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NORWEGIANAMERICAN STUDIES
Volume XXVII

1977
The Norwegian-American Historical Association
Northfield Minnesota
Copyright 1977 by the Norwegian-American Historical Association
87732:57

Printed in the United States of America at the North Central Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota.

To the Memory of Ole Edvart Rølvaag
Sensitive Interpreter of the
Immigrant Experience

Preface

The recent statements and activities related to the Sesquicentennial of Norwegian migration to this country and the Bicentennial of the United States have coincided with a growing interest, in and out of the academic world, in the varied human ingredients in our national society. Both have underscored President Kennedy’s statement, “We are all immigrants.” At no time has ethnicity been so broadly the concern alike of old-stock Americans and the children of more recent migration to the New World. Earlier attitudes have given way to a concept that places premiums on diversity and pluralism. As President Ford recently stated, there is a “danger to this country in conformity of thought and taste and behavior.” We have now attained to a maturity that apparently has repudiated the negative connotations of the melting-pot theory and puts stress on the enrichment of national life from continuing waves of immigration.

These thoughts have been uppermost in my mind while planning this volume. It has been designed to continue the work that the Association has pursued for a half century and at the same time to reflect trends in recent historiography and the intensified interest in ethnicity.

Representing the traditional and time-tested approach to immigration history are Carlton C. Qualey’s translations of some “America letters,” Odd S. Lovoll’s study of Decorah-Posten, Einar Haugen’s memoir of Decorah’s Symra Society and its distinguished periodical, Carl H. Chrislock’s account of the controversy over name change in the Lutheran church, and Terje I. Leiren’s analysis of American opinion on the dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian union. In similar manner, Frederick Hale challenges Marcus L. Hansen’s well-known theories about Puritanism and immigration, Richard L. Canuteson uses census records to establish the permanence of the Kendall Settlement, Rudolph J. Vecoli views the work of the Association, Clarence A. Clausen continues his listing of recent publications in the field of immigration, and Charlotte Jacobson resumes the discussion of recent acquisitions in the archives of the NAHA.

Reflecting newer trends are Jon Leirfall’s in-depth study of emigration from one district of the homeland, Alexander E. Morstad’s account of his father’s missionary work among Indians in Wisconsin, Kristoffer F. Paulson’s detective-like record of the origins of themes in the O. E. Rølvaag novels, David L. Brye’s quantitative study of Scandinavian voting habits in Wisconsin, Helge Seljaas’ interpretation of plural marriage among Norwegian Mormons, and Rodney Nelson’s use of a literary form to portray attitudes in an immigrant community.

Again, as on many other occasions in the past dozen years, I am indebted to Ralph L. Henry, emeritus professor of English in Carleton College, for invaluable assistance in preparing for publication this, the twenty-seventh, volume in our Studies series.

KENNETH O. BJORK
St. Olaf College

 

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