Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-1-2017


When I was a child, my father occasionally sang fragments of a few Swedish and Danish songs he had heard while growing up during the Depression Era in a small Wisconsin town settled mostly by Scandinavian emigrants. Just a generation removed from his parents' arrival to the Upper Midwest from Sweden and Denmark, my father all his life sought to assimilate into the elite culture associated with the Eastern US megalopolis. Yet, while never conversant in his parents' native languages, he sang fragments of songs from those Old World cultures because they were a vital part of who his parents were and, by extension, who he was.

People connected to the Upper Midwest...


Published as Ted Olson, Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946, The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 130, No. 518 (Fall 2017). © 2017 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.