Studies and Records
Published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association,
Copyright © 1956 by the Norwegian-American Historical Association
With this volume, the publications of the Norwegian-American Historical Association since 1925 total thirty-nine, and others are on the way. The articles in the present volume attest the continuing vitality of the field of Norwegian-American history, for there are new contributors as well as some who have appeared in this series before. It seems appropriate, in Dean Theodore C. Blegenís thirty-first year as managing editor and his own sixty-fifth, to open the volume with a brilliant chapter from his recently published Land of Their Choice. It is also fitting that his essay should deal with the "America letters," the most important single body of source material for immigrant history.
The immigrant theme has attracted many writers, not the least of these being Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen. Professor Clarence Glasrudís unpublished volume on Boyesen is the first thorough study of this important writer, and from it the author has abstracted a clear and significant analysis of Boyesenís understanding of the Norwegian emigrant. It will serve as a needed corrective to common misconceptions about Boyesen.
Until Professor William Mulder took hold of the subject, our information on the Scandinavian Mormons was fragmentary at best. His forthcoming book on this important phase of Mormonism and of Scandinavian-American history will soon be published by the University of Minnesota Press. Of special interest to Norwegians has been the story of the Norwegian emigrantsí first contact with Mormonism, and this is the theme of Professor Mulderís essay.
The fabulous career of "Snowshoe" Thompson illustrates the generalization that fact is frequently more fascinating than fiction. A Norwegian folk hero of incredible strength and endurance, he challenged the stormy Rockies and conquered them repeatedly. To sift out fact from legend in this saga is perhaps not wholly possible, but Professor Bjork has succeeded in holding to the line of scholarship without sacrificing any of the exciting quality of the subject.
A little known aspect of Norwegian-American history is presented in Professor Arlow W. Andersenís article on Norwegian-Danish Methodism. This essay and the one on Mormonism should serve to correct in some degree the erroneous impression that all Norwegian immigrants were Lutherans.
Among the most rewarding of recent developments has been the exchange of persons between countries. One of the fruits of this program was Tora Bøhnís visit to the United States in search of Norwegian folk art. Although her findings were somewhat discouraging, they nevertheless constitute a significant commentary on the degree of transplantation of a folk culture.
One of the most colorful of the early Norwegian emigrants is vividly brought to life by Professor Clarence A. Clausen in his able translation of the Trovatten journal. As frequently happened, Trovattenís own fortunes fell far short of his expectations of the New World.
Professor Oystein Oreís useful compilation of university-trained emigrants indicates that there were surprisingly many such to provide intellectual leadership among Norwegian-Americans. The invaluable annotated list of publications relating to Norwegian-American history, ably compiled for many years by Jacob Hodnefield, is continued in this volume by Professor Clausen, who maintains his predecessorís tradition of scholarship, comprehensiveness and usefulness.
Carlton C. Qualey
<1> Dr. Canton C. Qualey, a member of the Board of Editors, has taken over the general editing of the present volume of Norwegian-American Studies and Records, and he has therefore consented to write the preface. T.C.B.