Nordic Immigrants: Living in Alexandria

Living in Alexandria in 1900 and 1910

Nordic immigrants in Alexandria can be found as early as 1900 U.S. Census, although there were only two families–Leudigews and Porters. The first name of the head of the Leudigew family is illegible, but he was born in Sweden and married an American citizen named Victoria. Leudigew’s occupation is also illegible. The second Nordic immigrant listed in the 1900 U.S. Census was Vilda Porter. She was also from Sweden and reportedly did not have an occupation. The Leudigew and Porter families do not show up ten years later in the 1910 U.S. Census, and neither does any other new Nordic immigrants.

Living in Alexandria in 1920

The map to the left shows the wide variety of places in which Nordic immigrants lived in Alexandria based on the 1920 U.S. Census. Feel free to click the image to be led to an interactive map created in Google Maps.

It is evident by the increased number of Nordic immigrants in 1920 compared to the 1900 and 1910 censuses, that there was something that drove these immigrants to settle in Alexandria–the Virginia Shipping Corporation. Plentiful jobs provided by the shipyard increased migration to Alexandria. To find out more about the Virginia Shipping Corporation click here. To find out more about work opportunities provided by the Virginia Shipping Corporation click here.

Most immigrants to Alexandria clustered together in boarding houses near the Potomac River. According to a map from the official website of the City of Alexandria, wharves that were used for unloading and loading boats could be found within a few blocks of the boardinghouses in which these Nordic immigrants were living. Many lists their work locations as being the ‘VA Shipyard’, but one can assume that some Nordic immigrants found jobs along the wharves.

Frank J. Anderson and his family is particularly interesting. Anderson, a Swedish immigrant, was listed in the 1920 U.S. Census as superintendent of the shipyard. Not only did Anderson own his home, which was in the more suburban neighborhood outside of what would be known as Old Town, but also he had a lodger in addition to his family in the home.

Living in Alexandria in 1930

The map to the right shows the variety of places in which Nordic immigrants lived while residing in Alexandria only ten years later, 1930. Again, feel free to click the image to be led to an interactive map created on Google Maps.

The Virginia Shipbuilding Corporation closed its doors due to bankruptcy and lawsuits by the United States government in 1922. When comparing the two maps, it is evident that after the doors to the shipyard closed, Nordic immigrants left. In 1930, there was only one home with a Nordic lodger, compared to 1920 when there were eleven. There is an increase in the number of Nordic immigrants renting or owning property in Alexandria when one compares the 1920 and 1930 censuses. These 1930 immigrants were also new arrivals, and were not employed in the shipbuilding industry.

Further research does not provide information into where these men went after the shipyard closed. One can assume that they either went to the Midwest, which had many Nordic enclaves, or returned to their native countries. They could have also migrated to other port cities where there were jobs in shipbuilding.  Frank J. Anderson, the former superintendent of the Virginia Shipping Corporation, does not appear in the 1930 U.S. Census. No further information could be found on him or his family.

 1. Introduction 2. Why the Swedes Left 3. Why the Danes Left 4. Why the Finns Left 5. Why the Norwegians Left 6. The Virginia Shipbuilding Corporation 7. Work in Alexandria 8. Living in Alexandria 9. Conclusion 10. Bibliography

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