the Norwegian-American Historical Association
StavangerLaget, Canton, South Dakota. Date thought to be 1919. (Click for date discussion.) Original photo 7 1/4" h x 43 1/4" w, mounted on fiberboard. Photographer unknown. For best viewing, maximize your browser window. Click and drag or use the buttons at the bottom to view and resize.

Original photograph in the collections of the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA), Northfield, MN. Digital reproduction provided by NAHA, 2006.
For conditions of use, see the following information on the NAHA web site.

This photograph itself is not dated. The inscription, written on the upper left states:

Sponsored by the Canton Chamber of Commerce
First of the three gatherings held at
Canton, SD, June
About 5000 attended
this meeting

Further examination of the photograph and a search in the archives at the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) reveals evidence that at least some of this information may be incorrect.
  • NAHA manuscripts list the meetings of the Stavanger Lag during the period 1911-1936. There are three meetings listed for Canton, South Dakota:
    • June 25-26, 1913
    • September 3-5, 1919
    • June 1924
  • The book by Odd Lovoll, A Folk Epic: The Bygdelag in America (Northfield, MN: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 1975) states that the Stavanger Amt Laget was orgaized at Story City, Iowa in 1911.
  • The archives contains a similar Stavanger Lag photograph, taken in the same setting with the date June 25-26, 1913 in an inscription at the bottom of the photograph. This inscription also includes the name of the photographer. The inscription is white, implying the date was written on the photo negative itself (in black) and inscribed when the print was made. Hence it is very likely that this similar photograph with the 1913 inscription was dated at the time the photograph was produced, and is in fact from the 1913 meeting.
  • This would imply that the subject photograph is from 1919 or 1924. The inscription on the subject photograph is written in black ink on the surface of the print, which means the inscription was possibly made some time after the photographic print was made, and could possibly have been written many years later.
  • A factor that can confuse the dating of the photograph is that the American flag displayed in the photograph has 46 stars. This flag was in effect from July 4, 1908 to July 3, 1912. That this flag was used, however, would not preclude the photo from being taken later; i.e, it simply could have been the flag that was available for the photograph.
  • The last banner on the left for Aardal, just to the right of the US Flag, is inscribed with "17 Mai 1914" which suggests it came from an earlier celebration.
It is interesting to observe that two Norwegian flags are shown in the 1913 dated photograph, including a very large flag near in the center of the group. By contrast, there are no Norwegian flags evident in the subect photograph. This may be a reflection of the nationalistic sentiments that were quite prevalent during and following WWI. Another photograph dated 1915 shows neither an American nor Norwegian flag, only the banners from the respective home parishes in Norway. (Another photograph taken at the Stavanger Lag 1917 meeting in Valley City, ND showing the members of the Time sub-lag also shows neither national flag.)

Again, with the premise that the Stavanger Lag photograph from 1913 is correctly dated, comparison with the subject photo shows that the trees are considerably taller in the latter photograph. That would be further evidence that this photograph is from either the 1919 or 1924 meetings.

Further speculation:
  • Seated in the front row of the subject photograph is a man in a uniform which appears to be of WWI vintage. It is more probable that a person would appear in uniform in 1919, vs either 1913 or 1924.
  • The meetings in 1913 and 1924 were in June. The apparel worn by the men in the 1913 photograph appears quite summer-like: fewer suit coats, and many straw hats. The subject photo shows most men in suit coats and felt hats - perhaps more likely for a meeting in September, 1919.
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