Historical Photo Treasure

Luleå´s Town Archive regularly exhibits old photo´s from Luleå, and some of them are also displayed on their website (not in English, I´m afraid). At the moment, it´s Helmer Widlund´s collection (he was a sort of town photographer from the 30´s and on). Like this one on the left, which I find very charming, with his son posing in front of the bus to Kalix, a town about an hours drive to the north of us.

I love looking at old pictures of places I know, sometimes things are so changed it´s impossible to guess where it´s taken. Luleå has changed a lot, first there was a big fire in 1887, which wiped out a big part of town. Then there was a demolition craze in the 50´s and 60´s, where old wood houses had to give way to new, modern, very boring and soulless concrete buildings. Not just here, but all over Sweden. Unlike England, where they have (or so it seems to me) always had an interest in and taken pride in their own history, saving at least some of it, Swedes haven´t always had that sensitivity. It´s a national trait to be proud of our rationality. Progress, that´s the thing! And I suppose there are worse faults.

The town and the County Council have joined forces on a project to save and organize all the photos, negatives, and line cuts from the local newspaper Norrbottens-Kuriren, from 1920 - 1970. I noticed when they exhibited some of that work at the library, and they have also set up a blog at the newspaper´s website, where they post interesting images as they turn up.

The one on the right is cute, from a local trade fair in July 1960 (the same year mum-and-dad-in-law moved to Luleå). They are demonstrating a stroller on runners, which might have sounded like a good idea up here in the north, but I don´t think it ever caught on!


  1. "I love looking at old pictures of places I know,"

    i do, too. the changes just in 20 years or so can be astounding, and over generations... well, it's like another world.

    the photo project is a wonderful idea! a treasure for the city.

    1. Yes, I also realized how important it is in a family context when we worked on mum-in-law´s book. Her brother was a keen amateur photographer and through him there are many pictures from the 20´s, 30´s, and 40´s. After that, there is hardly anything until the 90´s, when I came into the picture! As a result, the family mythology focuses on those image-rich times, and the 70´s and 80´s are much more hazy in the collective memory. Fewer photos, fewer stories.