Otto Ottosson Påhlman (1853 – 1915)

The Committed Educator

Otto Ottosson Påhlman advanced his father’s legacy and writing method, successfully establishing an institute in Copenhagen. 

The third child and eldest son of Otto Magnus Påhlman and his wife Amalia, Otto Ottosson (also known as Gösta) was born on 17 October 1853 in Bergen, Norway. He, alongside his brother, would carry forward his father’s legacy of teaching and writing. Together, they improved and fine-tuned the Påhlman writing method even further, transforming writing into “a subject that called upon the intellect.”1“Påhlman, släkt”, Riksarkivet,, accessed: 12 April 2024

In 1880, Otto Ottosson and his younger brother, John Magnus, were co-owners of the Påhlman’s writing and trading institute in Stockholm. Within the following year, the school became so popular that numerous other courses were added to the curriculum – including business and accounting – evolving it into a trade school. Its name was updated to Bröderna Påhlmans Handelsinstitut, reflecting both the diversity in subjects offered and its ownership.”2Påhlmans Handelsinstitut har satt fart på karriärer sedan 1840-talet”, Påhlmans Handelsinstitut,, accessed: 12 April 2024

The school relocated to new premises in Stockholm, in addition to short-lived branches Helsinki, Kristiania (Oslo) and Lund. Otto Ottosson travelled to ensure that these branches were running smoothly, while his brother focused on Stockholm. Business veterans such as former stock exchange manager Kurt Belfrage were employed to teach at the institute, and the brothers set up a post office and bank with their own currency and forms to further enhance practical aspects of education. 

Between 1881 and 1887, Otto Ottosson was also a teacher at the naval school and other military schools in Stockholm, where he continued to teach his father’s writing method. In 1884, he was summoned by the Danish Ministry of War to train writing teachers among the Danish army and navy’s sub-commissioned officers. He then relocated to Copenhagen in 1887, and started a branch of the Påhlmans Handelsinstitut there with a Danish state grant, serving as its director. In 1889, he received Sweden’s Royal Order of Vasa (RVO), an honour awarded to Swedish citizens for serving the society. In 1893, he was director of a life insurance joint stock company in Denmark. 

On 20 January 1891, Otto Ottosson married Eliza Bertine Johanne Krøyer, daughter of parish priest Henrik Adolf Krøyer and his wife Annatea Hedvig Caroline de Klauman, at Taarnby church. They had three children, two of whom sadly died in childhood – Otto Jon Magnus Ottosson (1891-1896), Amelie Annatea Hedevig Caroline, diocese virgin (b. 1895) and Lave Otto Ottosson (1902-1904).

On 1 December 1905, Otto Ottosson Påhlman was awarded knighthood under Sweden’s Royal Order of the North Star (RNO). He died on 19 February 1915 in Copenhagen.