Minnesota stats tidning / Skaffaren

Minnesota stats tidning (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1877-1882 Browse the title

Skaffaren (Red Wing, Minn.) 1878-1882 Browse the title

Skaffaren och Minnesota stats tidning (St. Paul, Minn.; Minneapolis, Minn.) 1882-1885 Browse the title

Skaffaren (St. Paul, Minn.; Minneapolis, Minn.) 1885-1895 Browse the title

Minnesota stats tidning (St. Paul, Minn.; Minneapolis, Minn.) 1895-1939 Browse the title

The histories of the Minnesota stats tidning (Minnesota State’s Newspaper) and Skaffaren (The Steward) are so intertwined that it is difficult to discuss one without the other. Both papers shared a similar audience - Swedish immigrants with a connection to the Augustana Lutheran Conference of Minnesota - but the two papers had widely different approaches to their readership, which frequently put them at odds with one another.

Minnesota stats tidning began in January 1877, when Hans Mattson, previously a Colonel in the Union Army and land agent for the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, joined in partnership with Alfred Soderstrom and Axel Dahlstrand to publish a Swedish-language weekly newspaper in Minneapolis. "My aim in this journalistic work was mainly to instruct and educate my countrymen in such matters as might promote their well-being and make them good American citizens," Mattson would later write in his autobiography. Republican in its political views, the Minnesota stats tidning was an eight-page, seven-column newspaper devoted to general news of the day. By 1878, Minnesota stats tidning had an estimated circulation of 1,800, with a distribution area encompassing Minneapolis and greater Hennepin County. Hans Mattson served as the paper’s editor-in-chief and publisher during its first five years. Although affiliated with the Lutheran church, the Minnesota stats tidning left much of the reporting of church matters to Skaffaren, the unofficial organ of the Augustana Lutheran Conference of Minnesota.

Skaffaren began in 1877 in Red Wing, Minnesota. It was established by Lutheran minister Rev. Eric Norelius, a founder of Gustavus Adolphus College and a veteran of many previous Swedish-language newspaper ventures, including Minnesota posten (the Minnesota Record) and Hemlandet det gamla och det nya (The Homeland, the Old and the New). Skaffaren began as a pamphlet-sized religious publication in Swedish, published and edited solely by Norelius. In 1879, Norelius partnered with Peter Sjoblom and Rev. Andrew Monten, and the paper was moved to St. Paul, where it was enlarged to eight seven-column pages and included national and local news, as well as official announcements from the Lutheran Church. Republican in tone, Skaffaren’s circulation reached a peak of 3,000 by 1881, with subscribers throughout Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. During this period, Rev. Norelius maintained his title as editor and publisher, with Sjoblom serving as assistant editor. Skaffaren operated from its offices in Red Wing, although Rev. Monten in Saint Paul handled the actual day-to-day operations, with Herman Stockenstrom serving as office editor.

Although Minnesota stats tidning was not strictly a secular paper, its relative lack of church news, paired with Hans Mattson’s editorial decision to include announcements from Swedish lodges and fraternal societies, led Skaffaren, under Monten’s leadership, to launch a heated public feud with Minnesota stats tidning. As Emeroy Johnson noted in his 1954 biography of Eric Norelius, Skaffaren published a two-page supplement in its December 1, 1879 issue, in which Monten posed the question “What is Minnesota stats tidning’s attitude with respect to Christianity?” Skaffaren went on to conclude that Minnesota stats tidning’s attitude was “wholly unchristian, and the worst of it is that it pretends to be Christian while it speaks favorably of theatres, dances, lotteries, and saloons.” This feud would continue until 1881, when Hans Mattson accepted an appointment to Calcutta as the United States Consul General and sold his interest in Minnesota stats tidning to Stockenstrom and Skaffaren.

For a brief time, the two papers published separately, but in 1882 they were consolidated to form Skaffaren och Minnesota stats tidning (The Steward and Minnesota State’s Newspaper), edited by Stockenstrom. In 1885, the name of the newspaper was changed back to Skaffaren. In 1895, it became Minnesota stats tidning once again, the name it retained until its final issue in February 1939. Declining readership for Swedish-language publications forced the end of Minnesota stats tidning. The group of Lutheran church leaders that owned the paper began a new publication in English to serve the same audience: The Minnesota Lutheran, which was published until 1940.