Childhood

Märta Birgit Nilsson was born on May 17, 1918 in the parish of Västra Karups in southern Sweden. At her christening, she is said to have drowned out the sound of both the priest and the organ. Birgit had no siblings but she was a well-liked friend and schoolmate. She helped with all the work on her family farm, which her father hoped she one day would take over.

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Birgit in the 1930´s. Private photo.

In 1920 Nils P Svensson took over the family farm in Svenstad. He moved there with his wife Justina and daughter Birgit, who was then 2 years old. The farm had been in the family since the 1700’s. They lived there together with the farmhand, Otto and summer help Karin, who both were counted as family members. It was a simple childhood without electricity or running water. All water for the household was brought in from a well in the yard. The house was warmed by wood-burning stoves and evening light came from kerosene lamps. Conveniences came at last to the farm in the 1930’s. Electricity was installed and Nils acquired a milking machine. Birgit helped with the farm chores. They included sorting out beets, planting and harvesting potatoes, haying, milking cows, in addition to all the work with the other farm animals and the household itself. There was a lot of song and music in the home during Birgit’s childhood. She liked singing and always wanted to learn more. When there were guests, Birgit sang and played for them. Both Nils and Justina were proud to show off their daughter’s musical talent