Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Samuel Craver


The present study focused on the educational and career experiences of four selected Swedish immigrant women at North Park College in Chicago from 1900-1920. There is a gap in the extant literature with regard to the Swedish immigrant women experiences, and this study attempted to shed some light on this fascinating topic.The study examined the lives of three selected Swedish immigrant women students at the College and their lives afterwards as missionaries in China. It also examined the life of Lena Sahlstrom, a faculty member at North Park College during the same period. The four women were exceptional individuals, each in her own way a pioneer. Hilma Johnson studied business for one year at North Park College before becoming the Covenant Church's first woman missionary to China in 1901, a commitment she maintained for 40 years. Hilda Rodberg was the first female graduate of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Nursing School in 1900, and she became a missionary in China for over thirty years. Victoria Welter was the first woman to graduate from North Park College's Seminary Department in 1903, after which she, too, left for China to serve as a missionary, where she married John Sjoquist, a medical missionary. Welter was the only one of the four to marry, and after the death of her husband in 1917 she returned to Chicago to complete her children's formal education.Caroline "Lena" Sahlstrom was the first female faculty member at North Park College. She was a teacher in the Primary Department and the Music Department, and she also served as the Dean of Women during part of her long tenure at North Park College. Her contributions to the school and the students were impressive, and she was a committed educator of her time.Each of the four women valued education and religion, and each was influenced in various ways by their experiences at North Park College. Hilma Johnson, Hilda Rodberg, and Victoria Welter chose professional careers as missionaries in China where they ministered to many people through teaching and health care. Influenced by her educational and religious background, Lena Sahlstrom chose to join the faculty at North Park College where her years of service and various roles impacted the lives of many students. While economic advancement was not a goal for any of the four, they all chose professional careers and lives of commitment that differed from the traditional roles filled by most women of their day. All four were role models who made a difference in many peoples lives.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Education Commons