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Colorizing Remarkable Women - Anna Sandström, Swedish feminist and reform pedagogue

Anna Maria Carolina Sandström, Colorization by Claudia D'Souza - The Photo Alchemist
Anna Maria Carolina Sandström, Colorization by Claudia D'Souza - The Photo Alchemist

Anna Maria Carolina Sandström born 3 September 1854, Stockholm and passed 26 May 1931, in Stockholm; was a Swedish feminist, reform pedagogue and a pioneer within the educational system of her country. She is referred to as the leading reform pedagogue within female education in Sweden in the late 19th century.

Anna Sandström was the offspring of the administrator Carl Eric Sandström and Anna Erica Hallström. After her father's early death, she was brought up as a foster-child of Colonel Hjalmar Hagberg. Because of her foster fathers profession, she followed him around the country on his military posts, and she was therefore often forced to interrupt her education. She was educated at Statens normalskola för flickor and Högre lärarinneseminariet in Stockholm, where she graduated as a teacher in 1874. By the time of her graduation, females had very recently been given the right to attend university in Sweden, but she was not given the opportunity to attend university herself.

She was employed as a teacher at the girls' schools Åhlinska skolan from 1874 to 1882 and then at Södermalms högre läroanstalt för flickor in Stockholm from 1881 to 1883. She was not comfortable in the girls' school environment and she was critical of the education they normally provided their students. She continued to educate herself and studied history, French and Swedish literature and Latin as an autodidact. She also studied the publications of reforming pedagogues.

In 1880, Sandström debuted in the public educational debate with her article Gifva våra flickskolor berättigade anledningar till missnöje? (Do our Girl's schools give us just cause for discontent?) in the feminist publication Tidskrift för hemmet created by Sophie Adlersparre. Under the male pseudonym of Uffe, she criticized stiff and formalized education and its strict focus on languages. French was the traditional main distinction of an educated female academic while Latin had the same position for a male.

original portrait

In 1882, she published Realism i undervisning eller Språkkunskap och bildning under the same pseudonym, which aroused great attention. This is seen as the starting point which connected the various critical reform pedagogues of the late 19th century in Sweden and united them to an educational reform. The author was assumed to be a respected male academic, and by referring to "Uffe" (which was in fact herself), Sandström founded the a literary discussion group named Uffe-kretsen (Uffe Circle) of educational reformers, active in 1883-1892. Leading members were Fredrique Runquist, Fridtjuv Berg, Hjalmar Berg, Sigfrid Almquist, Sofi Almquist and Nils Lagerstedt. The group founded two co-education schools, published radical articles and teaching books, arranged international school meetings with similar groups in Denmark and Norway, founded the Pedagogiska biblioteket (Pedagogical Library) as well as the Pedagogiska sällskapet (The Pedagogue Society), which replaced the Uffe-kretsen in 1892.