The Nordic Africa Institute

Emmaus-Björkå Archives


The Emmaus-Björkå association was formed in February 1965 through the merging of the groups Emmaus “Young Rag-and-bone Men” (Emmaus unga lumpsamlare) of Lund and Lissma. They together moved their operations to Björkå, where they had jointly bought the premises of the vacant glassworks Björkå in the village of Åkvarn, found in what was then the municipality of Älghult, Småland, Sweden. The activities carried by the association involved collecting clothes, shoes, trinkets and furniture, as is still the case today. Earnings were generated through flea markets, and from roughly the year 2000 and onwards through sales of clothes. Sorted clothes, pressed into large, transportable bales were also channeled as humanitarian aid through churches during the early years. In 1971, when Emmaus Björkå had become economically independent, the association started to support liberation movements in Africa and other civil society groups in developing countries. The staff of Emmaus Björkå lived more or less as a collective up until around 1977. The association received a small contribution for the first time by SIDA in 1971, and it is a member of Emmaus International.

Between 1965-1991 Björkå was the main locus of the association, where all significant production and decision making was performed. Branches were set up in Knäred, 1970 (which was moved to Fredriksdal/Bialitt 1974), in Malmö, 1983 and Halmstad, 1992. Emmaus Gothenburg, which had been an independent association, became a branch of Emmaus-Björkå in 1970. The various branches were occupied with collection and sales, and from 1985 they also sorted clothes. Around 1987 the operations and importance of the branches had grown to the extent that the organization was re-structured, and executive committees were established at all local branches.

Below the various abbreviations of the local branches are listed, which were put in use from around 1990, when all branches were given the same status as that of Emmaus-Björkå:

Emmaus Björkå Björkå (EBB) including retail store in Växjö.
Emmaus Björkå Göteborg (EBG) with “Presscentralen” (PC från 1990.
Emmaus Björkå Fredriksdal (EBF)
Emmaus Björkå Malmö (EBM)
Emmaus Björkå Halmstad (EBH)
The central administration is called the Joint Unit (Gemensamma enheten, EBGE)

From around the year 2001 some of these units were merged, and new abbreviations for the units were implemented:
Emmaus Björkå Småland = Björkå and Växjö, since 2004 also the retail store in Oskarshamn
Emmaus Björkå Skåne = Fredriksdal and Malmö
The Joint Unit (EBGE), Emmaus Björkå Göteborg (EBG) and Emmaus Björkå Halmstad (EBH) has remained intact.

The archives consist of documents that pertain to the operations of the whole organisation, as well as documents pertaining specifically to the local activities in the village of Björkå up until 1994, with a few exceptions. The central administration was moved to Gothenburg in 1994, and these archives do not contain documents from any of the other local branches.

The archives also contain documents from the association Emmaus Young Rag-and-Bone Men (Emmaus unga lumpsamlare) in Stockholm and related branches between 1962-1965.

The 4-groups (4-grupperna) is a denomination for the four collection groups that informally cooperated up until the national organization, Practical Solidarity (Praktisk solidaritet) was created by these groups in 1989. The 4 groups in question were the Emmaus branches of Stockholm, Sundsvall, Björkå and another solidarity organization called the Bread and the Fishes (Brödet och Fiskarna).

The national organisation Practical Solidarity was started with the aim of coordinating the groups’ contacts with common partner and receiver organisations in the South and SIDA. Another goal was to coordinate and ameliorate the sorting, sales, study and information activities of the different groups. The organisation’s operations during the latter half of the nineties became to a higher degree focused on coordinating shipments and contacts with partners in Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Western Sahara, as well as with SIDA. Since 2004 the member groups consist of Emmaus Björkå and Emmaus Stockholm, the Bread and the Fishes, and the Gävleborg Aid Group (Gävleborgs biståndsgrupp). Former members included Emmaus Sundsvall, who seceded, the Örebro Aid Group (Örebro biståndsgrupp) which was dismantled in the 1990’s, and the Värmland Collection Group (Insamlingsgruppen Värmland), which went bankrupt in 2004.

Documents that pertain to the Southern African Liberation Movement consist of information on campaigns, correspondence from/with various liberation movement actors such as FRELIMO, MPLA, SWAPO, ZANU-PF, and the ANC. A comprehensive archival list can be accessed in Swedish below.


Emmaus Björkå Archival List Pdf, 188.3 kB, opens in new window.


Region- och stadsarkivet
Box 2154
403 13 Göteborg
Besöksadress: Otterhällegatan 5
Tfn: 031-701 50 00 (vx), 031-701 50 38 (direkt)
Fax: 031-13 09 96
website :

Archive extent, ref. code, country, period and keywords.





Emmaus-Björkå FRELIMO MPLA SWAPO ZANU-PF ANC solidarity movement clothes correspondence