movement in Denmark and women’s camp at Femö which Lilian Hultin had attended in 1976. She was involved in numerous meetings, lobbying of politicians and authorities, arranging of weekend seminars and short courses in conjunction with Gothenburg folkhögskola and Studiefrämjandet (educational association) amongst others. From 1978 the women’s movement gained access to a building in the Gamlestaden area of Gothenburg where Kvinnohuset was established and the first “foundational courses” for women were held. Lilian Hultin taught on some of these.
According to Lilian Hultin the Folkhögskola group wanted to give women an “ordinary civic education” and skills which would provide “solidarity, democracy, and preparatory tools”. Women were to be educated in order to have an impact in the employment sphere and wider society, which was seen as compatible with the general goals of the folkhögskola. Indeed, Gothenburg folkhögskola was behind the initial courses. Technical, or practical, teaching was alternated with theoretical studies. A feminist perspective was present throughout the teaching. From its inception immigrant women made up a large portion of the students. There was a nursery for the students’ children at the school. In 1981 Nordiska folkhögskolan in Kungälv became an affiliated institution for construction courses. Further, courses in Swedish language and social studies were introduced.
Stiftelsen (the foundation) Kvinnofolkhögskolan was established in 1983 and following an act of parliament in 1985 an independent women’s folkhögskola was set up at its own premises with Lilian Hultin as its first principal. The school was to be democratically run so that both teachers and students could have influential roles. The school continued to expand, increasing its number of courses and even extending to an international level. Ordinary courses led to highschool qualification equivalency and the school became part of the Gothenburg establishment. Lilian Hultin remained an active teacher at the school until she retired. She was also active within the folkhögskola teachers’ union, Svenska folkhögskolans lärarförbund (SFHL).
During the 1990s Lilian Hultin began to suffer from serious damage to her eyesight which eventually resulted in her going blind. She then became active within Synskadades Riksförbund (national association for those with impaired eyesight). Within this organisation she set up women’s groups. In 2003 she was given the Gothenburg city merit award.
Lilian Hultin’s final project concerned her former girls’ school in Gothenburg. She was the initiator of the book Vart tog Fredrika vägen? En bok om Flickläroverket och flickorna, which was published in 2004. She never got to see the completed book, however.
Lilian Hultin died in Gothenburg in 2004. She is buried at the Östra cemetery in Gothenburg.