Census Sunday - 1910 US Census: Moline, Rock Island, Illinois - Lydia Abrahamson

Line 27 - Abrahamson, Lydia, Servant, aged 20

1910 US Census Moline, Rock Island, Illinois
click on census to enlarge for easier viewing

April 1910, my grandmother Lydia has been in the US. for just over a year. She is working as a live in household servant for the Irwing family. This was a very common occupation for young single Swedish immigrant women. Swedish housemaids were among the preferred. In fact at the turn of the century a fourth of all of Chicago's domestic servants were of Swedish origin and nationwide they were among the predominant groups in household labor along with Irish, Germans and Norwegians. Swedish  housemaids had a reputation for being honest, diligent, hardworking, willing to learn and unlikely to complain.* It was a good paying and highly respected job in the Swedish community.

I think she may have liked her life with the Irwing family. Sure the work was hard, but housework was difficult in those days and no worse than it had been back home in Sweden  Swedish maids were respected and relatively well paid as opposed to harsh conditions working in Sweden.
The Swedish American population was young, the majority of the population was between 20 and 40 and there were more Swedish men than women in America. The Swedish girls could have their pick. The Swedish girls adapted quickly to American ways and working in an American home they picked up English quickly. As you can see by this census record Lydia, here just a year, already speaks English.

My grandmother Lydia would shortly meet my grandfather Rikard, now going by Richard, who had arrived from Sweden in 1906. In the next year she would leave her employment to be a full time housewife as was then the custom and expectation.

*an excerpt from "Peasant Maids, City Women: From the European Countryside to Urban America." a book by Christiane Harzig, Cornell University Press