Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
History: Public History: M.A.
College of Liberal Arts
Peter Happel Christian
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
Akerlund, Photography, Cokato, Gust, August, Photograph
Swedish immigrant turned United States citizen August (Gust) Akerlund captured Cokato’s history through his photography from 1902-1950. Today, Akerlund’s photography studio and 14,019 negative collection are preserved due to the care of Akerlund’s family, the staff of the Cokato Museum, and the community of Cokato. Although Akerlund’s collection and studio provides a window into Cokato’s past, the few published works that mention Cokato do not utilize both Akerlund’s life and his photographs as complementary sources. This thesis is an attempt to rectify this neglect by using Akerlund’s resources (including his photographs, life story, and studio) to question the popular perception of small rural American communities like Cokato as secluded, unified, and homogeneous. In the process, this work will highlight Akerlund’s contributions to the region and enrich in our understanding of Cokato’s dynamic. In doing so, Akerlund shows how individuals, like himself, advanced urban influence on rural Cokato through their early fascination with photography, radios, automobiles, agricultural developments and industrial technology. In addition, Akerlund’s perspective and photographs both reinforce and complicate Cokato’s general identity as a primarily Northern European Protestant, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Old-Stock American ethnic and religious background. Finally, he reveals how the ideologies of Cokato’s most dominant ethnicities, classes, and religions were contested, even in victory, over the alcohol controversy.
Ellison, Johanna M., "Cokato Through August Akerlund's Lens" (2017). Culminating Projects in History. 12.