Studies and Records
Published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association,
Copyright © 1954 by the Norwegian-American Historical Association
Among the many tasks of historians, none is more difficult than that of making broad surveys and offering sound interpretations. As mountains of detail accumulate in a given do main, it is important to review the historical scene in full compass so that parts may be fitted properly into the whole. One needs to see the woods as well as the trees. This volume opens with a panoramic view of the course of Norwegian migration from 1825 to the present. Prepared as a setting for an intensive study of "bilingual behavior," this survey-interpretation is drawn from a two-volume linguistic work by Professor Haugen. Its value, however, reaches far beyond its immediate purpose of supplying background for an under standing of the story of the Norwegian language in America.
Interpretation is the keynote also to the memorable portrait that Professor Paul Knaplund draws, in skillful strokes, of one of the best known of all Norwegian Americans, the "stouthearted" and "valiant" crusader, Rasmus B. Anderson.
Norwegian-American researches thus far have reached all too little into the Rocky Mountain area and the farther West, and Professor Bjork adds a new chapter to the larger story in his account of early Norwegian settlement in the Rockies. His article may be read as a fascinating sample from a book to come - his work on Norwegian Americans in the Far West.
The history of Norwegian migration is nation-wide and more than a century long in its scope and interest, but begin-flings will never lose their fascination, particularly when a writer adds something to a widely known first chapter. Professor Canuteson does this in an essay that goes back to the "sloop folk" of 1825. He explores, as no one else hitherto has done, the local records of the region to which Cleng Peerson And his comrades went after they disembarked from the "Restoration" at New York.
History and sociology make a smooth junction in the careful, critical study by Professor Munch of the processes and problems of segregation and assimilation in the Wisconsin Norwegian settlements. The author probes into the patterns and meanings of what may be called "group behavior" in certain selected settlements which are rooted in the pioneer past, and his findings will have significance not only for the particular ethnic groups he has segregated for analysis, but also for the larger understanding of American society today.
Dr. Munch's study confirms the view that many techniques are needed to interpret Norwegian-American history. Yet another approach is described by Professor Thorson, who traces the career of a predecessor of Rølvaag. Peer Strømme wrote novels, but he was not a novelist in any professional sense. Mr. Thorson properly interprets him as a versatile mind that turned to fiction as one of various vehicles for re cording and interpreting the Norwegian-American experience.
Two bibliographical studies by Jacob Hodnefield conclude the present volume. One reviews the story of the Norwegian-American bygdelags and lists their publications, a first and necessary step in the direction of a history of this interesting movement which has drawn its inspiration from traditions and memories of local districts and communities in Norway. Mr. Hodnefield also gathers up the titles of new articles and books in the Norwegian-American field which have appeared during the past two years - the fourteenth in the valuable series he has maintained since the fifth volume of Studies and Records.
Theodore C. Blegen
University of Minnesota