6The story of the Andersson family, of Adelgatan 1b in Lund, starts in 1924. This was the year Siri and Nils Andersson moved in with their young son, Ninne, to the flat we now call the Worker’s Home. The flat consisted of two rooms and a kitchen. The second room facing the street was let out to students. This extra income was very welcome in times when it was difficult to find work and a jobseeker’s allowance was very small. The students were also responsible for the heating by keeping the tiled stove stocked with firewood.
The most authentic
The Worker’s Home is, in some respects, the most authentic home we have. It was built on the spot where it stands now in 1849 and, together with the family, we have been able to recreate the interior as they remember it. The family donated furniture, supplied photographs and recounted stories about life on Adelgatan. Kulturen chose to reflect the early 1930s in the Worker’s Home, an interesting and important time of transition. Women had won the right to vote and the class system was starting to dissolve. It was a time that carried with it a strong hope for the future. Visitors who enter the Worker’s Home will even hear the Minister of Finance, Ernst Wigforss, address the nation about the problems that come with a consumerist society; a poignant historical reference point from 1933. The family had bought the radio in 1928.
No bathroom in the apartment
In the backyard stands a brick house from 1881. In the basement lay the wash house, which, to use modern terminology, served as bathroom and laundry room for those who lived in the neighbouring houses. Despite the arrival of both electricity in 1926 and gas in 1930, a toilet – or water closet as it was known then – was never installed.
From the countryside
Nils and Siri married in 1921. Both had grown up in the countryside. Nils had done very well at school and wanted to continue his studies. As his parents could not afford this, he was forced to choose an apprenticeship in painting and decorating instead. The bookshelf is evidence itself that he continued to read a lot, displaying books by both Swedish and foreign authors.
Siri arrived in Lund when she was 16 and trained to become a seamstress after a time as a childminder. She stopped working after she married but carried on sewing, making sure the children were neatly dressed at all times. This was a time when being a housewife was considered very respectable and a sign of some affluence, but we don’t know whether Siri purposely chose to shelve her career and become a housewife. Whatever the circumstances, we do know that she had her hands full with the laundry, cleaning, ironing, cooking, sewing and so on. The man of the house, Nils in this case, did not help with the chores, as was the custom at this time.
A daughter is born
In 1930 the family expanded with the arrival of little Siv. They took back the use of the second room so they now had the whole flat at their disposal. It may seem small, but the yard and the street acted as extensions to the house and were used a lot. This is where the children played ball games and marbles, threw darts and played on the swing.
Many of our older visitors will recognise the kitchen, either from their own childhoods or from their grandparents’ homes. Details such as the sink with the cold-water tap, the kitchen cabinets clad in wood panelling, the copper pans, enamel pots and the collection of containers for flour, sugar and salt are likely to evoke memories. The family was not well-off and had to make every last penny count. But they did have their own allotment where they grew fruit and vegetables. Nils went here every day after work to tend to his crops during the growing season. Siri’s parents lived in the countryside and would occasionally provide them with fresh meat.
Working for the rent
Ninne has told of the occasions when they were late in paying rent. He or his little sister would get sent next door to Kulturen, their landlord from 1924, to ask for a deferral, an extremely embarrassing experience for them. Sometimes Nils could pay the rent in kind by carrying out some painting work instead.
The Worker’s Home allows us to get up close to the Andersson family. We can see their taste in interior decoration, what books they read, what they ate. Its homeliness makes it easy to imagine Siri sitting at the window, sewing, while Nils reads a book.
Museum apartment since 1984
Nils and Siri lived at Adelgatan 1b for over 40 years. Nils died in 1966 and Siri in 1985. Their son, Ninne, reached 84 and died in 2007. In 1984 the Worker’s Home opened as part of the museum, and as we write this, in the spring of 2021, daughter Siv is 90 years old.
This text is taken from our booklet Kulturen Open-air Museum, that you can buy in our museum shop.