Helen Beckvold Anderson, ca. 1885.33. A.M. Burnham (Boston). Helen Beckvold Anderson, ca. 1885. From a carte de visite, purchased, 1987/88.

The handwritten caption on the reverse of the original carte de visite from which this copy image was made reads, "Helen Beckvold Anderson—wife of Rev. Jens Anderson. Mother's Best friend & Oscar's aunt." The carte de visite comes from an album containing many photographs of Scandinavian immigrants to Concord, some identified, others not.

From the 1870s, Scandinavians left economic hardship in their native lands to seek a better life in the United States. In Concord, they worked as farm laborers and domestics. They lived a kind of "upstairs/downstairs" existence at first, separate from their Concord-born employers, eventually blending into local social and community life.

Helen Beckvold (also known as Edvardsen) came to Concord from Norway as a young woman, in the early 1870s. She married Jens P. Anderson (Andersen) in 1881. The bride was twenty-nine, the groom twenty-two. The couple had a son in 1882, another in 1884, twins (a boy and a girl, both of whom died shortly after birth) in 1888, and a son in 1890. Mrs. Anderson died three months after the birth of her last child. Jens Anderson remarried in 1893.

In the 1880s, Jens Anderson worked as a railroad switchman and lived with his father, Peter Anderson (see #50), on Elsinore Street (in the present 42/44 Elsinore). During the 1890s, he became pastor of the Norwegian Danish Methodist Episcopal Church. Organized in 1887, the church did not have a home of its own for some time. Its building (now 5/7/9 Thoreau Court) was constructed in 1893, during Anderson's ministry.

In this photograph, Mrs. Anderson's somber expression—typically Scandinavian, if the collection of portraits in the album from which it comes is representative—reflects the caution and self-containment of an outsider in a close-knit community.

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