Anita Olson Gustafson

Dissertation Fellow, 1988

Anita Olson Gustafson Alumnae Dissertation Fellow, 1988

Dr. Anita O. Gustafson is Professor of History at Presbyterian College, Clinton, South Carolina, where she has taught since 1997. In her words, “my research field is American immigration history, particularly the movement of people from Sweden to America, but I have also developed interests in a number of other areas in American history. I teach American Colonial and Revolutionary History, History of the South, Women in American History, Young America, Immigration History, Slavery and Freedom in America, American history survey courses, as well as the Rise of World Cultures and Ideas and the Modern World, which are PC’s general education courses. I have also led, with other faculty colleagues, travel courses to Oxford University and to the American West of Lewis and Clark.

I received my B.A. in Swedish and economics with a minor in history at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. It was at North Park that I came to understand the value of an education received at a small liberal arts college. I earned my M.A. and my Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Shortly after completing my doctorate, my husband, Charlie, and I moved to South Carolina where a few years later our son Karl was born. We now enjoy living near the Presbyterian College campus and feel very much at home in South Carolina. In 2007 I was named Presbyterian College’s Professor of the Year and receive an Excellence in Teaching Award from the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.

Despite living in a part of the country where few Swedes settled, I have continued my research in Swedish immigration history. I have published a number of articles, including: ‘We Hope to be Able to Do Some Good: Swedish American Women’s Organizations in Chicago,’ for which I received the Franklin Scott prize for best new article appearing in the Swedish-American Historical Quarterly. Others I have published are: ‘Jenny Lind on Tour: The Swedish Nightingale’s Visit to Charleston, 1850-1851,’ ‘North Park: Building a Swedish Community in Chicago,’ and ‘Teaching Swedish in the Public Schools: Cultural Persistence in Minneapolis.’ I hope to have my manuscript, ‘Making Chicago Swedish: The Shaping of an immigrant Community in Chicago, 1880-1920,’ published soon.

Reflection on the Alumnae Fellowship

I am proud to be an alumna of Northwestern University and to be counted among the many talented women who have benefited from the Dissertation Fellowship. This award from the Alumnae of Northwestern University allowed me to complete my Ph.D. in history in a timely fashion by supporting me as I completed my dissertation research. My graduate experience at Northwestern prepared me well for my career as a professor and as a college administrator. You might say that I’ve paid back my Dissertation Fellowship by paying it forward—mentoring young women and men so that they can make the most of their education and serve as role models for those who follow after them.