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Studies and Records
Volume XV

Published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association, Northfield, Minnesota
Copyright 1949 by the Norwegian-American Historical Association

Preface

The materials in this volume have a wide range of Norwegian-American interest. Professor Haugen presents a critical, analytical study of a pioneer ballad and accompanies it with a singable translation. The study drives home the historical importance of the ballad as folk historical material -- a kind of material that we should collect vigorously to fill out our ballad archives.

Using immigrant letters from the early period of Norwegian migration Professor Clausen adds new material on the contagion of "America fever" in the 1840's.

Dr. Arlow W. Andersen probes into the play of immigrant opinion on the large public issues that agitated immigrant thought in the period of the Civil War.

Four of the articles in this volume have biographical interest. The importance of Thorstein Veblen in the history of American thought is so great that any new and original material dealing with his earlier experiences has genuine significance. Dr. Bjork brings together a number of letters that fill out a little-known chapter in the Veblen saga. Alongside this article is a sympathetic appreciation of Kristian Prestgard, one of the great editors and literary figures among the Norwegians in the United States -- a man who contributed much to the creation and early development of the Norwegian-American Historical Association. Mr. John Heitmann, drawing upon a rich store of knowledge of the poet Julius B. Baumann, re-creates the personality of the poet and presents a detailed picture of the social and cultural interests of this leader, whose name and fame deserve to be perpetuated. Finally, in this biographical series, Mr. Jacob Hodnefield traces the career of Erie L. Peterson, an Episcopal clergyman with broad literary and critical interests.

Mrs. Buetow's play dealing with Ole Rynning's life was written in Chicago in the 1930's, a few years after the Association published its volume entitled Ole Rynning's True Account of America. In this first attempt to dramatize the chapter of Norwegian-American history with which she deals, Mrs. Buetow presents an interesting interpretation of Rynning's character and purposes, and illustrates some of the dramatic potentialities of the immigrant saga. The obvious anachronisms that she commits in achieving her goal may be checked by referring to the Association's historical account of Rynning's career. He wrote his famous book before, not after, the low and swampy character of the Beaver Creek settlement had been disclosed. The scene at Fox River, the episode of the dam, and the love story are the author's inventions.

In Mr. Alfred O. Erickson's lively account of Scandinavia, Wisconsin, the reader will find much more than a mere recital of facts. The account is memorable particularly for its distillation of the atmosphere of a Norwegian immigrant community of the Middle West.

Finally, the volume includes the eleventh bibliography in the useful series compiled by Mr. Hodnefield, and an interesting note by Mr. Walter W. Wright on the naming of Norway, Maine.

Theodore C. Blegen

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