February 23, 2017



I spoke to Mormor recently and there are so many wonderful things happening at The Danish Home to celebrate their 125th anniversary! Everyone at The Danish Home is gearing up for the events and activities that will be taking place over the next several months to honor the heritage that the 12 Founding Women of The Danish Home have made culturally and historically. In fact, Mormor is on cloud nine because, as she explained it, many residents, community members and family members – both near and far – are all coming together to plan these exceptional events!


As she put it, there hasn’t been this much commotion since 2009, when Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary visited The Home. As reported in the Copenhagen Post in March of that year, Prince Frederik addressed the residents by saying:


“The Danish Home is one of the few communities in the United States to have been founded by Danish immigrants. To me, The Danish Home is but one example of a long lasting and profound affinity between the peoples of America and Denmark. It is more than just a place to live, it is a way of life. There are frequent outings to restaurants, museums and theatres – all of which allow residents to remain active members of the city.” (Read more in this post from 2013)



Danish Princess Mary greets a resident during her visit to The Danish Home of Chicago in 2009. (photo source)


It is so true, and from what I’ve read and learned about her, Emma and the other Founding Women would be so proud about their achievements and the continued integrity of The Danish Home, The Women’s Auxiliary, and The Danish Home Foundation.



The wonderful Danish Home Women’s Auxiliary



The125th festivities will kick off on April 22nd when The Danish Home Women’s Auxiliary hosts a luncheon event honoring these 12 founding women, along with the many achievements of Scandinavian women throughout time. Since women were and are so integral in The Danish Home’s existence (read more about that here, here, here, and here) it is only fitting that the keynote speaker of the event is Gitte Pedersen, founder of Genomic Expression (read more about her below).


Gitte Pedersen will be the keynote speaker on April 22nd.


Now, we have all heard the old adage ‘behind every great woman there is a great man’ (or something like that *wink*). Therefore, at this time I would also like to pay homage to Emma’s husband Jens (“James”) Thorsen, and the many, many other men throughout the past 125 years who have also played an integral role in helping The Danish Home continue its legacy!


With that said, since the kick off celebration honors righteous women, I have put together a list of a few very inspirational women, most of whom are of Scandinavian descent:


Anna Ancher (1859-1935) is considered one of Denmark’s great pictorial artists. The exhibition, A World Apart: Anna Ancher and the Skagen Art Colony was on view from February 15–May 12, 2013 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., and was the largest showing of Ancher’s work ever to be held in the United States. It explored Ancher’s place in the history of western art.  Read more about her life here.


Inge Lehmann (1888-1993) was a popular Danish seismologist and geophysicist. She was the first to thwart the age-old conception of the Earth’s inner core being molten.  Read more about her life here.


Greta Garbo (1905-1990) was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in Stockholm, Sweden, and would become a star of both silent and the talkies eras, and one of the few artists who made the transition very successfully. Read more about her life here.


Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982) Ingrid Bergman was an award winning Swedish actress, best remembered for her roles in ‘Casablanca’. A much sought after star in Hollywood during the 1940s, she had a highly successful career over the course of which she won three Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards. Read more about her life here.



Ingrid Bergman and costar Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”


Robin Carrlson (better known by her stage name, Robyn) is a Swedish electronic pop music artist as well as the initiator of the Tekla Tech Festival – a festival that promotes inclusion of women in technology. Read more here.


Sarah Sjöström is a five-time World Champion, multiple world record holder, and one of the fastest freestyle and butterfly swimmers in the world. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ‘Miss Butterfly’ won the gold medal in the 100 meter butterfly, while setting a new world record. Sjöström won her first international gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly in 2008 and broke the Swedish national records at the European Championships at the age of 14. Read more here.


Gitte Pedersen (mentioned above) was born in Brazil, grew up in Denmark and immigrated to America in 1997. Her professional life was greatly influenced by her personal life – both her parents suffered from cancer. Deeply moved by their plight, Gitte was driven to pioneer five start-up organizations in the biochemical and pharmaceutical industries. With her brother, she is now CEO and co-founder of Genomic Expression Inc., a sequence-based diagnostics company compelled to find a way to improve the chances for cancer patients with better treatment by personalizing treatment using RNA diagnostics.


The Swedish Algae Factory was founded by Sofie Allert around the idea that a certain group of algae hold unique traits allowing them to grow in low temperatures and with low light levels. Striving to produce raw materials for biofuels and reduce global warming, it is Allert’s dream to have a hundred factories by 2030. In 2014, Skype billionaire Niklas Zennström named the then 24-year-old CEO winner of the Green Mentorship Award. Read more about her accomplishments here.


Suad Ali works to break down stereotypes surrounding refugees and promote their integration into Swedish society. She has worked with UNHCR representing Sweden at the 2012 One Young World, the world’s largest forum for young leaders. Read more about her here.


There have been 48 Women who have won the Nobel Prize since its inception in 1901. Sixteen women have won the Nobel Peace Prize (including Swede Alva Myrdal in 1982), fourteen have won the Nobel Prize in Literature (including Swedes Selma Lagerlöf in 1909 and Nelly Sachs in 1966 and Norwegian Sigrid Undset in 1928), twelve have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (including Norwegian May-Britt Moser in 2004), four have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, two have won the Nobel Prize in Physics and one has won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.  Read more about these astonishing women here.



I know that Mormor and everyone one at The Danish Home is very excited to celebrate the phenomenal achievements of so many inspirational women. For more information and to RSVP please visit The Danish Home of Chicago. They would love to see you there!


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