This Swedish New Year’s Eve in 1925 Chicago happened 95 years ago tonight when my Swedish and Swedish-American relatives (and neighbors?) gathered together. How I wish I knew all the names of these relatives! But here’s what I know – so far:
About This Swedish New Year’s Eve in 1925 Chicago
That’s my grandmother, Anna Hann Loe, third from the bottom right. And my four-year-old father is leaning just in front of her, looking none too thrilled about this noisy celebration going on past his bedtime. I think that’s my Norwegian-American grandfather on the top row far right behind them, but I’ve never seen him this excited before. It must have been some party!
The Chicago Location
This party was held in a basement in Chicago (warmer down by the furnace, I’ll bet). But I haven’t been able to pinpoint the location. Is this the classic Chicago two-flat my grandmother and her sister Louise bought together in 1925? I know Chicago basements, I’ve been in that Chicago basement, and I can’t prove it, but that is no basement at her house.
Still with no proof, I think the party was located at their brother’s brick three-flat at 6450 N. Albany Avenue. Ernie Hahn painted houses and had done very well in the 1920s. The Hahns were rightfully proud of their success. But I think they’d be gobsmacked to know that this building not only survives, but also boasts three condos in the mid-$500,000s price range. In a few years, a tragedy happened to this family, but that’s no topic for tonight.
The Chicago Photographer
Many large-format, mounted prints of the Larsson-Hann family survive. All seemed to be documented by professional photographers: New Year’s, slumber parties, family gatherings. As I looked at these images for family photo clues, I realized that they were no Brownie Box snapshots. The cardboard mounts on the other photographs gave me the solution: R.T. Benson & Co. of Chicago was actually an enthusiastic amateur photographer and family member.
I could research old family photos all day. In fact, I used to in my former professional career. How fortunate I am to be able to have these vintage prints of my family to mine for more clues.
Chicago Genealogy Resources
Working on your Swedish-Americans in Chicago? Here are some links that help:
Chicago and Illinois Digital Collections
Free Chicago City Directories Online
Swedish Genealogical Resources for Chicago