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Collection Ernst Wilhelm Olson papers
Collection Number MSS P:12
Dates of Creation 1870-1958
Extent of Description 1.25 linear feet, 4 boxes
Language Swedish, English
Creator Olson, Ernst Wilhelm, 1870-1958
Search Terms Olson, Ernst Wilhelm, 1870-1958
Augustana Book Concern (Rock Island, Ill.)
Rock Island (Ill.)
Administrative or Biographical History Ernest Wilhelm Olson was born in the town of Mjölkalånga in Finja parish, Skåne, Sweden. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1878 with his parents and nine siblings. The family settled on a farm near Wahoo, Nebraska. His early schooling was somewhat irregular, but he did attend the Luther Academy for periods of time. In 1887, he enrolled at Augustana College and graduated with a B.A. degree in 1891. While attending Augustana, Olson developed an interest in journalism and begun to contribute to the school paper and other campus publications.

In 1893, Olson was offered the position of editor for Nya Pressen, a Swedish newspaper published in Moline, Illinois. He became the editor for Fosterlandet, also published in Moline in 1897. In 1900, he accepted the editorship for Svenska Tribunen in Chicago. He left the field of journalism in 1905 and went to work as the Christian literature editor at the Engberg-Holmberg publishing company in Chicago. In 1911, he was offered a similar position at the Augustana Book Concern in Rock Island, Illinois. He worked for ABC for 38 years and became well known for his literary contributions in both Swedish and English. Olson also edited the Observer, a forerunner to the Lutheran Companion in 1913 and Ungdomsvännen 1914-1918.

Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas presented Olson with an honorary atrium magister degree in 1899 and in 1926 Augustana College conferred upon him the honorary degree of L.H.D. In recognition of his literary achievements, Olson was knighted by the Royal Order of Vasa. Furthermore, he won the St. Eric's Society of New York's Swedish poetry competition in 1922. Olson was also instrumental in developing the new hymnal and service book for the Augustana Lutheran Church, published in 1927. Among his published works are:
History of Swedes in Illinois 2 vols. 1908
En bokhandels historia 1910
Kantat för jubelsynoden with music 1910
Reformationskantat (Swedish and English text with music 1917)
The Swedish Element in Illinois 1917
Pilgrim of the Prairies, dedicatory chatter Messiah Festival Lindsborg, Kansas 1929 and 1931
Augustana Book Concern, a History 1934
Life and Work of Olof Olsson 1941
Valda dikter (Swedish and English) 1947
"Svensk Diktning" and other textbooks Olson collaborated in "Svenskarna i Amerika" 2 vols, 1925 and the 300th Anniversary volume "Swedes in America," 1938.
Ernest William Olson is listed in Who's Who in America and the last entry appeared in 1952.
Scope & Content The collection reflects Olson's interest in religion and his professional life in the publishing business and includes his own articles and writings, notebooks, letters and newspaper clippings. Olson's writings contain lectures and speeches he gave, articles on a wide variety of topics, hymns, poems, and published copies of music, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks.
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