According to Poul Anderson, the donor and translater of the letters, apparently Peter Kallesoe, a sailor, left Denmark to seek his fortune in the United States, his wife and children to join him later. Family tradition says that he became involved in contraband running, was caught, and died in prison. Not knowing of his death, his wife Line and children arrived in the United States, and encountered the poverty which she describes in the letters. On the voyage to the United States, the ship's mate, named Anderson, fell in love with Line's daughter Techla, and eventually married her, becoming the donor's ancestor.
Two letters from Line Kallesoe, a Danish immigrant in Philadelphia, to her sister Emma in Denmark, discuss Line and her children's poverty after the death of her husband.
Line Kallesoe Correspondence, 1866, Archives Center, National Museum of American History