About Augusta’s Journey
We are two sisters, Kerstin and Sara, who have embarked on a journey to learn and write about the short life of our great-great-grandmother Augusta.
Who was Augusta?
Augusta Söderholm (our father’s mother’s mother’s mother) was born in Sweden in 1827 and died from tuberculosis at the age of 28. During the years 1847 – 1855, she kept a diary which chronicles her 1847 trip through what is now Germany and the Czech Republic, daily life at her country estate Loddby, Östergötland, and her frequent visits to Stockholm with its glamorous social life.
What is Augusta’s Journey?
Augusta’s Journey is our journey to understand the life of a young, wealthy, Swedish girl in the mid-1800s. There is a trove of materials passed down through generations. First and foremost, we have Augusta’s diary and copies of letters she wrote and received. We also have access to many digitized archives – Sweden is unique in the sense of keeping good records of its citizens.
But to fully understand her life, we are also learning about the social environment during this time period. How was country life for a wealthy girl? How did she travel? Who were her friends and what did they do and discuss? How was it to have tuberculosis? What was the fashion and how was it to wear a tight-laced corset (especially when having tuberculosis)?
We have already realized that there are many interesting side-trips to this journey, and are writing about those as well. There are places, friends, and topics that warrant their own exploration and we are not setting any limits on where this journey will take us.
Besides digging into history, we are also following in her footsteps by visiting the places she described and, where possible, travel with similar means of transportation like steam-engine trains and steam boats which are giving us a sense of what she experienced. To get into character of a wealthy 1840s girl, we have also researched and constructed garments based on historical records and patterns.
During our journey, we are sharing our findings and impressions in this blog, on Facebook, and on Instagram. Once our journey comes to an end, we will publish two books, one in Swedish and one in English.
Where has Augusta’s Journey Taken us in 2017?
Augusta’s journey in 1850 s on the Göta Canal in Sweden was the first of her journeys that we decided to “re-enact”. We realized that one could still make this 4-day cruise on a canal boat from the 1800s. In May-June this year, we embarked on the M/S Juno in our 1840s outfits – with hatboxes, carpet bags, and parasols – to experience the same journey that Augusta described in her diary. It was a truly memorable journey!
In September, we used Augusta’s diary as a travel guide as we retraced the journey that Augusta and her mother made through Germany in 1847. We were dressed in our new fall dresses and traveled mostly by train and boats. Besides staying in Lübeck, Berlin, Dresden, Bad Schandau, Prague, and Hamburg, we also hike in Saxon Switzerland and visited the opera in Dresden.
We would be delighted to hear from you if you have information that will make our journey smoother, longer, or more interesting. We are happy to get information and comments in any language and on any topic we are discussing. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.