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The emigrant village in Småland - in the footsteps of Vilhelm Moberg

Utvandrarbygden in Småland is the area where many Swedes left to emigrate to the United States from the mid-19th century until the 1920s. It's also where author Vilhelm Moberg grew up and where you can find the places that inspired the novel, epic and film The Emigrants.


Vilhelm Moberg - the soldier's son who became a writer

Vilhelm Moberg was born on 20 August 1898 in Moshultamåla, in the parish of Algutsboda in Småland. He grew up as one of seven siblings in a simple soldier's village, the son of Karl Gottfrid Moberg and his wife Ida Charlotta.

During his childhood, Moberg worked on the farm and carrying wood at the Modala glassworks. For four months of the year he had the chance to attend school, where he developed a strong and passionate interest in reading and writing.

Utvandrarbygden - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår
Map of 'Mobergland' - The emigrant settlement in Småland

Emigrant settlements in Småland

Moberg's most famous work is the Emigration series from 1949-1959, which describes the emigration of 16 people from southern Småland to Minnesota in the USA in the mid-19th century. In total, around 1.3 million Swedes emigrated, including a large part of Moberg's own family.

Today you can travel around Utvandrarbygden and discover the places where Moberg grew up, where many of the emigrants lived before leaving Sweden and where the Emigration series is set. With the premiere of a new emigration film starring Gustaf Skarsgård and Lisa Carlehed approaching, these places feel more relevant than ever.

Utvandrarbygden - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår

Eight places to visit in the Emigration District

There are many interesting places to visit in Utvandrarbygden. We have selected eight places and roads that are strongly related to Vilhelm Moberg, the emigration period or the book The Emigrants. We visited most of these places during the month of November when we did our motorhome trip in Glasriket. Some places are great to visit at any time of the year, and others have more to offer if you come here in the summer months.

Utvandrarbygden - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår

1. The path of emigration

Utvandrarnas väg is a road that will take tourists past important places in Utvandrarbygden. This road can be a starting point for the journey, but it is a bit unclear how updated and well signposted it is, so our recommendation is to keep track of the places you want to see and visit.

Utvandrarbygden - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår

2. Emigration trail

If you enjoy hiking or cycling, one suggestion is to follow the Emigration Trail. This is a ten-mile-long hiking and cycling trail that takes you through Vilhem Moberg's homeland and passes many famous locations from the Emigrants.

Utvandrarbygden och utvandrarna - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår

3. Klasatorpet

Klasatorpet is the farmhouse known as 'Korpamoen', the home of Karl-Oskar and Kristina in the film 'Utvandrar'. It is located in Långasjö, south-west of Emmaboda. Exhibitions and material from the film are still there, and the croft gives a picture of how a crofting family in Småland lived a hundred years ago.

4. Dovecot

Who doesn't know Kristina from Duvemåla, from the famous musical? The village of Duvemåla, just north of Emmaboda, is where Vilhelm Moberg's grandmother was born in 1833. Both the place and the grandmother inspired the novel Kristina, which many of us know from the world of books, musicals and films.

In Duvemåla you can enjoy a coffee at the café in Rundqvistargården during the summer months. Once upon a time, four siblings lived here, who remained unmarried and lived a very frugal and hard life. It was only after their deaths that their wealth was revealed and, as they had no heirs, passed on to the General Inheritance Fund.

5. Moberg stones

The Moberg Stone was erected in 1970 at the site in Moshultamåla in the Emigration District where Vilhelm Moberg was born in 1898. The author lived here, in a simple soldier's village, for the first nine years of his life. He later described this period as the happiest in his life.

Husbilen Freedom

6. Moshultamåla old school.

Vilhelm Moberg's childhood school in Påvelsmåla was built in the 1870s in the middle of the forest. Moberg attended school here between 1906 and 1912, but only for four months a year. The young teacher, Maja Johansson, realised the importance of lending books to Vilhelm, and perhaps the foundations of his authorship were laid here. The house is said to contain memories of Moberg's early life, but it was closed when we visited in November.

Utvandrarbygden och utvandrarna - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår

Just next door is Moshult's hostel, which looks very nice and charming.

Moshults vandrarhem

7. Åkerby crossroads

Åkerby crossroads is the starting point for the emigrants in Vilhem Moberg's emigration epic. Here the group of emigrants gathered to travel together towards Karlshamn and the waiting American boat.

Utvandrarbygden och utvandrarna - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår

In 1974 the Hembygdsföreningen erected an emigration monument at the crossroads.

Utvandrarbygden och utvandrarna - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår

Here at the Åkerby crossroads, the journey towards the countryside in the west began for many. They left their homeland for the dream of freedom and salvage. Vilhelm Moberg brought them to life in his epic about the emigrants.

Utvandrarbygden - i Vilhelm Mobergs fotspår

8. House of Emigrants in Växjö

Last but not least, we have to mention the House of Emigrants in Växjö. When we were here last summer, the museum was unfortunately closed for renovation, but it has now reopened and is showing the new exhibition 'The New Land - The American Dream'. Our blog colleague From City to Beach have recently been here, please read her report.

This is a place where you can learn more about our Swedish emigration history. At the same time, of course, you can't help but think about people in other parts of the world, who today are forced to do what Swedes did in the past, to flee their country.

Where can you stay with your campervan?

If you are travelling by motorhome in Glasriket and Mobergland, you will find that there are plenty of pitches and campsites. For example, we can recommend Broakulla pitch & campsite, if you're in the vicinity of Mobergsstenen. This is a simple site on grass, but because of the fantastic treatment we will gladly come back here and highly recommend a visit.

There is electricity and a toilet and shower (with thoughtful little messages from the owners). Water can be filled at the small petrol station in Broakulla. Stina, who runs the petrol station and campsite together with her husband, greeted us with exuberant joy and immediately got into the car to light up the slightly dark place with marshals. In her petrol station you can also buy shrimp sandwiches and other goodies.

More things to see and do in the neighbourhood of Utvandrarbygden

There is of course much more to see and do in the neighbourhood of Utvandrarbygden. In Glasriket you can see glass art, visit exhibitions or maybe try to blowing glass yourself. We can also recommend visits to Lessebo hand paper mill, James Bond Museum and Granhult church.

All our top tips for holidays in Småland

Have you visited the Emigrant Village? Do you like this kind of history?

Facts about the Emigration Village in Småland

  • Landscape: Småland
  • Known for: Emigration from Sweden in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and Vilhelm Moberg's emigration epic.
  • Find here: The best way to discover the emigrant village is by car, camper van, motorbike or even bicycle. For example, starting from Växjö or Emmaboda.

Emigrants and emigrant communities in Culture

  • Roman: Book from 1949 by Vilhelm Moberg. The emigrants is the first instalment in the Emigrant series, which also includes ImmigrantsThe settlers and Last letter to Sweden.
  • Film from 1971: The Emigrants is a 1971 Swedish drama film directed by Jan Troell. The cast includes Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman.
  • Musical: Kristina from Duvemåla is a 1995 Swedish musical with music by Benny Andersson. In the original production, the main roles were played by Helen Sjöholm and Anders Ekborg.
  • From 2021 onwards: The film, which opens on Christmas Day, is directed by Erik Poppe. The main roles are played by Lisa Carlehed and Gustaf Skarsgård. Liv Ullman plays the role of Kristina.

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