"Vidunder till qvinnor" : Sju systrar som pionjärer i yrkesliv och offentlighet 1860-1935

Sammanfattning: The second half of the 19th century saw the Swedish agrarian society transforming into an industrial society, a development which brought with it major social change including an incipient emancipation of woman. The unmarried woman obtained a number of new rights legally, politically and financially. New educational opportunities came within reach and she was given access to an independent professional life. This group biography depicts the life stories of seven sisters. They grew up in a society in which woman's given role was that of the mistress of the house. Their father, Jonas Andersson of Häckenäs Estate, was a liberal member of Parliament and a representative of the Swedish peasant estate and he fought for woman's right to authority, education and access to new vocational spheres. The strategies he advocated provided a way out for the woman into the public sphere, a path which all the seven sisters were to turn into. Also their mother supported and encouraged them in their life choices. The sisters chose different careers and educational paths, whereby they stepped out into the public sphere in many cases as pioneers - as elementary school teachers, telegraph operator, photographer and physiotherapist. Some of them enjoyed permanent appointments whereas others were self-employed. The seven sisters remained autonomous professional women. None of them married. Using an extended politics and public sphere concept, which includes women's activities within popular movements and societies, it is argued that some of the sisters also appeared in other public arenas by participating in social debate and contributing to social change. Particularly two of the sisters have been studied in this respect. As an active politician after women had been given their full political rights, the younger of the two had the opportunity to put into practice her visions of a better society. She was the one who most clearly made visible their ideological heritage from home. As the "daughters of liberalism", the seven sisters managed to convert the social and cultural capital that they brought with them from childhood. They stepped out into the various arenas of the public sphere and chose a way of life so different from that of previous generations of women. They viewed themselves as "marvellous women" as they did not fulfil what long had been regarded as woman's "true destiny". Instead, they helped to create a new female pattern of life.

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