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Reports of Officers
(Volume II: Page 113)

The Secretary's Report

The annual meeting of the Norwegian-American Historical Association was held at the New Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis on January 4, 1927.

The reports of officers were received, approved, and ordered placed on file.

Dr. Laurence M. Larson brought up the matter of honorary membership, suggesting that in case such membership should be established Dean Kendric Charles Babcock of the University of Illinois should be the first recipient because of his work in Scandinavian-American history. The Executive Board was asked to bring in a resolution on this matter at the dinner to be held in the evening.

The. following resolutions from the Executive Board were then read:
1. Whereas, it is the policy of this Association to give such financial support to historical research as its finances will allow, be it therefore resolved that the study of the activities of the Norwegian seamen on the Great Lakes be actively pursued and that steps be taken to secure such financial support as the project may demand.
2. Resolved, that the Norwegian-American Historical Association accepts the kind offer of St. Olaf College to provide a safe place in which the Association may deposit its archives.
3. Resolved, that the Association, wishing to secure so far as possible all that has been written and published by men and women of Norwegian birth or origin, hereby expresses the wish that all those of our people who have published books, pamphlets, articles, and the like will donate copies to the Association for its collection.

The secretary was requested to send letters of thanks to Mr. O. M. Oleson, Mr. Birger Osland, and Sir Karl Knudsen for their generous donations to the Association.

Upon motion the Board of Editors was thanked for its splendid work during the past year.

Mr. Osland moved that the president, Reverend D. G. Ristad; the vice president, Dr. Laurence M. Larson; the secretary, Professor O. A. R¿lvaag; and the treasurer, Honorable O. M. Oleson be reelected for the next term of three years. The motion was seconded by Reverend L. A. Vignes. and was carried unanimously by a rising vote.

Dr. Blegen brought up the matter of the Association holding meetings for the purpose of hearing papers worked out as studies in the history of the Norwegian-Americans. The matter was referred to the Executive Board.

Upon motion the meeting then adjourned.

At 6:30 p.m. a festive dinner was enjoyed by members and friends of the Association, with Reverend G. T. Lee acting as toastmaster. The following responded to toasts: Dr. O. E. Brandt, Mr. Osland, Reverend B. E,. Bergesen, Mr. Carl Hansen, President Ristad, Dr. Blegen, Dr. L. W. Boe, Dr. Larson, Dr. Gisle Bj¿rnstad, Dr. H. G. Stub, Judge Andreas Ueland, and Mr. Nelson. Dr. Bj¿rnstad in his talk emphasized the value of life memberships in the association, and Mr. Nelson brought greetings from the newspaper Skandinaven.

During the dinner Dr. Larson reported on behalf of the Executive Board in the matter of honorary membership and of giving recognition to Dean Babcock that such membership cannot be established without amending the charter, but that the Board unanimously recommended the adoption of the following resolution:

Resolved, by the Norwegian-American Historical Association, that in recognition of the distinguished services rendered by Dean Kendric Charles Babcock to the history of the Scandinavian element in the United States, the publications of the Association be sent to him with the compliments and best wishes of our organization.

The resolution received a unanimous vote. The meeting was thereupon adjourned.

Immediately upon the adjournment of the plenary meeting the officers just elected met and proceeded to complete the Executive Board and to elect all other officers.

To membership in the Executive Board were elected Dr. Knut Gjerset, Mr. Birger Osland, and Mr. E. G. Quamme. To the Board of Finance: Mr. Osland, Dr. T. Stabo, Dean J. J¿rgen Thompson, Mr. A. N. Rygg, Professor P. O. Holland, and Mr. E. G. Quamme; the treasurer, Mr. Oleson, serving ex officio. To the Board of Editors: Dr. Blegen, managing editor; Dr. Gjerset; Mr. Kristian Prestgard; and Dr. Larson.

The following regional vice presidents were elected: Dr. E. Nyman Figved, Boston; Consul M. E. Moe, Philadelphia; Mrs. Oakley Kissam Brown, Chicago; Professor C. Martin Alsager, Chicago; Reverend H. J. Thorpe, Milwaukee; Professor Julius E. Olson, Madison, Wisconsin; Colonel Chr. Brandt, Decorah, Iowa; Reverend G. T. Lee, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Mr. Hans Ustrud, Baltic, South Dakota; Professor Herman C. Nordlie, Moorhead, Minnesota; Mrs. Frida Bue-Homnes, Crosby, North Dakota; Mr. Gunnar Lund, Seattle, Washington; Captain S. J. Arnesen, Brooklyn, New York; and Axel Arneson, Fort Worth, Texas.

O. E. R¯LVAAG, Secretary

 
The President's Report

Pursuant to a call sent out by the temporary officers chosen at the preliminary meeting held at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, on October 6, 1925, the constitutional meeting of the Norwegian-American Historical Association was held at the Ryan Hotel, St. Paul, Minnesota, on February 3, 1926.

The temporary board of directors carried on an intensive campaign for members during the months intervening, and at the close of the St. Paul meeting the secretary reported 425 members.

The treasurer's report, covering the period up to February 1, 1926, showed a cash balance in the bank of $1279.99; and $1800.00 in the permanent fund, of which $1450.10 had been invested in interest-bearing securities.

From the reports of the secretary and treasurer to our meeting to-day you will learn what our total membership is to date, and the status of the finances of the Association. The report from the editorial committee will inform you in detail of the literary activities engaged in during the past year.

At the St. Paul meeting the Association was incorporated under the laws of the State of Minnesota, and the temporary officers were elected to serve until January 4, 1927, with the duties and powers assigned to these officers by the charter and the by-laws adopted at this meeting.

Following the constitutional meeting of the Association, the Executive Board met, organized, and appointed a Board of Finance, a Financial Secretary, a Board of Editors, three members to complete the governing board, and a number of regional vice presidents.

On May 26, 1926, the Executive Board held a meeting at the home of Mr. Kristian Prestgard in Decorah, Iowa. To the Board had come a tender through Professor Br¿gger of a gift of a number of antiquities from the people of Norway, with the request that the Norwegian-American Historical Association designate a place for their exhibition and permanent safekeeping. When this gift arrives and has been set up, appropriate exercises of grateful acceptance will undoubtedly be arranged by the proper authorities; our association should be represented on that occasion.

Concerning the disposition of this gift, the Executive Board adopted the following resolution:

"The Norwegian American Historical Association gratefully accepts the gift of the committee in Norway which now is gathering museum, articles for the Norwegian-American people, the gift to be deposited in the Norwegian American Historical Museum at Decorah, Iowa; this institution agreeing to act as custodian in perpetuity of the gift on behalf of the Norwegian people of America."

A loan of the sloop model and a large collection of pictures, exhibited at the Norwegian American centennial celebration in 1925, from the Bygdelagenes F¾llesraad, Inc., was accepted and the objects were ordered placed in the Norwegian American Historical Museum at Decorah, Iowa.

At this meeting it was also decided to order the publication in English and Norwegian of Ole Rynning's Sandf¾rdig Beretning om Amerika (1838) with a foreword and notes, an original copy of the book having been lent to our Association by Trondhjem's Videnskabsselskap through the kind offices of Ola Five, Steinkjer, Norway, a brother of our treasurer.

Approached by Professor Haldor Hansen, Chicago, with reference to his collection of Norwegian-American books and publications, the Board instructed its secretary to suggest to Mr. Hansen that he place his collection for safekeeping in the St. Olaf College archives. Whether Mr. Hansen will act on this suggestion remains to be seen.

It was also resolved to identify the Association with the activities of the American Historical Association by giving $25.00 to aid in the publication of the annual Writings in Arnerican History.

A membership campaign through workers hired on a percentage basis during the summer months was decided upon. As far as I know only one man, Mr. Ingolf Lee, entered the field, and he did well enough during the short time he worked.

The Board, while highly favoring and encouraging Professor Jacobson and others in the effort to compile a Norwegian-American bibliography, did not see its way clear to assist the work financially. It is, however, a most important undertaking, and should be supported as soon as means are available.

Finally the Board, at the suggestion of Mr. Birger Osland, requested Dr. Gjerset, with such assistance as he might be able to use, to take time to gather material for a history of the part played by Norwegian shipbuilders, sailors, and carriers in the development of the traffic on the Great Lakes. Through the generosity of Mr. Oleson and Mr. Osland the sum of $70o was provided, and Dr. Gjerset has visited the principal ports on the Great Lakes and gathered considerable information, which, when published, will add a hitherto unwritten chapter to the history of our people in America.

Proper acknowledgement of these gifts should be made by this meeting.

May I suggest in this connection that the story of Norwegian-American shipbuilding, shipping, and fishing on the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts is still unwritten. Who will do it? How can we get it done?

Some work of permanent value has been done in the past by individuals in the fields of Norwegian-American journalism, publication, the professions and public service, and the published material will be helpful when serious scholarship undertakes to interpret these phases of our people's endeavor and service. But the story of our contributions to American business, banking, industry, engineering, invention, and farming has only been touched at random and is waiting for the men and the means to be studied and recorded.

With the exception of the meeting in Decorah, the Board has not sat since its organization meeting in St. Paul eleven months ago. The work has been carried on by correspondence. More than a thousand letters have come to me since October, 1925, and just as many have gone out, not counting contributions to the press. But by this method the members of the Board have at all times kept in close touch and been able to 'work in complete harmony and mutual understanding.

Earnest efforts have been made to build up an effective regional organization. The success so far has been rather indifferent, though the secretaries have secured a mailing list of several thousand names.

The first volume of STUDIES AND RECORDS has met with general approval, not only by the members, but by a large number of other discriminating and appreciative readers, and the reviews in the press have been most favorable. This is a credit to the scholarship of the Editorial Board as well as to the contributors of the articles.

Through the friendly and intelligent cooperation of Sir Karl Knudsen, London, England, the Association has the promise of financial assistance for getting competent historical scholars in Norway to do research work there, uncovering and throwing light on the backgrounds of Norwegian immigration to the United States and Canada. Mr. Prestgard has by correspondence approached a number of societies and individuals in Norway with a request to collect old "America-letters." The results so far have been meager. With the promised assistance of Sir Karl we may hope, however, for a more active response.

This meeting may find it proper to give some expression to its appreciation of Sir Karl Knudsen's generous offer.

In retrospect we have reason to repeat the statements made by Secretary R¿lvaag in his report of last February 3. "The result of the campaign up to date is neither a matter of great pride, nor one to feel dejected over. Everything considered, the Association has done well, perhaps better than any undertaking of a similar nature that has been tried among us Norwegian Americans."

This statement represents a normal attitude toward the Association and toward the public. We may, perhaps, say that at the close of the first year we had nothing but honest promises to offer; this year we are able to meet, feeling that we have begun to redeem some of the promises we have made. The two volumes of historical material already sent out, the assurance of the Editorial Board that material for another volume of STUDIES AND RECORDS is at hand, and that a large chapter dealing for the first time with Norwegian-American navigation on the Great Lakes is in the making, should give the Association the comfortable assurance of being a going concern.

And yet, these are only beginnings. We have just put down the first stone in the foundation. We have the vision of a fine structure, but the building of it has just started. We need all the enthusiasm, all the faith, all the endurance and patience, that we, together, can muster to complete the structure and make it worthy of its important service. It may be that we have not yet fully realized the size of the task or the ramifications of the undertaking. And if we have the enthusiasm, faith, and endurance, have we scholarship with a vision and a spirit to write worthily the Norwegian saga in America? We have undertaken to produce more than the dry facts of our immigrant history in the New Normandy; we have undertaken to draw living, pulsating pictures of the life, the aspirations, the ideals, the contributions of our race to a new civilization. It is the living men and women, the Abrahams, Isaacs, and Jacobs of our immigrant history and their deeds, that we mean to establish in their far reaching influences upon American life. Can we do it? I believe we can, because I believe we should.

But our enthusiasm and our vision must reckon with things as they are, not our dreams of them. The Executive Board and the working committees fully realize that in order to accomplish our purpose, we must have not only able scholars, but we must have money. But to get the necessary means, we must make our organization effective. Our mission is first to create a desire for this thing, a desire strong enough so that the people will want it and be willing to pay for it, and then we must be able to go to the people and show them the quality of our products.

Publicity and personal correspondence will help, and our Norwegian press has been wonderful in the support that it have given us; but we must go one step further, for we must remember that the question is not only to get the work done, but to get a very important part of it done soon. We must find some way of employing a salaried field secretary, a man who can increase the effectiveness of our organization, especially the regional end of it, and who at the same time by personal contact with individuals and groups can make friends and supporters, solicit memberships, and raise money by asking the people who have it to spare, to give it to our permanent fund, or as Mr. Oleson and Mr. Osland have done, give it to meet the expenses of original research work. I cannot estimate what a competent field secretary would cost, but I want to put this question before you: Can we find fifty men in the United States and Canada with faith enough in such a plan to be willing to give $100 a piece for one year as an experiment ? I will be one of the fifty to risk the $100 if we can employ the right sort of man.

It will be the duty of this meeting to elect a president, a vice president, a secretary, and a treasurer to serve during the next three year period. Anyone having helpful suggestions or criticisms should bring them before this meeting today.

While this initial year of our organization has brought with it a great amount of work, the work has been made pleasant by the splendid cooperation of all the members of the Board and the working committees, and I desire here at the close of my term of office to thank these men for their unselfish support and for their kind forbearance.

D. G. RISTAD, President

 
The Treasurer's Report

The following statement of November 16, 1926, from the assistant treasurer was sent to members of the Executive Board for their information:

RECEIPTS
Life memberships:  $3,200.00
Associate and sustaining memberships:  $2,874. 10
Interest on investments:  $85.97

Total:  $6,160.07

INVESTMENTS, SHOWING COST
$1500 South Bay 5s   --   $1,340.00
$500 Australia 5s   --   $495.00
$500 Lone Star 6s   --   $500.00
$500 Southern Cities 6s   --   $500.00

Total cost:  $2,835.00

EXPENSES

Publications:
STUDIES AND RECORDS   --   $914.15
Flora article   --   $4.50
Ole Rynning book   --   $8.85

Total   --   $ 927.50

Traveling and Transportation
(for members of the Executive Board to meetings, etc.)   --   $ 440.93
Stenographic and other assistance   --   $72.59
Telephone and telegraph   --   $14. 10
Postage and insurance   --   $185.21
Stationery and office supplies   --   $256.85
General expenses:
including incorporation expenses of $2.55 and
commission of $42.05 to Ingolf Lee for
securing 35 associate and 3 sustaining memberships   --   $45.05

Exchange on checks   --   $1.83

Total   --   $ 1,944.06
Total investments and expenses   --   $4,779.06
Cash on hand   --   $1,381.01
To be invested   --   $450.97
For expenses   --   $930.04

SPECIAL PIONEER SAILORS' RESEARCH FUND

Donations   --   $700.00
Expended   --   $587.00
On hand   --   $113.00

BIRGER OSLAND, Assistant Treasurer

 
Report of the Managing Editor

In its first year of editorial activity the Association has brought out two publications: STUDIES AND RECORDS, volume 1; and Ole Rynning's True Account of America. The first appeared last summer and the second came from the press late in December.

Volume 1 of STUDIES AND RECORDS contains 175 pages and consists of six historical articles and documents, in addition to an article on the aims and plans of the Association by the President, the certificate of incorporation and the by-laws of the Association, and a membership list totaling 566 names. The historical section of the volume is opened by a study of "Health Conditions and the Practice of Medicine Among the Early Norwegian Settlers, 1825-1865," by Dr. Knut Gjerset of Luther College and Dr. Ludwig Hektoen of the University of Chicago; this {s followed by a study of "The Norwegian Quakers of 1825," by Professor Henry J. Cadbury of Harvard University; and this in turn by two documents, "Bishop Jacob Neumann's Word of Admonition to the Peasants," translated and edited by Gunnar J. Malmin; and Reiersen's account of the "Norwegians, in the West in 1844," translated by the managing editor. The volume includes also the reminiscences of the pioneer editor Carl Fredrik Solberg, reported by Albert O. Barton of Madison, Wisconsin, and a translation by Professor Karen Larsen of St. Olaf College of a vivid description of an emigrant voyage in the fifties by the captain of a Norwegian emigrant packet. Fifteen hundred copies of this volume were printed.

The editors were fortunate in securing the cooperation of the various contributors named. In the editing an attempt has been made to apply the best standards of present-day historical scholarship. The publication has been extensively reviewed in newspapers and in magazines.

The publication brought out in December is of a different type. It makes available for the public one of the most important books published in the earlier period of Norwegian immigration to the United States -- Ole Rynning's True Account of America. This book, originally published at Christiania in 1838, had a great influence upon the emigration from Norway, and it has an added interest for us because of the fascinating if tragic story which gives it its setting. We have brought the book out in the Norwegian original, taken from a photostatic copy supplied us from Norway. With the original is printed an English translation, and prefaced to these texts is an historical introduction that tells the story of Ole Rynning and his "America book." The publication is brought out as volume 1 of a series bearing the general title Travel and Description Series. The edition of the Rynning volume numbered fifteen hundred copies.

Thus during the first year of editorial activity the Association has established two series of publications, both of which are capable of extensive development.

Plans now under consideration by the Board involve the following steps:
1. Publication next summer of volume 2 of STUDIES AND RECORDS.
2. Publication next fall of volume 2 in the Travel and Description Series.
3. Publication before the end of 1927, if feasible, of volume I in a projected series of Monographs.
4. The launching of an America Letters Series, of which, however, the first volume could not be expected before 1928 at the earliest.
5. The encouragement of work looking toward a volume in a Bibliographical Series.

The publication of volume 2 of STUDIES AND RECORDS has already been authorized by the Association and much work has been given to its preparation. It will maintain the standards set up in volume 1 and it will probably be of even greater interest to the rank and file of the Association's membership. A number of the foremost scholars and writers among the Norwegian-Americans have contributed to the volume and the range of subject-matter will be considerably wider than that in volume 1.

The precise character of volume 2 in the Travel and Description Series has not yet been determined. In all probability, however, there will be brought together in one volume two or three of the interesting accounts of America written by the Norwegian immigrants and travelers in the United States after Ole Rynning's book appeared. There is a wealth of such material available for publication, and it is believed that these books will be of great interest not only to the Association's membership but to the American public and particularly to those who are interested in the records of nineteenth-century American history. Translations of two "America books" are under way at present and plans have been made for the translation of yet others.

The Association's series of monographs will be launched with Dr. Gjerset's book on the contributions of Norwegian-Americans to the development of shipping on the Great Lakes. Aided financially by Mr. O. M. Oleson of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Mr. Birger Osland of Chicago, Dr. Gjerset has already carried on an extensive investigation of this subject. Such studies as he is carrying forward are too elaborate for publication in the Association's STUDIES AND RECORDS, and it is therefore proposed that a series of historical monographs be started. The Association will be. fortunate if Dr. Gjerset's study can be used as the first in this series. Dr. Gjerset has not completed his study and it is not known at present when it will be completed. The Board proposes, however, to begin its editorial work on the volume as soon as it is available, and if possible it will be published before the end of the year 1927.

Important steps have been taken looking toward the collection of "America letters" in Norway and it is believed that plans can soon be worked out for a volume of such letters. Mr. Prestgard has been designated by the Board to have immediate charge of the collecting of "America letters" and he reports progress in the working out of adequate plans toward cooperative collecting in Norway. Mr. S. C. Hammer, an archivist and well known author of Oslo, Norway, will act as the Association's representative in collecting in Norway not only "America letters" but also newspaper materials and other types of historical sources. The services of Mr. Hammer are made available through the generosity of Sir Karl Knudsen of London, England, who has voluntarily offered to pay Mr. Hammer a monthly stipend for this work. This arrangement opens up possibilities for collection and publication of far-reaching importance in the field cultivated by the Association. This at present is among the projected volumes for publication in 1928. Probably such a volume or series of volumes would be of very great interest; certainly it would be a genuine historical service to assemble "America letters" and to make them available in print.

A bibliographical series has been a desideratum from the point of view of the Board of Editors from the beginning of its labors. It is important to know precisely what has been done; to list publications in the great field of Norwegian-Americana; and to arrange and systematize our bibliographical data. Probably one portion of the field can be isolated for a first volume in the projected series. One of the subjects given consideration thus far is that of Norwegian-American travel and description. No publication in this sphere is contemplated for 1927, but plans might be worked out by the Board for a publication in 1928 or 1929.

To sum up the situation, plans are made for the publication of STUDIES AND RECORDS, volume 2, and for a second volume in the Travel and Description Series, for 1927. It is hoped also that Dr. Gjerset's history of Norwegian-Americans on the Great Lakes may be brought out as a separate publication in 1927. These three enterprises will probably put a very heavy burden upon the time and energy of the Board, but it is believed that the Association ought to support an aggressive editorial policy, and no apology is made for proposing three publications in 1927.

Publication plans for 1928 do not need to be settled now, but it may be noted that the following possibilities are open. The STUDIES AND RECORDS and Travel and Description Series may be carried each to its third volume. Possibly a volume of "America letters" may be brought out. If the finances of the Association permit, an attempt might be made to bring out four publications in that year, the fourth being a bibliographical volume.

It may be said in closing that the carrying through of the editorial program for the past year has involved strenuous work, and since it has been contributed work it has had to be fitted in with the busy round of professional duties attaching to one's regular position. The proposed program will call for even greater contributions of time to the editorial work of the Association. The time and energy are freely given as a labor amoris. The Association has a great opportunity before it. To a very considerable extent that opportunity would be missed if the publications of the Association were not of standard quality. It is the purpose of the Board to bring out publications of high scholarly worth. Every effort will be made to find and publish interesting and important new materials, and to handle these materials in accordance with approved scientific methods. The earnest, efficient, and wholehearted cooperation of the officers of the Association has been of the first importance in encouraging the members of the Board thus far. The support of the members of the Association and the cordial cooperation of Norwegian-American scholars have likewise aided measurably in the carrying forward of the work. The Board will continue the work successfully only if it continues to find such cooperation, support, and encouragement.

THEODORE C. BLEGEN, Managing Editor

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