In this post, our archives assistant Meta shares highlights and images from the recently processed and digitized Ella Jepson Nylander Photograph Collection. This collection is open for research at the CHC.
This collection consists of photographs found in a trunk that belonged to Ella Jepson Nylander. Mrs. Nylander was born Rozella Josephine Jepson in New Sweden, Maine in 1883 to Swedish immigrants Mons and Elna Jepson. Ella and her husband Olof Conrad Nylander lived within the closely-knit Swedish-American community in Cambridge for many years, and a number of the photographs in this collection were taken by photographers in Cambridge and across the water in Boston. Members of the Nylander and related families are represented in the images, in addition to friends and fellow church-goers of the Swedish Baptist Church located at the corner of Washington and Columbia streets.
Cambridge began seeing a rise in Swedish immigrants during the late-nineteenth century, and by 1905 the population had reached 1,645. Many Swedes were employed in trades and as craftsmen, but quite a few members of the younger generation began working in a more professional capacity. The Swedish and Swedish-American community in Cambridge was a close-knit and religious group during this time, and many of their activities centered on their religion.
Ella Jepson married Olof Conrad Nylander in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 30, 1908, and the ceremony was performed by Reverend C. (Carl) E. Johnson, the couple’s first pastor in Cambridge. Reverend Johnson became the pastor for this congregation in 1899. During his time in Cambridge, Reverend Johnson performed wedding ceremonies for various friends of the Nylanders and was very active in organizing church social events.
By 1902, the Swedish Baptist congregation in Cambridge had expanded to over 100 members and began taking bids to create a new church. Many members of the congregation were said to be poor or working class immigrants, and the surrounding community of Cambridge was encouraged to aid in fund contributions to the new church. Construction began in late 1902, and during this time the congregation worshiped in the YMCA building. The cornerstone for the new church was laid on March 8, 1903 and dedicated the following May in 1904. As it stands today, the building at 77 Columbia Street is a substantial improvement to its predecessor and embodies the spirit of community and fellowship of the Swedish community in Cambridge.
For a more in-depth history of this collection and the individuals photographed, click the following text to open the Ella Jepson Nylander Photograph Collection finding aid.
To view the full collection of digitized images, visit the Cambridge Historical Commission Flickr page.