This assessment of the role of women in Swedish folklife research (or ethnology) begins with the decades before 1900 and ends with the present. Paying special attention to the Nordiska museet in Stockholm (founded 1873) and shifting between portraits of individual actors and comparative generalizations, the article demonstrates that reformist middle-class women were essential in shaping the research topics and exhibitions at the Nordiska museet and other budding institutions within the folklife sphere. Changes set in around 1910, when efforts to professionalize the museums and create a truly scientific discipline began. This entailed a masculinization in which men were hired as the superiors of women who continued working as they had before. Although a few women did earn doctorates in folklife research in the 1950s and 1960s, the first appointment of a woman as a full professor in the field took place as late as 1973, and it was not until 2000 that several women reached top positions. Subsequent developments were rapid; by 2010, the majority of the active full professors of ethnology in Sweden were women (as were their students). The question remains what this speedy feminization will mean for the field.

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