Vårt Hem

Vårt hem (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1890-1897  Browse the title

The Swedish-language Minnesota newspaper Vårt hem ("Our Home") was the undertaking of Swedish Lutheran minister and Republican politician Reverend Gustav Wahlund. Rev. Wahlund was born in Brålanda, Dalsland, Sweden, in 1856 and immigrated to the United States in 1882. He studied at Augustana College and Theological Seminary at Rock Island, Illinois, was ordained in 1884, and came to Minnesota in 1888 to take up a post at Spring Lake Lutheran Church in Isanti County. Wahlund was elected three times to the Minnesota State Legislature for Isanti and Anoka counties, serving in the House of Representatives 1891-1894 and in the State Senate 1923-1926. He also served on the Minnesota State Board of Charities and Corrections and the Minnesota Board of Visitors to Public Institutions, and as general manager for North Star College in Warren, Minnesota, while continuing as a church pastor in Spring Lake and later Ham Lake and Wyoming, Minnesota. 

Rev. Wahlund founded Vårt hem in Spring Lake in August 1890, coinciding with the launch of his political career. The twice-monthly, four-page, five-column newspaper described itself as "devoted to the interest of Our Home, Church & Community."  It was a combination of religious devotional and pro-Republican political content, with some local, national, and world news. In January 1891 the paper expanded to six columns and publication was moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, though Rev. Wahlund retained his position as pastor in Spring Lake. Weekly publication began in September 1891, and the paper was again expanded to seven columns in January 1893. In October 1893 a group including Rev. Wahlund incorporated the Vart Hem Publishing Company, which assumed publication of Vårt hem; Wahlund remained in place as manager and editor. The newspaper was increased to eight pages around the same time.

Rev. Wahlund ran afoul of the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Conference of Minnesota in May 1894. At its annual meeting, the conference passed a resolution noting their strong disapproval of Rev. Wahlund's position as editor-in-chief of Vårt hem and chairman of its publishing company and bookstore. The conference's main concern seems to have been suspicion regarding the membership of non-Lutherans in the publishing company. Rev. Wahlund was also occasionally targeted in the pages of Skaffaren, another Twin Cities Swedish-language newspaper operated by a Lutheran minister. 

Vårt hem did not publish November 23-December 14, or December 28, 1894, due to financial constraints. In January 1895, Vart Hem Publishing Company bought the Swedish-language St. Paul newspaper Folkets nyheter ("People's News"; no extant copies), in an attempt to increase their subscriber roll and stabilize their finances. Publication moved to St. Paul and the masthead was changed to read Vårt hem och folkets nyheter beginning with the January 25, 1895 issue. As part of the merger with a secular newspaper, Vårt hem entirely dropped its religious focus, describing itself as a "Political and Home Journal." The paper's content from this point is mainly news: local, national, and international with a Swedish focus. Rev. Wahlund's name also disappears from print at the time of the merger; however, a March 1895 Skaffaren article claims, "It is an open secret that Pastor W. still handles the pen and scissors at 'Vårt Hem's' sanctum, and that he also, as the company's president, deals with the newspaper's business." 

Vårt hem suspended publication after the May 24, 1895 issue, and did not appear again until October 4, 1895. In that issue, Rev. Wahlund informed his readers that he had sold the newspaper to the Swedish American Publishing Company of Omaha, Nebraska - the publisher of Svenska journalen - and that newspaper's editor, Dr. John A. Enander, was now editor-in-chief of Vårt hem, with Wahlund staying on as local manager and assistant editor. From this point, Vårt hem served as a Minnesota edition of Svenska journalen, with the large majority of the content exactly duplicating that of the Omaha paper, and only a small amount of local content and local advertisements added.

With the October 25, 1895 issue the masthead reverted to Vårt hem, dropping the Folkets nyheter name. In October 1896 Rev. Wahlund was ousted by the publishers of Vårt hem due to his public support of free silver, a position aligned with populism and opposed by the Republican Party. Augustana College graduate J. Edwin E. Olander assumed the role of editor and business manager of Vårt hem beginning with the October 9, 1896 issue. The last known issue of Vårt hem was published March 26, 1897.