The Emigrants (Moberg novel)

The Emigrants

First edition
Author Vilhelm Moberg
Original title Utvandrarna
Translator Gustaf Lannestock
Country Sweden
Language Swedish
Series The Emigrants
Genre Historical novel
Publisher Bonniers (Swedish edition)
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print
Pages 444 (Swedish edition)
ISBN 0-87351-319-3
OCLC 32346955
839.73/72 20
LC Class PT9875.M5 U713 1995
Preceded by None
Followed by Unto a Good Land

The Emigrants (Swedish: Utvandrarna) is a novel by Vilhelm Moberg from 1949. It is the first part of the The Emigrants series.


The story takes place in the 1840s up to 1850. The first part of the novel describes the hardships faced by rural families in Sweden. Karl Oskar Nilsson and his wife, Kristina, own a farm in Ljuder socken in Småland. They have four children and work hard to make a living, but the poor harvests lead to famine, a catalyst for the beginnings of emigration to the United States in search of a better life. Karl Oskar and his brother Robert want to go, but Kristina doesn't want to leave her home country, knowing that she will never see the rest of their family again. But after the death of their oldest child, she accepts her husband's plans when she realizes that they are in just as much danger from their lives in Sweden as on the big sea and in a New World.

They pack up all their belongings and book passage in a group with others from their parish. The characters illustrate some of the motives that prompted people to leave Sweden in the 19th century. The travelers include:

The second part of the book tells how they board the ship in Karlshamn, and then how the life goes on during the ten weeks they spend on board – battling sea-sickness and scurvy, travelling across the Atlantic Ocean before finally reaching New York City in midsummer of 1850. The novel ends with the travellers marvelling at the technological wonders of their new home, emblematised in the almost-complete Hudson River Railroad (which would grow into the New York Central) finally opened October 3, 1851.

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