Natalia Frölander was a popular educator and philanthropist in Stockholm around the turn of the century in 1900.
Natalia Frölander was born on 29 July 1858 in Undenäs parish in the county of Skaraborg. She was the only child of the works owner at Forsvik, Carl Wilhelm Palmaer and his wife Selma, née Trozelius. Forsvik is a works with an old tradition. Natalia Frölander’s maternal grandfather Jonas Reinhold Trozelius was the works owner there in 1840–1852, and after his death, Natalia Frölander’s father took over. During the Palmaer era, the works was modernised. Among other things, he founded the first mechanical workshop in Skaraborg, and in 1869, the works was reconstructed as a limited company, becoming Forsviks Aktiebolag.
On 9 June 1883, Natalia Frölander married Henry Theodor Frölander, a clerk and later a bank director. They lived for a few years in the parish of Hedvig Eleonora in Stockholm. Theodor Frölander was born in 1856 in Gothenburg where he had taken his lower school certificate, and after that he had studied at the University of Uppsala. In Uppsala, he socialised with radical circles that in 1882 started the student association Verdandi. In the circle around Verdandi were among others Knut Wicksell and Anna Whitlock. Both Henry and Natalia Frölander became members of Verdandi, and their friendship with among others Knut Wicksell and Anna Whitlock and also Ellen Key lasted for many years.
At the end of the 1800s, a third of the inhabitants in Stockholm had recently moved there to look for work. It was difficult to find somewhere to live. In other countries, dormitory towns with villas had started growing up around the big cities, and with inspiration from England, Henrik Palme decided to try to get Stockholmers to move outside the city limits to Djursholm, a rural idyll though close to the city. In 1889, a prospectus was produced for the new suburb, and in December 1890, the Frölanders moved out there. Other culturally broad-minded people who were also attracted by the idea of getting away from the city bustle were, apart from the initiative-takers Henrik and Anna Palme, also Anna Whitlock, Knut and Anna Bugge Wicksell, as well as Natanael and Elsa Beskow. Several of the women active in Djursholm, among them Natalia Frölander, Elsa Beskow, Louise Woods-Beckman, Signe von Kock, and Alice Tegnér, took the initiative to a collection to build a lecture hall for the workers in Djursholm, so that even they should be able to enjoy “refreshment and culture”.
Natalia Frölander had possible got the idea of giving the workers the possibility to educate themselves after the end of the working day from the association Tolfterna. In 1892, Tolfternas samkväm was started for women from different occupational fields. The initiative came from Ellen Key, Amalia Fahlstedt and Elna Tenow. The aim of the association was to give women workers in Stockholm insight into other levels of life in the community, as well as to create points of contact between and social exchange over the class boundaries. The core of the association was a group of educated women who invited women workers to meetings. Every group had a leader and Natalia Frölander was from the start until her death one of the leaders. Through her beautiful handwriting, it is possible to gain insight into the work of the association. For its 50th jubilee, she and another member, Anna Lindhagen, produced a jubilee pamphlet on the activities undertaken by Tolfterna. Other members of Tolfterna were, among other, Betty Hirsch, Anna Whitlock and Elin Engström.
Several of the women connected with Tolfterna were also members of other popular educational and philanthropic enterprises in Stockholm around 1900. For Natalia Frölander, her engagement led to her becoming engaged in a number of associations and work on boards. One of them was the Föreningen för folkbibliotek och läsestugor, founded in 1900, that had as its aim to establish reading corners in the Stockholm workers’ neighbourhoods. Natalia Frölander’s and Anna Lindhagen’s practical work in opening up reading corners in among others Maria parish was praised.
After her husband’s death in March 1908, Natalia Frölander seems to have entered a new phase of her philanthropical life work. In 1909, she was one of the founders of the Stiftelsen Maria school for housewives. Its task from the beginning was to provide food for poor children, but the aim was soon expanded. The school also educated young girls who had completed their elementary schooling in household work and childcare. Lisen Bonnier and Betty Hirsch, who were both members of Tolfterna, and Natalia Frölander, who was a member of the board, were among the founders who had a property built at the corner of Folkskolegatan/Långholmsgatan on Södermalm in 1913 that was used as a school building by the association. At about the same time, Natalia Frölander was one of the founders of the women’s association Kvinnoklubben. She was the club’s first chairwoman. When the club had its 50th jubilee, a report detailed how for many isolated women it had become a second home where they met “warmth, friendship and stimulation in the break from their daily work”.
Natalia Frölander’s engagement in associations was great, and apart from those described earlier she was also a member of Sveriges Kvinnliga Fredsförening, Nationalföreningen mot emigrationens nationalinsamling and the Fredrika-Bremer-Förbundet. The different networks often crossed each other’s paths. For example, Anna Almqvist, a working woman who ran Tolfternas library, was also the head of the public library in Katarina parish, and one of the initiative-takers to the women’s association Stockholms Allmänna Kvinnoklubb, Amanda Horney, received economic support from Natalia Frölander so that her son could continue to study at Anna Whitlock’s coeducational school.
When Natalia Frölander died in 1951, she was grieved by many, not least by her foster-daughter Maj. She rests in Djursholm Cemetery in Stockholm.