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Up in the Rocky Mountains

Writing the Swedish Immigrant Experience

2007
Author:

Jennifer Eastman Attebery

Up in the Rocky Mountains

How Swedish immigrants became Westerners and Americans, as shown through their letters home

Jennifer Eastman Attebery offers a new perspective on Swedish immigrants’s experiences in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico from 1880 to 1917 by interpreting their letters home. Recognizing the letters’s power as a folk form, Attebery provides a model for discerning immigrants’s shared culture in correspondence collections and brings to life small Swedish communities throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

Jennifer Attebery has undertaken a new and promising approach. With a combination of ethnic and regional concentration, Up in the Rocky Mountains serves to counterbalance the traditional, marked Anglo-American bias in the writing of Western history.

H. Arnold Barton, author of The Old Country and the New: Essays on Swedes and America

Before the turn of the twentieth century, many Swedish men emigrated to the American Rockies as itinerant laborers, drawn by the region’s developing industries. Single Swedish women ventured west, too, and whole families migrated, settling into farm communities. By 1920, one-fifth of all Swedish immigrants were living in the West.

In Up in the Rocky Mountains, Jennifer Eastman Attebery offers a new perspective on Swedish immigrants’s experiences in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico from 1880 to 1917 by interpreting their letters home. Considering more than three hundred letters, Attebery analyzes their storytelling, repetitive language, traditional phrasing, and metaphoric images. Recognizing the letters’s power as a folk form, Attebery sees in them the writers’s relationships back in Sweden as well as their encounters with religious and labor movements, regionalism, and nationalism in their new country.

By defining personal letters as a vernacular genre, Attebery provides a model for discerning immigrants’ shared culture in correspondence collections. By studying their words, she brings to life small Swedish communities throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

Up in the Rocky Mountains

Jennifer Eastman Attebery is professor of English at Idaho State University, where she teaches folklore and American studies and directs the American Studies Program.

Up in the Rocky Mountains

Jennifer Attebery has undertaken a new and promising approach. With a combination of ethnic and regional concentration, Up in the Rocky Mountains serves to counterbalance the traditional, marked Anglo-American bias in the writing of Western history.

H. Arnold Barton, author of The Old Country and the New: Essays on Swedes and America

The strange and often brutal life in the beautiful Rocky Mountain region during the early twentieth century truly comes alive in the letters in Up in the Rocky Mountains.

Barbro Klein, Director of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study

Eastman’s research and analysis are thoroughly insightful and helpful to anyone interested in nineteenth century Scandinavian immigration and folklore. The book is very well organized and thoughtful; it is easy to read and stimulating. For readers interested in Scandinavian emigration, particularly to the American West, this book contributes greatly to the field and provides innovative ways of interpreting the Swedish immigrant experience.

Utah Historical Quarterly

Attebery succeeds admirably in bringing Swedish immigrants’s letters and daily routines to life for the reader. Her explication of immigrants’s letters as a vernacular genre constitutes a significant contribution to folklore and history. Her analysis is lively and persuasive, and the well-chosen photographs help the reader understand what it was like to be ‘up in the Rocky Mountains’ around the turn of the twentieth century.

Journal of Folklore Research

Up in the Rocky Mountains is an interesting and highly useful contribution to Swedish American scholarship and its related fields.

American Historical Review

Up in the Rocky Mountains is a well-executed scholarly work.

Annals of Wyoming

Attebery’s study gives voice to a long overlooked community with a significant presence in the region. Her book fills a void and is a valuable addition to the history of Scandinavian immigration to western North America.

Montana The Magazine of Western History

Attebery’s writing is scholarly yet accessible and engaging, a pleasure to read.

Western Folklore