Studies and Records
Published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association,
Copyright © 1962 by the Norwegian-American Historical Association
THIS volume, the twenty-first in a series, appears with a shortened title and a new look. The first ten books were bound in paper, the next ten in blue paper over boards. Time and use have demonstrated that the paper fades and shreds; it now seems practicable to bind in cloth. The maroon cloth used here has been chosen to harmonize with the backbone and cover bands of the preceding ten volumes. Overall dimensions and page size remain unaltered. Our thanks go to Miss Jane McCarthy, production manager of the University of Minnesota Press, who designed the cover and backbone and the preliminary, chapter, and text pages.
The altered format of the Studies series is, in a real sense, a salute to Dean Theodore C. Blegen, who during his thirty-five years as editor evidenced a tireless interest in the appearance of the associationís publications. In addition, Professor Qualeyís opening article fittingly pays tribute to Dr. Blegenís scholarship and diplomacy.
The remaining papers explore, as do those in earlier volumes, areas at once familiar and unfamiliar to the reader. Mrs. Skårdal sympathetically reviews the publishing markets and reading public of the immigrant Scandinavian author, and interprets his fiction and poetry in the light of their place in American literature. Professor Arestad offers some first-hand narratives by Norwegian Americans who doggedly searched for gold and furs in the Klondike and in Alaska; he thus broadens our interpretation of grass-roots historical sources. Miss Folkedahl, as translator and editor, has presented a packet of absorbing letters that deal with Wisconsin farm life in the nineteenth century and touch on the processes by which Norwegians become Americans. Dr. De Pillis, a specialist in frontier communitarian ventures, makes a spirited case for Cleng Peerson as a champion of group living, but leaves him shrouded in legend.
Mrs. Levorsen has drawn on her store of picturesque memories for a narrative of a childhood spent in a Norwegian settlement in the Dakotas, in which she still visualizes tree planting, well digging, domestic animals, and household furnishings, as well as Indians and "Syrian" peddlers. Mr. Rosholt interprets the diary of a Wisconsin pioneer farmer who ó like a character out of Kafka ó was obsessed by thoughts of God and of the passing of the days and months as he cut trees, repaired machinery or shoes, and cared for his crops. Professor Bjork observes the Scandinavian interests of the Mormon Saints who migrated to Utah from northern Europe their newspapers, businesses, political activities, and their attitude toward amusements. Mr. Johnson has translated Johan Reinert Reiersenís early description of Texas, a surprisingly accurate one, as it turns out, and Professor Haugen gives a specific answer as to what Reiersenís youthful "indiscretions" in Norway actually were.
Finally, the volume contains the seventeenth installment of a bibliography of publications in Norwegian-American history, this time prepared by Miss Folkedahl, who adds informal notes about source materials in the associationís archives.
Kenneth O. Bjork
St. Olaf College