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Book Club & Genealogy Session ONLINE

February 27 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

In February the Swedish American Museum Genealogy Society and Book Club will join together in reading “My Maja, A Grandson’s Tribute” by Dr. Donald Grossnickle. This event is free for everyone and we are looking forward to discussing this book between the two different groups.

The book is available for purchase in the Museum Store and please note that the meeting starts at 1 p.m.


My Maja, A Grandson’s Tribute is an upbeat chronicle and analysis of Swedish immigrant Maria Kallgren surviving the Great Depression by tapping into grit and resilience called “framåtanda”. Many Americans can recall a story told from family history when an immigrant grandparent is sentimental and recounts joys and sorrows of leaving the former country behind and starts a new life. Sure to trigger emotions and offer transferable life lessons, My Maja adds to a global explosion of Scandinavian based writing that entertains and illuminates alternative ways to achieve genuine life fulfillment and happiness. Probing what it takes to be fearless in meeting the inevitable adversity and challenges in one’ future is a worthwhile investment at any age. Grandma Maja harbored 3 well-hidden secrets in her steamer trunk. It took serious detective work to understand who was involved, what happened and how it was resolved. Millions engaged in genealogy are warned that a problem exists when hidden family secrets are exposed. Deciding what to do with them leads to heart wrenching choices. Author, Mary Beth Sammons writes, “Dr Don Grossnickle, through his research, discovered his grandmother’s steamer trunk that she brought with her from Sweden…. Inside he found photos, archives and a treasure trove of family history. As a child, he was drawn to the legacy stories of gritty ancestors Maja had memorialized. Tantalizing lore and legend set the stage for dramatic storytelling of brave valor with a proud pedigree of inspirational rags-to riches-legacies. Sharing her vivid details of finding creative ways through hard times became the platform for a close and long relationship.” This lively book portrays one woman’s dramatic and spirited refusal to accept defeat and prove her gritty and unique resilience of the heart.

Dr. Don Grossnickle has applied theory and practice lessons to his life integrating gritty resilience learned from his Swedish immigrant grandmother. Spanning his varied career, he has engaged in writing about and implemented initiatives to deal with high school dropout, assisting recovering paralyzed injured high school athletes, and boosting providing compassionate care for impoverished mothers and babies suffering from malaria in Uganda East Africa. Grossnickle turns now to celebrate women like Grandma Maja and champion their stories of fighting big time adversity like the Great Depression. Discovering that the quiet valor of women like Maja are neglectfully missed by historians his mission now is to celebrate their guts and gumption. Impassioned to see that Maja’s story is no longer tucked away like the photos and family history archives he found in 2004 abandoned in a dusty long forgotten trunk filled with treasures, Grossnickle rescues them. 16 years of research has woven together a story of joys and scars. Maja fought hard for survival artistically crafting a mosaic life for her family from the pieces of her shattered Swedish American dream. Maja was intent to teach her three children about American rugged individualism and Swedish teamwork refusing to give in to despair. Maja loved both Sweden and grew to love America as a land of opportunity for those that refuse to falter. Her grandmotherly love was sweet and the two breakdowns that nearly killed her were well hidden beneath her generous caring and love. Maja’s young husband fell over dead in front of her and the three young children as the stain of a Depression era business failed and he was beaten down. Maja stood tall and stepped up determined to survive. Written in part to offer Maja’s great great granddaughter details of her namesake, Maja Kallgren Wittenstron comes back to life with 40 pages of photos and a storybook. This long overdue tribute honors a remarkable woman adventurer from Solleftea Northern Sweden. Swedish history professor and genealogy expert Lars Lundstrom and US historian Dr. Amy Lippert add authority to the writing team.


February 27
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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