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A Migation of Skills
By Kenneth Bjørk (Volume XIV: Page 1)

The story of the Norwegian engineers in America is a short but vital chapter in the larger story of immigration. The Atlantic migration {1} involved millions of Europeans who were recruited in the main from the peasantry and the industrial proletariat of the Old World, emigrants who, having crossed the Atlantic, settled on the fertile lands of the New World or supplied the labor needed in a rapidly expanding industrial life. The engineers who migrated from Norway to America were, by contrast, few in number and their contribution consisted of applying on this continent the technical skills acquired in the schools of Europe. The story of these men therefore involves a migration of skills in response to the needs of American society.

Though it began in the 1860's, the migration of Norwegian engineers was of little importance before 1879 and it can be said to have ended in 1929, thus covering in all a period of only about fifty years. But the period thus covered was a half century of dynamic change, when our resources were developed in a manner without precedent and our technology altered by an amazing succession of discoveries. It was a period that witnessed the mechanization of agriculture, a revolution in the field of transportation, the growth of giant industrial plants, and the application of new sources of power to the wheels of production. It was a period, too, when the conquest of a continent, begun much earlier, was carried to completion, when vast fortunes were amassed by men of vision and determination, and when great cities grew in response to the needs of commerce and industry. It was, viewed from any angle, a period that profoundly altered our national way of living and thinking and left a heritage of unquestioned material benefits.

In the feverish activity that accompanied these events, Yankee inventive genius, quickened by the demands of American life, was supported by the disciplined skills of the trained engineer, foreign as well as native. America, traditionally on the alert for skills, drew to her shores many of Europe's most talented engineers. Not least among these were the young men from Norway, graduates either of the technical schools of the homeland or of others on the continent. Some were destined to make bold new contributions in their chosen field of activity; others, often no less able, worked brilliantly but with little glory at their varied assignments; while still others successfully moved over into the related field of business management. Whatever they may have accomplished as individuals, as a group the Norwegian engineers left an unmistakable imprint on their adopted country, an imprint which it is the purpose of this study to investigate.

II

Our story goes back in time to the eighteenth century, when a brilliant series of innovations so profoundly altered the economic and social life of England that historians were later to apply to them the name "industrial revolution." Though the transition is frequently made to seem too abrupt, what the industrial revolution did -- broadly speaking -- was to apply the slowly-accumulated knowledge of science to common economic pursuits and thus to bring about the industrial life and peculiar form of civilization that we know. Specifically, it substituted the machine for human labor; applied steam and, later, oil and electricity to move the machine; and stimulated the growth of an already well-advanced factory system of production. It also increased the output of iron and steel and replaced charcoal with coke as the fuel used in smelting. It promoted the development of canals and improved highways, the railway locomotive, and the iron steamboat. It also brought about the mass production of cheap staple products, and established modern industrial capitalism and countless social changes.

It is wise to think of the industrial revolution as having roots that reach far into the past. It is equally wise to think of it as an evolutionary thing that has never ceased. From the familiar changes in the textile and metallurgical industries, the perfection of the steam engine, and the revolution in farming, transportation, and communication, the story moves on to include the production of precision tools, improvements in mining, the discovery of the Bessemer and open-hearth methods of steel making, and the coming of a host of new industries. Among the new industrial developments several have been outstanding in recent years -- electricity, petroleum, the motor industry, and chemistry.

The men who invented the spinning and weaving machines of the eighteenth century and changed the technology of the metal industry -- even Watt of steam engine fame -- were not engineers in the modern sense, despite their inventive genius and general technical skill. The later phases of the industrial revolution, however, were made possible by engineers and by technically trained men of lower rank. One recognized spokesman states that the industrial revolution was "essentially an engineering revolution. During the following century [the nineteenth] engineering and its allied arts became the basis of western civilization." {2} In the eighteenth century engineering was identified with war operations; only late in that epoch did civil engineering become distinct from the military, and the nineteenth century saw its development into an honored profession. Craftsmen and classroom mathematicians were replaced as technical leaders by engineers; training of engineers became a recognized part of the educational function; and societies were formed to protect the interests of men engaged in engineering work. In 1818 the Institution of Civil Engineers was formed in England; its charter, issued ten years later, defined the new profession as one preoccupied with the "art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man, as the means of production and of traffic in states." The engineers were thus concerned with "the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts, canals, river navigation and docks for internal intercourse and exchange, and in the construction of ports, harbours, moles, breakwaters and lighthouses, and in the art of navigation by artificial power for the purpose of commerce, and in the construction and adaptation of machinery, and in the drainage of cities and towns."

The increased specialization of economic life and the complexities of production in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries led to many branchings from the profession of civil engineering. Thus mining and mechanical engineering soon became separate fields, and before the nineteenth century had passed, sanitary engineering had attained both respectability and independence. Electrical engineering grew out of the invention of the electric generator and similar equipment, and following close behind were chemical, automotive, and aeronautical engineering. The close relationship of engineering and industry led to the development of a highly specialized branch of industrial engineering. Engineering, as a product of the industrial revolution, gave it direction by becoming an applied science with many branches.

III

That the new techniques, so successful in England, should spread to the continent of Europe, particularly in the years after the defeat of Napoleon, was, of course, inevitable; but the extent to which they altered traditional ways of living varied in the different states. In Norway the industrial revolution took place about the middle of the nineteenth century, and it can be said that its progress, while limited, was fairly rapid and its influence great. {3} The work of Frederik Stang as the energetic first minister of the interior in Norway, during the period 1846-56, helped usher in a new era for his country. {4}

It is interesting to note that in 1845 Norway had but three little textile mills; in addition to these there were a few brick kilns and rope factories using no machinery. An additional number of iron and copper works and sawmills operated in the old tradition. An eloquent testimony of the spirit of the time is revealed in the fact that Norway had 82 tobacco factories, 53 breweries, and 1,387 distilleries! Her population was in the neighborhood of 1,300,000, of which only about 160,000 lived in the towns or cities. Of the urban group most of the workers were artisans or servants. Norway was a distinctly nonindustrial country with a population that was overwhelmingly rural. {5}

This condition, however, could not for long remain unaffected by influences from abroad. In 1845 two young men, natives of Christiania, set out from Manchester for Norway, each with a group of spinning masters and foremen. By the next year both had established spinning mills in the Christiania district, while a third enterpriser had started a mill near Bergen. Several years later an interesting venture was begun by Halvor Schou, who started a cotton mill near Christiania and shortly thereafter acquired still another. Schou, who introduced the steam engine in his mills, produced a cotton fabric of a quality equal to products imported from abroad. In the sixties, following other ventures in the manufacturing field, the Aker River at Christiania was thoroughly industrialized for a considerable distance, one plant along its course employing as many as four hundred workers. Despite the predominantly limited operations of these plants, they had a marked effect on Norwegian economy, promoting, among other things, commercial banking and an extensive marketing network. The new factory owner, who as a rule lived in the country where his plant was located, came to consider himself the representative of a new era; he was regarded by others as a technical leader in production and financial circles, whose ways contrasted sharply with those of the rich and respectable city merchant. With this growth in importance of the factory and the factory owner, there came a corresponding growth in the industrial proletariat. The factory system, with all its attendant advantages and evils, had come to Norway to stay. {6}

The industrial revolution came not only in the form of the factory, with its power-driven machinery, but also as a series of radical changes in transportation and communication. It is significant that between 1820 and 1854 the Norwegian government spent no more than a total of 5,000,000 crowns on roads. {7} Between 1854 and 1886 an average of about 1,000,000 crowns was spent annually for the same purpose. The change was due in no small measure to the work of a military engineer, Christian Vilhelm Bergh, who was brought into the new department of the interior in 1849. Later made director of highways, Bergh planned a number of new routes and rebuilt others, eliminating steep grades. These roads, including some daring and excellent bridges, won for Norway a reputation in Europe as the home of good mountain high-ways -- a reputation that was enhanced by the work of Thomas Bennett in introducing regular travel service about the country. {8}

Steamboats appeared in the extensive coastal traffic of the country as early as 1827, but it was not until the seventies that steam seriously challenged the sail and oar. This retarded development was caused by no real opposition to the steamboat; all, in fact, recognized it as vital and perhaps inevitable. The reason for its slow adoption was not lack of public interest, but lack of capital. The early significance of the steam engine in coastal travel derived from the role that it played, between 1827 and 1870, in making the Norwegians machine-minded. We are told that it "made an overwhelming impression, not only on women and children, but also on grown seafolk who had been around and seen a bit of the world --Yes, perhaps especially on the latter, for they understood better than others what a revolution the steam engine signified." {9} After 1870 the steamboat played a role in transportation the importance of which can hardly be overemphasized.

While the steamboat met with no real opposition in Norway, the reception given the locomotive and railroad was at first not enthusiastic. The difficult terrain of the country and the scattered nature of its population caused many to think that railroad construction would never give benefits commensurate with costs. Nevertheless, Norway was a pioneer in railroad building in north Europe. A government commission studied the problem of railroads and recommended in 1848 that a line be built between Christiania and Eidsvold. After some delay, the Norwegian parliament (Storting) accepted the offer of a British firm to build a railroad with a telegraph line along its entire length and to provide all necessary equipment and rolling stock. The work of construction was completed in 1854. {10} Norway, ahead of her neighbor to the east, thus began in the middle fifties to reckon time in minutes. Several other lines connecting major cities were soon built, and in 1865 a tieup was effected with the Swedish railroads and thence with the continent. While it cannot be said that the country was thoroughly knit together by rail, the locomotive quickened the tempo of Norwegian life and served as another reminder that the machine had come to the Far North. {11}

Warmer than the reception given the railroad was the favor gained by the electric telegraph. The Norwegian government quickly dropped its plans for an "optical telegraph" line, and followed the advice of Carsten Tank Nielsen by adopting a comprehensive system of electromagnetic lines. The first unit in this plan, {12} between Christiania and Drammen, was opened for service on January 1, 1855, and the system's growth thereafter was rapid and well received. By 1870 even the remotest part of the country was only seconds from the capital, and the Norwegians soon boasted of having the world's longest telegraph lines in ratio to population. The cable, following close on the heels of the telegraph, linked the country with Denmark in 1867 and with Scotland one year later. {13}

Hardly less important, in considering the adoption of new techniques, was the introduction of a uniform postal rate in 1854; in 1878 the postal service became a part of the international system. The metric system of measurements was adopted by law in 1875, about the same time that decimal divisions for the monetary system were introduced in the national mint. {14}

These and other innovations combined with economic activities of old standing, some of which dated back hundreds of years. {15} In the lowlands of southern and eastern Norway and in the area of the Trondhjemfjord, vast stretches of timber led to an early development of forestry and the export of lumber. The repeal of British and Dutch navigation laws in the middle of the nineteenth century proved a great boon to the Norwegian timber industry. Closely related to this were paper, pulp, and cellulose production. The first mill for the manufacture of paper dates from about 1680, but the modern paper-making machine was introduced only in 1838, and manufacturing in the modern sense began in the early sixties -- after a beginning had been made in the production of pulp. The output of cellulose produced from wood began in the following decade. Mining, which dates from the early sixteen hundreds, was the oldest export industry of the country, the silver works at Kongsberg and the copper works at Røros being familiar to the student of seventeenth-century Norway. Iron mining also led to the creation of many ironworks in various parts of the land. Other metals, such as nickel and chrome, came into prominence at a later date, Norwegian nickel, for example, leading the world output between 1870 and 1877. Closely connected with mining was the foundry industry, which also got its start in the seventeenth century and which, despite lack of native materials, is still a thriving activity. Dependent in the nineteenth century on England and other countries for coal and even for semi-finished goods, this industry produced a wide variety of products, including cast-iron stoves, propellers, other ship parts, and engineering articles. To these industries may also be added fishing, the preparation of fish products, shipping, and shipbuilding -- all of which were affected by the technical changes of the new day. Waterpower as a source of electricity and the present important chemical industries belong to a later period. {16}

Besides introducing much that was new, and stimulating more that was old, in Norway's economic life, the industrial revolution also had a profound effect upon the social structure of the country. It has already been noted that a new factory-owning type of businessman had come into being and that a new industrial proletariat had appeared on the national scene. It should be added that Norway after 1846 witnessed the almost phenomenal growth of a strong new middle class. While it is true that there was a middle class long before 1846, in some places powerful out of all proportion to its numbers, it was then but a small part of the total population; it had been, in the words of a Norwegian historian, a kind of "putty between the other classes of society." This situation was changed by the industrial revolution, which, by adding new elements to it, made the middle class both extensive and vigorous, In Norway it came to consist of the following:

Poor members of the bureaucracy and other academic groups that, socially considered, could not live on a level suited to their profession, of normal-school graduates and other teachers, of public and private functionaries, of small businessmen, country tradesmen and shopkeepers, of small master craftsmen, skippers, shipmates, and boatbuilders, of well-to-do fishermen and men in many other economic pursuits. Owners and farmers of the moderate-sized farms in the country belong in the same economic classification, but they were so closely tied up with the other farmers (bønder) in class feeling and economic interests that it would be wrong to separate them from the farmer class. {17}

It is unnecessary to suggest that this middle-class group came to be more important in the coastal towns than in the country's interior; particularly if the well-to-do farmer element is excluded from consideration. {18} It is from this middle-class group that most of the engineers came.

IV

Wherever the industrial revolution went it stimulated a desire for increased technical education. The earliest models of the now familiar technical institutes were, however, the trade schools of France, the Ecole d'arts et metiers that Napoleon set up in a number of cities and the Ecole centrale des arts et manufactures erected in Paris by private initiative in 1829. Polytechnic schools began to appear on the continent as early as 1806 (Prague), and even in the eighteenth century Berlin had its Bauakademie. In the German states of the nineteenth century the development of technical education was rapid. The Bau and Gewerbe academies gave way to polytechnic institutes that in turn developed into the familiar Technische Hochschulen of recent times. Closer to Norway the Chalmer's Institute (Chalmerska institutet) was founded at Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1829; in the same year Denmark's Polytechnic Institute (Polytekniske læreanstalt) was established in Copenhagen. Finland's first technical school was begun at Helsingfors in 1847. {19}

Norway was in some respects ahead of the rest of Europe in technical training. Kongsberg had a mining school or academy as early as 1759. {20} In Bergen, where the handicrafts were prized, a drawing (tegne) school was set up in 1772, and in 1818 the Royal Norwegian Arts and Handicrafts School (Den kgl. norske kunst og håndverksskole) began its work in Christiania, the capital. Similar public drawing schools soon sprang up in other towns. But it was the industrial changes of the mid-nineteenth century that led to an agitation for genuine technical training such as was already available in the other states of Europe. {21}

The sharp upswing in Norway's trade and industry after 1846 caused the practical men who served with Stang to think in terms of technical training. Army and navy officers were also interested because of their concern for national defense. Plans were accordingly drawn up for a school under the supervision o£ the navy and closely associated with the machine shops of the navy yard at Horten. These were adopted by the Storting in 1854 and an appropriation of slightly more than one thousand dollars a year was voted for maintenance. The school opened in September, 1855, with twenty students.

It is clear from the records that the Horten Technical School (Hortens tekniske skole) was intended to stress theoretical fundamentals. Primarily it trained machine technicians, both naval and civilian, but many of the Horten graduates have achieved -- with no further training -- recognition in the other engineering lines. The subjects taught were basic enough -- mathematics, mechanics, drawing, machine study, physics, chemistry (after 1870), and English. A week was devoted to surveying. An entrance examination tested the applicant's knowledge of arithmetic, reading, and writing! In practice, however, entrance was far from easy for the civilian students; preference was given to a small group of men with extensive shop experience, most of them of mature age. The period of training consisted of three semesters, thus requiring residence of a year and a half. During the last semester, if the student were both willing and able to follow, he studied differential and integral calculus. One of the great advantages at Horten was, of course, free access to the navy's machine shops, where purely theoretical teachings could be tested by careful observation.

Among the graduates of Horten were such distinguished American engineers as Edwin Ruud, Tinius Olsen, Carl Barth, and Henrik V. von Zernikow Loss -- all of them alike in their amazing grasp of mathematical and mechanical fundamentals. They were, to use the words of their beloved teacher, Balthazar Schnitler, brilliant demonstrations that it is better for a school to be "so adjusted as to turn out a small number of technicians with enough knowledge to stand on their own feet, than a great number who cannot." He continues:

Our school has assumed a peculiar position among the country's technical schools; it has a quite heavy program crowded into a short period of time. This has had the result that a student, to keep up, must be more mature than the one who enrolls at our schools giving long courses. . . . The students' average age is between 20 and 22 years. . . . Our school's reputation rests in large part on the fact that it offers the possibility of a theoretical foundation to older people who earlier have worked in shops and factories, some at home and some in America, and for whom the four-year course as a rule is impossible. {22}

After the successful launching of Horten Technical School, Norway was no longer entirely dependent for technical leadership on military engineers or men educated abroad. But the men of Horten were trained along mechanical lines, particularly in problems relating to the sea; and there was still need in the land for comprehensive training in the several other branches of engineering and architecture. In recognition of this fact, a proposal was made before the Storting in 1857 that two schools -- a "school of industry" and a polytechnic institute -- should be set up in Christiania. Nothing, however, came of this proposal.

The first technical school of higher rank was founded at Trondhjem in 1870, thanks to a legacy left by a Thomas Angell to that northern city. Plans worked out by a local committee and approved by the Storting in 1869 called for a three-year technical course, with one year of training common to all students and two years of specialized study. The Trondhjem Technical School (Trondhjems tekniske læreanstalt) which resulted opened its doors in November of the following year. Until the school year 1890-91, the Trondhjem school had three lines of specialized study and after that date, four. These were architecture, civil engineering (bygningsfag), mechanical engineering, and chemistry. In addition to the customary three years, students not uncommonly chose to remain a fourth year for study in a second major field. Thus a student graduating after three years with a degree in mechanical engineering might elect to remain a fourth year to acquire competence also in, say, the chemical line. The Trondhjem Technical School (familiarly called by its graduates T.T.L.) pitched its work on a surprisingly high level and counted some of the world's leading engineers among its former students. Such names as Singstad, Giaver, Cappelen Smith, and Grønningsæter suggest the quality of its men and the thoroughness of its training. It is interesting to note that Captain Christian Torber Hegge Geelmuyden, who had acquired a considerable reputation as the first head of the Horten school, left in 1870 to serve as first director at Trondhjem.

Just as the city of Trondhjem took the initiative in starting its famous school, so the other leading cities of Norway, not without considerable rivalry, sought to keep pace with the trend toward technical education. The national government was as yet indifferent to the country's needs in this field. When in 1867 Professor H. Christie submitted a plan for a modestly endowed polytechnic institute, together with a three-year technical elementary school, the Storting, after some delay, rejected the proposal. The idea was revived in altered form in 1871, when the Christiania Savings Bank, at the suggestion of Professor Aschehoug, decided to give eighty thousand crowns toward buildings and equipment for a technical school in the capital. Finally approved, the plans resulted in the Christiania Technical School (Kristianias tekniske skole), which began class work in August, 1873. Also a municipal project, the new school resembled in many respects the one at Trondhjem. It sought "to impart the necessary elementary knowledge to young men who have decided upon a technical career or who wish to prepare themselves for entrance into an educational establishment of a higher technical level." The Christiania school offered at first a three-year course common to all students; in 1876 the period of education was lengthened to four years and provision was made for specialized training in mechanical and civil engineering in the fourth year; after 1890 it also had a department to prepare chemical engineers. Though somewhat crude and elementary by modern standards, this school enjoyed for a long time a reputation second only to that of the Trondhjem Technical School. The names Hoff, Mohn, and Berle are a measure of the men it attracted and the training it imparted. {23}

A third municipal school opened its doors in 1875. This was the Bergen Technical School (Bergens tekniske skole), which owed its origin very largely to the initiative of the Bergen Handicrafts Society (Håndverksforening) in 1870. What the society wanted was a practical trade school that would help preserve and foster the handicrafts of the old Hansa city. After considerable discussion in Bergen, the Storting gave its consent to a technical Sunday and evening school as well as a technical elementary school. As at Christiania, this school, whose detailed plans were approved in 1873, was to give the necessary elementary training to youngsters both for vocational activity and for entrance into an engineering college or similar institution. In general it followed the early plan of Christie, having a three-year course of training common to all students. After 1890, in accordance with a new plan, the Bergen school offered special departments in mechanics and chemistry, thus going the way of the Christiania school. The list of its distinguished graduates, while shorter than that of the schools at Trondhjem and Christiania, includes Aus and a number of other prominent American engineers.

It is interesting to examine the courses required at one of the three leading schools. The Bergen Technical School under its plan of 1890 required that all students take algebra and descriptive geometry, physics, inorganic chemistry, simple mechanics and machine study, structural principles, designing, mechanical and chemical "technology," elements of mineralogy, surveying, heating and ventilation, electrotechnics, Norwegian, bookkeeping and correspondence. The students specializing in mechanics and chemistry naturally took advanced courses in these fields as well as differential and integral calculus. Students entering the school were required to be at least fifteen years old and confirmed in the state church; furthermore they must have received in the middle-school examination at least an average grade (middelkarakter) in mathematics or have passed an entrance examination of a character similar to the one required for completion of the intermediary school. In addition to mathematics the school required a comprehensive knowledge of Norwegian and the ability to translate a German letter not previously seen. {24}

Those who worked for the beginnings of technical education in Norway had in mind elementary training. It soon became clear, however, that the students who enrolled in the schools were generally more mature and better grounded in theory than it was anticipated they would be. In fact they sought nothing less than an engineering education. The schools, as it has been observed, soon pitched their training on a higher level than the original plans called for. In this manner they came to "serve as makeshifts for a technical high school without being quite able to fill this role, and at the same time to serve as higher technical middle schools. The schools, in other words, had as a task the gratifying requirement of training for all the technical positions in industry and technical work generally. A large part of the schools' students aimed at an engineering education and supplemented their training at foreign, especially German, technical high schools." {25}

In addition to the schools already mentioned and those of other European countries, one other institution sent a considerable number of its graduates to America, though usually after continuation study in Germany. This was the Mechanical Trade School at Porsgrund (Skiensfjordens mekaniske fagskole), an experiment in technical education that was begun in 1884. The Porsgrund school, since 1901 a state institution, offered a two-year course aiming to provide young men with a sound theoretical study as well as practical training in the machine shop. Its graduates have frequently distinguished themselves in mechanical and electrical lines in America, though some have gone over to other branches of engineering. {26}

It reflects no discredit on the schools at Horten, Trondhjem, Christiania, and Bergen to say that technical education in Norway was in many respects unsatisfactory until the country had a state institution on an academic level as high as the German technical high school, which had the same rank as a university and required the artium examination as a prerequisite for entrance. The need for a state institution was recognized as early as 1833, but the creation of the schools discussed above tended to lessen the demand for such an undertaking. In 1880 a plan for a polytechnic institute was brought forward; after being repeatedly presented to the Storting, it was abandoned in 1890. The proposal that was ultimately accepted was submitted to the Storting in 1900 and accepted in the same year.

It was considered wise to locate the new school at Trondhjem, which was not only the cultural center of a great period in Norway's past but, since it was located near the heart of the country's mining district, had aspirations for an industrial future. Economic considerations postponed the actual founding of the technical high school and caused some changes in the plans of 1900, but finally on September 15, 1910, the school was opened to a hundred students. Complete courses were offered in architecture, chemistry, civil, electrical, mechanical, and mining engineering, and naval architecture. Students seeking admission not only had to take artium, but they were also expected to have had a year's shop experience. Not needing to concern itself with basic courses, the high school could and did concentrate on four years of intensive engineering training. Growing rapidly with the expanding industrial life of Norway after 1910 and adding specialized departments as they were needed, the new school not only improved the quality of technical training in the country but raised engineering in public esteem to a level comparable to theology, law, medicine, the humanities, and the pure sciences -- professions and fields to which the national university devoted itself. {27}

A total of 3,919 students enrolled at Norway's Technical High School (Norges tekniske høiskole) between 1910 and { 1935. } {28} In the twenty-five years 2,096 engineers and 286 architects were graduated. {29} Up to 1925 it was estimated that about 400 of the graduates did engineering work outside Norway, many of them in North America. The graduates of the new school also assumed the leading engineering role in Norway. To them and their colleagues from similar institutions abroad rightfully belongs the title engineer -- a term used with greater caution and respect in Europe than in the New World.

Since the Technical High School replaced the older schools at Trondhjem, Bergen, and Christiania in the training of engineers, the entire plan and scope of the latter were changed by the Storting in 1911. Thereafter they were schools for the preparation of technicians, as distinguished from engineers. In their reorganized form they offered two years of sound training and sought to prepare men as master bricklayers and builders, technical assistants in the state and municipal administrations, draftsmen, contractors, building, shop, and factory foremen, directors of the smaller electric works, shipyards, and other industrial projects -- in general those technical positions that lie somewhere between engineering on the one hand and labor on the other. The schools (tekniske mellemskoler) {30} thus continued to play an important though quite altered role in the twentieth-century life of Norway, {31} but their graduates, unlike those of an earlier day and those of the Technical High School, were to play a minor part in the life of the New World.

V

The students who availed themselves of the opportunities embodied in the technical schools came from that body of Norwegian society which might be called a blending of the old middle class and the new -- the merchants, well-to-do farmers, traders, shipowners, shopkeepers, professional men, and lesser bureaucrats who belonged to the Norway of the early nineteenth century, and the factory owners, brokers, and clerks created by the industrial revolution. To be sure, there were sons of a few prominent state officials and of aristocratic merchants, and there were some whose parents were middle class only by courtesy, but the students came for the most part from the towns and cities of the coastal area and from farms with a surplus sufficient to support a promising boy in college.

A glance at the records {32} shows that of the seven engineers known to have left for America in the 1860's one was the son of a court chamberlain, another of a country gentleman, and a third of a wholesale merchant; two were sons of judges, one claimed a skilled workman for father, and the seventh a farmer who was also owner of a small machine shop. Of the twenty-two known to have left Norway for the New World in 1880 the parentage of fifteen is traceable. The record reads: five farmers, one newspaper publisher, one broker, one engineer, one merchant, one teacher, two tailors, one machinist, one lawyer, and a ship's captain. Ten years later the situation remained relatively unchanged. In 1890 at least twenty-one graduates left for America. Of these, fathers of five were farmers, three were shipowners and one a shipbuilder; two were schoolmen, one a cabinetmaker, one an engineer, one a merchant, one a lawyer, one a pastor, one a state forester, one a sheriff, one a railway official, one a factory owner, and the last is unknown. The records for 1900, 1910, and 1920 reveal a like situation and they indicate a surprisingly mild response to the growth of social democracy in Norway insofar as this in turn led to increased educational opportunity for the lower classes.

Until the establishment of the high school at Trondhjem, the number who enrolled each year in the technical schools of Norway was extremely small, and the students enjoyed little of the glamor that is usually associated with university life. They may well have been, as Johan Bojer has described them, "a motley crowd of young men of all ages from seventeen to thirty or more." He characterizes them as:

Students of the everlasting type, sent here by their parents as a last resource, for -- "he can always be an engineer"; young sparks who paid more attention to their toilet than their books, and hoped to "get through somehow" without troubling to work; and stiff youths of soldierly bearing, who had been ploughed for the Army, but who likewise could "always be engineers." There were peasant-lads who had crammed themselves through their Intermediate at a spurt, and now wore the College cap above their rough grey homespun, and dreamed of getting through in no time, and turning into great men with starched cuffs and pince-nez. There were pale young enthusiasts, too, who would probably end as actors; and there were quondam actors, killed by the critics, but still sufficiently alive, it seemed, "to be engineers.'' {33}

And there were others like Peer Holm, who dreamed of being chief engineer because the engineers of the new society were "priests of a sort, albeit they did not preach nor pray." They would take their chances with the others, "some to fall by sunstroke in Africa, or be murdered by natives in China." Some would "become mining kings in the mountains of Peru, or heads of great factories in Siberia, thousands of miles from home and friends." Many would go to the New World and be lost -- perhaps for a matter of years, perhaps forever. And a few would remain at home, "with a post on the State railways, to sit in an office and watch their salaries mount by increments of £ 12 every fifth year."

Not only was the technical course a much shorter and less expensive one than those requiring atrium and a university training, and therefore likely to attract a motley group of students, but it must be added that prior to the twentieth century engineering itself could claim little of the prestige and respect that attached to theology, law, medicine, or the academic profession. Literature is a fair barometer of the public attitude, and it is interesting to note that before Bjørnson completed his play "The New System" (Der ny system) in 1879 there was hardly a character in all Norwegian literature who was an engineer. {34} Hans Kampe, in "The New System," is an engineer and the son of an engineer and he symbolizes both the frankness of America and Bjørnson's determination to "live in truth." Kampe alone carries the banner of truth on a stage overcrowded with engineers; he has lived in the New World and realizes with Bjørnson that appearances have no final value. It is not strange that Bjørnson, with his abounding faith in America, should use an engineer returned from the United States as a symbol of progress. What is really surprising is that other Norwegian writers were so slow to recognize in the engineer, as in the doctor, a figure sufficiently identified with modern civilization to play a leading role in fiction. In Ibsen's "Little Eyolf" {35} Engineer Borgheim is interested in "a great piece of road-making -- up in the north," but Borgheim is no great character. John Gabriel Borkman, {36} while not an engineer, is intoxicated with the spirit of the new industry. To him metal sings an unmistakable tune and steamships "weave a network of fellowship all around the world." Looking back on his tragic life he hears the hum of factories that might have been his. "The night shift is on-- so they are working night and day. . . . The wheels are whirling and the bands are flashing-round and round and round." The Master Builder, who immediately comes to mind, is rather a reflection of Ibsen's own artistic yearnings than the architect that he seems at first to be. The engineer, with few exceptions, was not yet considered worthy of playing a great role in the Norwegian drama. In this, as in other respects, literature only reflected the moods of society.

Not until the twentieth century was there a tendency to use the engineer freely for fictional purposes, and even then he did not appear in an entirely favorable light. With Hamsun, for example, the engineer represents that materialistic or "American" tendency which he fears and abhors and does not understand. With Bojer the situation is different. His novels bristle with engineers, inventors, and scientists, who come neatly off his pen. {37} Granted that they serve, as do all his novels, as instruments of a single idea, they are handled with sympathy and understanding. He knows what it is to stand by a machine as its master -- " mind and soul and directing will" -- and to gather the power to work miracles. With Bojer the modern technician is a priest in his way," or, better, "a descendant of old Prometheus." Peer Holm, in The Great Hunger, soon becomes sick of the miracles of science, but he is a giant in the earth while his strength lasts.

The engineer's position was unusual in one other respect. The building of highways and railroads and the use of the steamboat, for example, not only provided markets for farm produce and linked the towns with the farms up the valley, but they also brought the bønder into a new and strange money economy. Factories that came with the industrial revolution also offered employment to those who sought it. Farms that for centuries had existed under a system of near self-sufficiency and barter found themselves suddenly mortgaged and not infrequently in the hands of strangers. The uprooting of the rural population that followed the introduction of the new economy caused a migration -- again greatly facilitated by steamboat, highway, and railroad -- down the valley to the city -- and beyond. The movement of the country population to the city and the migration to America were but two phases of the same broad tendency in nineteenth-century Norway. This breakup of the self-contained economy of the century has been carefully studied by Ingrid Gaustad Semmingsen in its relationship to emigration; {38} the part played by the engineer, however, is worthy of special mention.

However important his part in the story of Norwegian migration to America, the engineer himself did not respond to the same urges to leave his homeland. Many of the generalizations that can be made for the causes of emigration as a whole do not apply directly to him. Certainly the usual social and religious motives are missing. {39} The engineers were sturdy representatives of the middle classes and, apart from their purely professional desire for employment, they had no reason to leave a homeland that they loved and which in turn was generally kind to their group. The Norwegians responded quickly to the call from abroad for technical help, but they were in no sense unique; engineers also left the British Isles, Germany, Switzerland, and the other Scandinavian countries, and all of these national groups distinguished themselves in the New World. It is only when we consider the percentage of graduates who left for America that the Norwegian figures are at all significant and we suspect motivations somewhat different from those in the general migration story.

VI

According to one recent publication a total of 1,013 students were graduated from the Horten Technical School. {40} Of this number 211, or about 21 per cent, migrated to America. {41} When the record of the Trondhjem Technical School is considered, the results are slightly more impressive. A total of 1290 regular students between 1870 and 1915 is recorded in the school's publication of 1916. Of these no less than 350, or about 27 per cent, were drawn to America. A supplement to this volume lists an additional 867 regular Trondhjem students, 138 of whom left for the United States or Canada. {42} After 1910 the technical schools of lower rank (Trondhjem,Bergen, and Christiania) sent a much smaller percentage of their graduates to America, largely because of the rapid industrial developments in Norway after that date. {43} Of the other schools either no records have been published {44} or, as in the case of the Bergen Technical School, they are unreliable. {45} From the figures, however inadequate, it is nevertheless clear that something like one-fourth of the students of Norway's technical schools, from the time of the founding of the Horten institution to the erection of the high at Trondhjem, made their way to the New World. During the years of heaviest migration the ratio sometimes high as forty, fifty, and even sixty per cent.

Just as the records of the schools are unsatisfactory, so too the figures dealing with the year by-year migration to America. The official United States records list collectively Scandinavian, but not the Norwegian, architects and engineers who entered the country after 1897. The following table gives this information: {46}

YEAR 
1897 
1898 
1899 
1900 
1901 
1902 
1903 
1904 
1905 
1906 
1907 
1908 
1909 
1910 
1911 
1912 
1913 
1914 
1915 
1916 
1917 
1918 
PERSONS   
49 
64 
56 
53 
76 
145 
392 
300 
209 
332 
280 
187 
144 
198 
225 
176 
167 
177 
203 
261 
259 
100 
YEAR 
1919 
1920 
1921 
1922 
1923 
1924 
1925 
1926 
1927 
1928 
1929 
1930 
1931 
1932 
1933 
1934 
1935 
1936 
1937 
1938 
1939 
1940 
PERSONS
124
261
252
136
417
725
315
401
368
209
190
79
33
12
11
8
10
9
29
26
23
35

These figures include architects and engineers from the Scandinavian countries as one unit, and omit those who went Canada. They begin too late (1897) and the years given represent fiscal years ending June 30. Recognizing these short comings, the writer has compiled a year-by-year record, taken various sources, of Norwegian engineers and architects left for the United States and Canada between 1860 and 1933.

YEAR 
1860 
1865 
1868 
1869 
1871 
1873 
1875 
1876 
1877 
1878 
1879 
1880 
1881 
1882 
1883 
1884 
1885 
1886 
1887 
1888 
1889 
1890 
1891 
1892 
1893 
1894 
1895 
1896 
1897 
1898 
1899 
1900 
1901 
PERSONS   










17 
22 
22 
17 
19 



27 
15 
11 
21 

17 
18 






17 
35
YEAR 
1902 
1903 
1904 
1905 
1906 
1907 
1908 
1909 
1910 
1911 
1912 
1913 
1914 
1915 
1916 
1917 
1918 
1919 
1920 
1921 
1922 
1923 
1924 
1925 
1926 
1927 
1928 
1929 
1930 
1931 
1932 
1933 
 
PERSONS
67
49
34
46
43
31
12
30
22
20
11
14
7
4
4
4
3
8
8
11
11
32
33
15
32
25
8
2
2
1
0
1
 

This tabulation compiled by the present writer, because of the nature of the records available, is admittedly incomplete. Nevertheless, it gives a clearer and more accurate picture of the migration of Norwegian skills than does the information in the government reports, for the official statistics, as is indicated in the analysis presented above, leave much to be desired.

Not a few of the Norwegian engineers and architects returned to the mother country during the twentieth century. Again we must fall back on government records for the Scandinavians as a whole; these tell the statistical story of those who departed from our shores between 1908 and 1940: {47}

YEAR 
1908 
1909 
1910 
1911 
1912 
1913 
1914 
1915 
1916 
1917 
1918 
1919 
1920 
1921 
1922 
1923 
PERSONS   
61  
23 
34 
40 
72 
59 
70 
53 
69 
52 
33 
67 
65 
54 
48 
30 
YEAR 
1925 
1926 
1927 
1928 
1929 
1930 
1931 
1932 
1933 
1934 
1935 
1936 
1937 
1938 
1939 
1940 
PERSONS
48
31
48
107
81
63
71
43
18
20
32
32
36
32
40
22

For the period 1925-39 records are available for the emigrant aliens of all races who, in departing, listed Norway as the country of intended permanent residence. Fortunately the departing aliens are listed by professions, and it is reasonable to suppose that most of those who went to Norway were Norwegian-born. The record reads: {48}

YEAR 
1925 
1926 
1927 
1928 
1929 
1930 
1 931 
1932
PERSONS   
15 

22 
47 

16 
27 
17
YEAR 
1933 
1934 
1935 
1936 
1937 
1938 
1939 

PERSONS
7
9
9
8
14
10
9

VII

The figures given above, especially those compiled by the writer, will be seen to have a close relationship to the business cycle. Men looking for technical employment naturally respond to the rhythm of industrial life. {49} Graduates of Norway's technical schools appear as a mere trickle until the late 1870's, when Europe and America were both recovering from the depression that followed the panic of 1873. Another long depression followed the crisis of 1893 in America, and during this period the migration of Norwegian engineers naturally declined. The longest depression of all -- that which followed 1929 -- also caused a sharp dropping off in numbers. Short depressions followed the more or less acute setbacks of 1884, 1907, and 1914, and our figures are not unresponsive to these minor disturbances. The periods of prosperity attracted many engineers. Thus the years 1879-93, years of great industrial activity and rising prices, are seen to have been a time of fairly heavy migration except for the falling off after 1883. The period from 1900 to 1907, after the depression following 1893, was the time of heaviest migration, and the recovery after 1908 was rapid. The years 1914-18 were good years economically in Norway and the uncertainties created by war were a factor in keeping young men at home. By 1923 American prosperity had come out of the reaction of 1921-22, and the industrial activity of the twenties naturally promised much to the young engineer. Unemployent, however, began in technical ranks even before 1929 and the figures bear out the discouragement that followed the crisis of that year.

Though not without profit, an attempt to synchronize the migration of engineers closely with the short-term ups and downs of American and Norwegian economic life would be misleading. In addition to the relatively brief periods of alternating prosperity and depression on both sides of the Atlantic, one finds that in Norway the last quarter of the nineteenth century and, in some respects, the first quarter of the twentieth, were generally unfavorable to the engineering profession because of the failure of the industrial revolution to go substantially beyond the preliminary stages of industrialization and transportation development. A fully developed factory system, for example, had to await the utilization of water power, since Norway had no coal. Lack of capital, the geography of the country, and the attitude of the government also tended to retard economic development. The result was that as late as 1925 a keen British observer and student was able to state:

The latest mechanical inventions, the most recent scientific discoveries, are within her knowledge, ready for immediate application. The remarkable delay in her industrial development is due, not to backwardness or ignorance, but to natural causes. Having no coal, she has had to wait till the advance of electrical science rendered possible the utilization of her practically inexhaustible water resources, not as a direct motive force, but to create electrical power. . . . In spite of remarkable engineering skill, the development of railways in Norway has been and must be slow and local in its effects. The country as a whole is too difficult and the obstacles too formidable for a rapid growth of railway communication. . . . Now, even on roads whose steepness, narrowness, and unsatisfactory surface seem eminently unsuited to such modern modes of progression, motor-cars running to a fixed time-table are everywhere to be found. {50}

The vigorous utilization of Norway's natural resources, mineral as well as water power, while more rapid after 1905 than during the period of union with Sweden, was still not sufficient to cause the country to use all available skills developed in her technical schools or acquired on the continent.

The American economic situation after 1878 was, by contrast, one of general expansion and growth until 1929, despite temporary setbacks that resulted from crises or panics. One American economist has summed up the period after the Civil War as "one of rapid settlement of the public domain, eager appropriation and exploitation of natural resources, extension of railroad facilities across the continent and expansion of industries on a national scale. . . . The expanding demand for raw materials and the development of improved transportation facilities opened ever larger markets for the physical resources of the country, and these were developed on a scale and with a rapidity never before equalled." {51}

The development of the natural resources of a great continent was to call forth the best efforts of a youthful nation. Land, made readily available by the Homestead Act of 1862, appealed no less to our old American stock than to the land-hungry peasants of Europe. Giant forests fell before the axes and saws of an army of lumberjacks who tripled and nearly quadrupled our lumber output between 1869 and 1909. More impressive still was the record of our mines, which in 1882 made the United States the leading copper-producing country. The coal output jumped from 13,000,000 tons in 1860 to 670,000,000 tons in 1918; and that of iron ore from over 3,000,000 long tons in 1870 to 75,000,000 tons in 1917. Other minerals and great wells of petroleum and natural gas opened up in the New World opportunities undreamed of in the Old.

Essential for marketing the products of the land, transportation facilities kept pace with the exploitation of our resources. Railroad building, interrupted by the panic of 1873, was resumed after 1878, and the period of the eighties was one of rapid growth, especially in the West and Middle West. Though the following decade witnessed a decline in construction, the Great Northern Railroad was completed to Seattle in 1893, and after 1898 growth was again rapid. On the eve of the First World War the United States had more railroad mileage than all of Europe. The improvement of technology was hardly less remarkable. Cheap steel made possible the improvement not only of rails but also of bridges, general equipment, cars, and wheels. The air brake, refrigeration, signaling methods, and ever more powerful locomotives vied with one another in revolutionizing long-distance travel in America.

In and about the cities the electric railway proved successful. After 1884, when it was introduced in Kansas City, the overhead trolley gradually came into universal use. By the turn of the century, too, such cities as Chicago, New York, and Boston had elevated railways, and interurban transportation was using electricity. Boston took the lead in subway construction in 1898 and New York began its now elaborate underground network of tracks in 1900.

In the twentieth century the automobile, airplane, and super-highway revolutionized even further the whole mode of transportation in America. From 1877, when George B. Seldon took out a patent on an automobile of a sort, tinkering mechanics about the country worked on horseless carriages, and by 1920 there were nearly a million ears in use. Not only passengers but enormous quantities of freight as well were to be carried overland by motor in the twenties, thirties, and forties of the present century. The airplane, like the automobile, got its start in Europe, but it was Samuel Langley and the Wright Brothers who in 1902 proved the possibilities of motor travel in the air. Glenn Curtiss flew across the Hudson in 1911 and in 1918 the airplane was used for carrying mail. What happened in the automobile and airplane fields in the years that followed is common knowledge, as is the remarkable story of highway construction.

The Civil War gave a strong impetus to the building of telegraph lines; in 1862 a line was completed across the continent and development thereafter was rapid. As early as 1866 Cyrus W. Field laid the first successful cable across the Atlantic; cables in all directions were soon to follow. In the middle seventies Alexander Graham Bell and Asa Gray applied for patents on the telephone. By 1912 there were nearly 9,000,000 telephones in America. The wireless, invented in 1895, was introduced about 1900 and in 1913 it was in transoceanic service. Since the First World War the radio has largely replaced the code wireless and has found its way into nearly every home. The typewriter, too, figures in the story of communications since 1876, when the first one was placed on the market. Printing, publishing, advertising and -- on the technical side -- the linotype and monotype were also vital in this development.

One of the truly remarkable features of nineteenth-century America was the growth in population. The prevalence of large families, progress in medicine, and a heavy immigration of Europeans caused the numbers within our boundaries to quadruple between 1850 and 1910. Together with this increase in population went a movement from the country to the city and a subsequent growth of cities. Whereas in 1860 only 16.1 per cent of the people lived in cities of over 8,000 population, in 1930 about 49 per cent of the people lived in such centers. This increase in population created a large domestic market for American products at the same time that it provided a large labor force to run the machines of a rapidly developing manufacturing activity.

While it is true that America had a well-established factory system even before 1850, its period of most rapid expansion came after 1865, when manufacturing developed into the largest single contributor to the national income. In the decades that followed the Civil War, America -- rich in resources, with good transportation and communication facilities, a great domestic market and an ample labor supply -- ceased to be a nation relying chiefly on commerce and agriculture and became instead a manufacturing country. By the turn of the century we were an industrial state, and even earlier, in 1894, we held first place among the nations in the value of manufactured goods. One significant trend was toward the large corporation with enormous individual plants practicing the economies of large-scale production. The best technological improvements and the greatest possible use of mechanical power were introduced in many lines of production, and by 1929 there were over a thousand industrial research laboratories in the United States. It is significant that during the first quarter of the present century the output of the individual worker increased fifty per cent, and that while before 1860 there were less than five thousand patents issued annually, in recent times something like fifty thousand are granted.

Agriculture, too, underwent a great change in the period after 1878. A general scarcity of labor, together with an abundance of land, led to the wide-scale use of farm machinery. In the early seventies the invention of the roller process for reducing flour had profound effects on both the milling industry and agriculture, and John F. Appleby's invention of the twine binder in 1878 was hardly less significant. The combined harvester and thresher, the use of steam and gasoline for power, the improved plow, and many another technological change caused agricultural production to treble between 1850 and 1910. The spread of scientific methods led to higher standards of living on the farm, made larger farms practical, and greatly reduced the amount of human labor required to produce a bushel of wheat or a bale of cotton.

The development of American technical education, while fairly rapid, was for a time much slower than the economic growth of the country. During the first two decades of the past century West Point Military Academy was the only institution giving systematic training in the engineering arts. A technical school was begun in 1822 at Bowdoin College, but this venture lasted only ten years. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York, gave a course in civil engineering as early as 1829; and the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard and the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, both established in 1847, also offered the opportunity of a technical education. Of the state universities the one at Michigan was first, in 1853, to introduce civil engineering as a regular course of instruction. These, however, were widely scattered and varied experiments in technical training, and it is interesting to note that at the end of the Civil War the graduates of engineering schools, not including West Point, numbered less than 300.

This situation was partly remedied by the passage of the Morrill Act of 1862, which gave to the states public lands as a means of promoting instruction in the "sciences relating to agriculture and the mechanic arts." As a result of this congressional measure no less than 64 technical colleges were founded in the years that followed the Civil War; of these, fifty gave instruction in at least one branch of engineering. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which was destined for a great role in American life, was started in 1865 and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, also of Massachusetts, followed three years later. After 1870 the increase of technical institutes was rapid, the number jumping to 85 in 1880 and to 126 in 1917. The number of Students taking engineering courses rose from 3,043 in 1889 to 11,874 in 1900 and to 66,637 in 1928. To protect the interests of engineers the American Society of Civil Engineers was organized in 1852, the Institute of Mining Engineers in 1871, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1880. In 1884 the Institute of Electrical Engineers came into being, followed in 1896 by the American Railway Engineering Association; in 1908, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers was chartered. But while education reflected unmistakably the changed economic life of the country, and the growth of societies reveals the increasing importance of the engineering profession, America could and did still use the services of men trained abroad. The speed with which most of the immigrant engineers found employment and the important role that they played thereafter are proof that the supply of technical leaders fell short of our national demand.

The America of dynamic growth and change that developed between 1879 and 1929 drew young engineers from Europe as a magnet attracts steel. The extractive industries, transportation, communications, and manufacturing vied for the services of able technical leaders; at the same time they paid good salaries and offered opportunities to men of ability. Even agriculture, or certain phases of it, attracted some; and the building attendant on city, transportation, and industrial growth made the United States a mecca for structural engineers. It was the whole pattern of economic life on this side of the Atlantic, far more than the retarding tendencies at home, that explains why the graduates of Norway's technical schools came to America in search of employment.

VIII

The impulse to emigrate was thus unmistakably economic, or, more accurately, professional. But it must also be remembered that the engineer graduates, particularly in the days before the high school at Trondhjem, were young men -- in years hardly more than boys. With them, as with most students, the desire to see and live in new lands, to find greater opportunities (større forhold), naturally figured as a part of the broader pattern. The successful careers of some of the first engineers -- the pioneers of our story -- caused many to cross the Atlantic who might otherwise have hesitated to leave. The presence of friends, classmates, even relatives in the New World also frequently served as a special inducement to try one's luck in North America.

Unlike a large portion of those who left the country districts of Norway to take up land in the Middle West, the engineers burned no bridges behind them; in fact the large majority had every intention of returning to the homeland after acquiring experience, perhaps a fortune, and possibly too, a great reputation. They had no farms to sell and no families to care for. A ticket for the voyage to America, a few dollars to keep them going until they found a job, some articles of clothing -- these with few exceptions were all that they carried with them. In a short time they would return to visit parents and friends in Europe; a few years more and they would return to take over engineering posts in Norway, their American experience being a decided asset in the competition for such positions as were available in the country that they loved. This fact -- the tendency to regard America as a place of temporary residence only -- colored their whole life in the New World and gave it an orientation that was quite different from that of the main body of Norwegian Americans. Thus in a social as well as a purely economic sense the story of the engineers is a distinct and in many ways a separate chapter in American urban life.

The thoughts that entered the mind of a young Norwegian engineer just out of college are vividly told in the ease history of a 1905 graduate of the Trondhjem Technical School:

I remember while attending the Technical School at Trondhjem that the newspapers reported farm laborers in the U.S. as receiving up to $5.00 a day during harvest season. Well, eighteen crowns per day for ordinary working-men certainly impressed me! I also remember that my classmates had information from the U.S.A. that men with an engineering education may earn from 60 to 70 dollars a month at the start. 220-260 crowns per month looked very good to me! In Norway I could earn 125 crowns per month, and after ten years perhaps 250. By that time I could be earning 500 crowns per month in the land of boundless opportunities!

But the lure of high pay, although by far the chief factor, was not the only one to influence my emigration to the United States. Trondhjem, at the time of my graduation from T.T.L. in 1905, had a population of about 45,000. Two or three of the graduates would probably find employment there or in the vicinity; those with influential family connections would have the best chance for a position and better pay. The young man had to go somewhere. In most cases there were no opportunities in the home district, very often a farm community. . . .

He knew that he would not feel as much at home in a foreign country as in Norway, but that did not deter him from emigrating. The fact was that he did not care to feel at home anywhere for awhile. . . . He was young, unmarried, and wanted to see a little of the world, especially the "big proportion" country which he had heard so much about.

I know of no other factors than the above-mentioned which caused us to migrate from Norway. . . . I know of no case, nor have I heard of any before the fateful year of 1940, in which the magnetic power of the Statue of Liberty has pulled a Norwegian engineer or architect across the Atlantic.

Most engineers and architects who left Norway as emigrants had no very definite plan. They had piled up a debt in going through school, and would go almost anywhere to make money. Countries undergoing rapid development offered the best opportunities. To make money as fast as possible, and, as a side issue, to see some other part of the world, was their chief object. Permanent settlement in any particular place was not part of their plan. To them there was only one "home," and for most of them, it would be natural to feel that when they had become a little independent financially they would drift back to settle down in Oslo. {52}

The ease of another engineer who eventually returned to fill a prominent position in Norway supports these generalizations somewhat:

I belong neither to the old nor the young engineers who went to America. In 1907, at the age of 22, I was one of exactly 40 students who graduated from the Trondhjem Technical School; of these forty young men, fifteen went to America, and of the fifteen, nine, or about 25 per cent, to the United States. A similar situation is certainly true for the years immediately before and after, both at the Trondhjem school and the other Norwegian technical schools ....

What was it that caused so large a percentage to migrate? It isn't easy to answer. Any specific difficulty in finding something to do at home on the part of young engineers, so far as I know, did not exist. For my own part, I found work the day after I left school, and similar experiences were shared by my comrades. The pay, it is true, was nothing overwhelming; we earned from 60 to 100 crowns per month; those who got 100 were considered fortunate. But one did not need more than about 60 crowns, or maybe a little more, to live in a modest way. Each year one could look forward to a small raise in salary. We knew that in America beginning pay was about the same in dollars as in crowns at home. In addition we had the urge to see a little of the world and to try our strength in a bigger field. About the same inducements as send so large a part of American youth to the large city. It was also easy to make the trip; the ticket, as I recall, was about 160 crowns, and there was no difficulty in entering the United States. And of course we had the addresses of the comrades who had left a year or two before. {53}

The young engineer usually carried with him letters of recommendation, some school drawings, and the addresses of graduates well established in America. When a Norwegian chief engineer could be found, the chances of finding employment were especially bright, but the generally high regard in the United States for the work of Norwegian engineers came in time to be his surest recommendation. He made his way to the large metropolitan centers -- New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, the Twin Cities, and later to the cities of the West Coast; but smaller industrial centers such as Butler, Pennsylvania, and Schenectady, New York, often exerted an equally great attraction. In Canada it was chiefly the paper and mineral centers of Quebec and Ontario, but the maritime and, later, the western provinces were carefully considered for the opportunities that they too offered.

Generalization is particularly dangerous with so individualized a group as the engineers. It can be said, however, that most of them, thanks to the vigorous economic life of America, had little trouble finding jobs; several days or a few weeks usually sufficed, and there are interesting cases of some going to work on the day of their arrival in the New World. In most cases they began as draftsmen or designers at salaries that only experienced engineers could command in Norway. All were impressed by the rapid tempo of American life, the seeming hardness of the city, and the dirt and filth that they found everywhere. But they were quick, too, to appreciate the native hospitality of the average American and the friendly attitude that lay beneath the push and shove of the young society. Their schoolboy English usually proved sufficient for purely professional needs, but many were to find that a mastery of the language was a distinct advantage in the higher positions, especially when dealings with the public were frequent. While advancement proved in most eases to be fairly rapid, not a few came to feel that the higher engineering posts were reserved for native Americans.

But the experiences of the engineers, both technical and nontechnical, cannot be expressed solely in terms of the general or typical. The variety of these experiences and the richness of the engineer story as a whole can best be told by following the careers of a few who pioneered on America's technical fronts and left a strong imprint on the material civilization that we call American.

Notes

<1> From the title The Atlantic Migration, 1607-1860, by Marcus Lee Hansen (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1940).

<2> H. S. Person, in Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, 5:543 (New York, 1931).

<3> The removal of monopolies and special privilege, the abolition of the British and Dutch navigation acts, and the adoption of a free-trade policy in the period immediately before this, as well as the great expositions of 1851 and 1855 in London and Paris, gave a great stimulus to economic development.

<4>For an able discussion of his work as minister of the interior, see Bjarne Svare, Frederik Stang, fyrste bolken, 1808-1856, 199-353 (Oslo, 1959).

<5> Knut Greve, "Arbeiderne og den nye industri," in Norsk kulturhistorie, 4:131, 151-153 (Oslo, 1940).

<6> Greve, in Norsk kulturhistorie, 151-174; Wilhelm Keilhau, Der norske folks liv og historie, 9:130-135 (Oslo, 1931).

<7> The crown (krone) was worth from 20 to 25 cents before World War II.

<8>Georg Brochmann, "Tid er penger," in Norsk kulturhistorie, 4: l2-31; Keilhau, Der norske folks liv og historie, 9:89-105.

<9> Norsk kulturhistorie, 4: 46. For an interesting discussion of the steamboat, see p. 37-54.

<10> It is interesting to note that the route was studied and the railroad largely planned by Robert Stephenson, son of the great Scottish pioneer in the locomotive field.

<11> Norsk kulturhistorie, 4:54-60; Keilhau, Der norske folks liv og historie, 9:106-118.

<12> The very first telegraph line was, of course, the relatively unimportant one between Christiania and Eidsvold, along the railroad route.

<13> Norsk kulturhistorie, 4:61-67; Keilhau, Der norske folks liv og historie, 9:118-121.

<14> Norsk kulturhistorie, 4: 73-74; Keilhau, Der norske folks liv og historie, 9:121-125.

<15> Among the innovations were agricultural schools, loan offices, modern lighthouses, nail factories, a match plant, and some new machine shops.

<16>A reliable guide for a study of Norway's industries is found in the volumes of Der norske folks liv og historie. A convenient summary of the chief features of Norwegian economic life, with emphasis on the very recent period, is the Norway Year Book, edited by Per Vogt (Oslo, 1938).

<17> Keilhau, Det norske folks liv og historie, 9: 410.

<18> In this study this group is considered a part, and a significant part, of the middle class.

<19> The various encyclopedias -- English, French, German, Danish, and Swedish -- give adequate accounts of the growth of technical education in the different countries of Europe.

<20> It was discontinued in 1814. Instruction in mining was then taken over by the new university at Christiania.

<21>A convenient summary of the growth of technical education in Norway is Director N. de L. Kobberstad's "Historisk oversikt," in 25-års jubileumsberetning 1912-1935, Bergen tekniske skole, Oslo tekniske skole, Trondheim tekniske skole, 7-18 (Oslo, 1937).

<22> Joh. K. Bergwitz, "Hortens tekniske skole," in Femti-aars jubileums-festskrift, Hortens tekniske skole, 1855-1905, 7-15 (Christiania, [1905]). A short account of Horten is Heitman Altern's "Norway's First Technical School's 75th Anniversary: A Short Historical Review," in Norwegian-American Technical Journal, 3:1, 15 (August, 1930). The quotation given above is a translation from Bergwitz, p. 13. The account of the Horten school is brought up to date by a 75 års biografisk jubileums-festskrift, Horten tekniske skole, 1855-1930 (Oslo, [1930]).

<23>A good brief account of the founding of the Trondhjem and Christiania technical schools is included in Kobberstad's "Historisk oversikt." The Norwegian encyclopedias supplement this material.

<24> Festskrift ved Bergen, tekniske skoles 25-års jubilæum, Jun 1900, 23 (Bergen, 1900). Included in this comprehensive survey is a historical review, "Den tekniske skole 1875-1900," by F. Arentz, p. 3-33.

<25> Kobberstad in "Historisk oversikt."

<26> An able discussion of this school is Gjennem 50 år: Skiensfjordens mekaniske fagskole, Porsgrunn, 1884-1934 (Porsgrunn, 1934).

<27> Edgar B. Schieldrop, "Norges tekniske høiskole, 1910-20," in Studenter. Jubilæt, Trondhjem 1920, en l0-aars historisk, 9-18 (Trondhjem, 1920); Sem Saeland, "Trondhjem's Institute," in American-Scandinavian Review, 9:123-127 (February, 1921); Alf Kolflaath, "Norway's Institute of Technology," in Norwegian-American Technical Journal, 2: 1, 7, 15 (July, 1929); and Norges tekniske høiskole, beretning om virksomheten, 1910-20 (Trondhjem, 1920). Student life is described by Louis Feinsilber in" Studenter-liv i Trondheim," in Nordmanns-forbundet, 31:290-292 (September, 1938).

<28> It is assumed that no reader will confuse the European high school (with the rank of a university) with the American public preparatory school of the same name.

<29> Nordmanns-forbundet, 28:333 (October, 1935).

<30> In 1986 the word mellemskole was dropped and the schools were called Trondheim tekniske skole, etc.

<31> Kobberstad in "Historisk oversikt."

<32> Built up by the writer over a period of several years. The figures given here are merely illustratlve of the story that they reveal.

<33> The Great Hunger, translated from the Norwegian by W. J. Alexander Worster and C. Archer, 96 (New York, 1919).

<34> Some interesting exceptions are worth noting: Bastian Monsen, a civil engineer, in Ibsen's" The League of Youth," 1869; and Mordtmann, the engineer friend of Fru Wenche, in Kielland's "Married" (Gift).

<35> Published in 1894.

<36> In Ibsen's play by the same name, published in 1896. Perhaps the first piece of Norwegian literature to pose the problem of the new materialistic civilization versus the traditional order of things was Bjørnson's little story "The Railroad and the Cemetery Jernbane og kirkegaarden), published in 1866. This account of a railroad that was to pass over a graveyard found Bjørnson sympathizing with conservative pietism but prophetic enough to see the inevitable victory of the forces symbolized by the railroad.

<37> For example, Rein in "Our Kingdom" (Vort rige), 1908; Reidar Bang in "Life" (Liv), 1911; Sigurd Braa in the play of that name, 1916; and Leif Sund, the inventor, in "Day and Night" (Dagen og natten), 1935.

<38> See her Norwegian Emigration to America during the Nineteenth Century," in Norwegian-American Studies and Records, 11: 66-81, and "Grunnlaget for utvandringen," in Nordmanns-forbundet, 29:207-209 (July, 1936). For a broad analysis of the various factors contributing to emigration and the theories thereof see Theodore C. Blegen's "Emigration Causes and Controversy," in Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860, 154-176 (Northfield, 1931), and "People in Dispersion," in Norwegian Migration to America: The American Transition, 454-479 (Northfield, 1940).

<39> Exceptions were a very few engineers of bonde origin who insisted that the nepotism of the bureaucracy forced them to leave Norway, and several converts of the Mormon faith who were victims of religious persecution.

<40> Hortens tekniske skole, 1855-1930.

<41> Some later returned to Norway.

<42> O. Alstad, Trondhjemsteknikernes matrikel, biografiske meddelelser om samtlige faste og hospiterende elever av Trondhjems tekniske laereanstalt, 1870-1915 (Trondhjem, 1916); Alstad, Tillegg til Trondhjemsteknikernes matrikel (Trondhjem, 1932).

<43> Of the graduates 1,340 are listed, of whom only 81 set out for the New World; 25-års jubileumsberetning.

<44> The writer was in correspondence with officials in Norway at the time of the Nazi invasion of that country. The information that was to have been sent by the technical schools was one of the many casualties of the invasion.

<45> The figures given would seem to indicate a total of 181 between 1878-1900; these went to America. The record is obviously incomplete. See Festskrift Bergens tekniske skoles 25 års jubilæum.

<46>Compiled from Annual Reports of the Commissioner-general of Immigration statistical information received from the department of justice. The years represent fiscal years ending June 30.

<47> Compiled from Annual Reports of the Commissioner-general of Immigration and information received from the department of justice.

<48> Compiled from Annual Reports of the Commissioner-general of Immigration. Mr. Bjarne Bassøe, secretary of the Norwegian Engineers' Society (Den norske in geniørforening), estimates that about a thousand engineers from all parts of the world returned to Norway during the depression. By 1935 they were once more leaving the homeland in large numbers; Scandia (Chicago), January 24, 1935.

<49> See any comprehensive survey of American economic life. Chester W.Wright's excellent volume, Economic History of the United States (New York, 1941), has a useful summary of the American business cycles, p. 868-883.

<50> G. Gathorne Hardy, in Norway, 265 (New York, 1925).

<51> Ernest Ludlow Bogart, Economic History of the American People, 526 (New York, 1937).

<52> Statement by a well-known Chicago engineer.

<53> Letter of March 11, 1940. The writer lives, or lived, in Trondhjem, and his letter, written in Norwegian, was inspired by a notice in a technical periodical that the present study would be published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association.

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