When the family historian leaves: Per Edfeldt (1939-2018)

We all have to go in the end. Nevertheless when someone close to us departs it leaves a gap and a trace. Who was this person who left us last night?

Our family historian, Per Edfeldt (1939-2018), was also, and more importantly, a local historian, with a string of short, accessible books on record, including A Short Local History of Moss for School Use (publ. 1978; a widely read introduction to local history, drawing a vast canvas, and yet accessible and a fun read), Moss Labour Party: 75/100 Years (publ. 1980 and 2005; dedicated to an organisation close to his heart), Joys of Skiing: Moss Ski Club through 75 Years (publ. 2003), the celebrated Historical Events in Moss of 1814 (publ. 2004; an account of the way Moss made its mark on the country’s struggle for independence: it was in Per’s home town that the then-Norwegian king, Christian Fredrik, signed an accord with the invading Swedish forces, effectively abdicating and leaving Norway under Swedish jurisdiction: however, as Per noted, Christian Fredrik also made sure that Norway retained its constitution and some independence to our newly formed national assembly), and lastly A Source of Joy: Moss Labour Choir through 110 Years (publ. 2005).

As the list indicates, Per had many and varied interests. In addition to being a deputy principal at a local school, he became a member of the local government in the 1970s, and held many posts for voluntary organisations in the realms of sports, culture and history. He was crucial in shaping our present image of this town. In the 1980s and 1990s he chaired the committee that organised the writing of the important three volume history of Moss authored by noted historian Nils Johan Ringdal.

In 2003 Per received the Municipal Prize for Culture, and in 2006 the cherished Mossiana Prize.

When we last met he informed that he hadn’t stopped writing historical accounts. However, he had resorted to authoring the texts that are inscribed onto the plaques that we find on certain walls of prominent buildings in this town!

Most important for those who were close to Per is it that he was our family historian. His father was one of three brothers born to an immigrant from Sweden, an engineer with special skills in making and operating the kinds of machinery necessary to run the glass factory that had been opened in Moss. His father became a dedicated politician for the Labour party, and Per followed in his father’s tracks.

How do we know about our Swedish roots, the way the family spread out through the Scandinavian peninsula, and how voluntary work and professional interests converge to shape our present image of ourselves?

A large part of the answer can be found in Per’s legacy: his writing, his practice, his personality.

Go in peace.

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