Since Norwegian Americans have often taken an active role in their communities, much material has been collected by state and county historical societies. Church bodies and colleges founded by Norwegian Americans have also created large archival collections. The archives of NAHA, however, are the only collection devoted entirely to the story of this immigrant group, and they probably contain the largest and most comprehensive collection of Norwegian American records in the world.
There are over 1700 collections within the NAHA archives. These vary in size from a single item to dozens of filing boxes. They include manuscripts, photographs, clippings, pamphlets, and official documents. Some large collections, like the papers of O. E. Rølvaag have been thoroughly indexed. Special collections include the Rowberg File, a collection of about 200,000 biographical and obituary articles from newspapers and magazines, as well as numerous congregational and family histories. Although the archives does not actively collect official Norwegian records, it does possess emigration records from 1867 to about 1900 from four major Norwegian ports.
Archives are usually thought of as preserving unpublished materials; but the NAHA archives do collect books, periodicals, and newspapers published by or about Norwegian Americans. NAHA also has many publications about Norway and the other Scandinavian countries. Among these is a collection of bygdebøker, histories of local Norwegian communities that often contain material of importance to genealogists. These materials are incorporated into the collection of the St. Olaf College Library.
The archives welcomes scheduled visits from researchers. We also provide some help to those who send queries by mail or e-mail. Please consult the fee schedule found elsewhere on this site. We invite you to visit us and to make use of our holdings.
Gary De Krey
The Ship, "Viking"