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Poverty, Overpopulation, and the Early Emigration from Sogn
    by Aage Engesæter* translated by C.A. Clausen (Volume 32: Page 31)

* This article is based on a larger work by the same author, “Rift om brødet?” Befolkning ressursar og økonomi i Sogn 1801-1855 (Sogndal, 1985).

The causes for the early emigration from Norway to America are among the classic problems raised in the field of emigration research. Scholars have gradually arrived at dissimilar explanations and emphases. Traditionally they have concluded that the causes of this emigration were to be found in poverty and cramped and restricted living conditions. And poverty has generally been regarded as a result of the considerable population increase which took place in Norway after 1815. Concepts such as “population pressure” and “overpopulation” have often been put forth as basic factors. Sogn was one of the areas of the country which had a vigorous emigration movement during the 1840s and 1850s. This movement has been explained as the result of a strong population growth, a manifestation of the fact that too many people had accumulated in the district. The historian Andreas Holmsen launched such an idea during the 1930s. {1} He has been followed by others, among them Rasmus Sunde, who in an article in Norwegian-American Studies declares that in Vik (Sogn) around 1845 “the population had reached a saturation point in relation to the area’s economic possibilities.” {2} He also says that “by 1845-1855 there is definite evidence that overpopulation had reached inner Sogn.”

Map of Sogn, 1865

1. Lærdal
2. Årdal
3. Luster
4. Jostedal
5. Hafslo
6. Sogndal
7. Aurland

8. Leikanger
9. Balestrand
10. Vik
11 . Lavik
12. Eivindvik
13. Flyllestad

Map of Sogn with municipal boundaries in 1865.

The present article argues against both of these contentions. In questioning them an attempt will be made to shed some light on the social and economic developments in Sogn during the first half of the 1800s, and the early emigration will be examined in the light of these findings. How strong was the population pressure in this district? Was Sogn “overpopulated,” and to what degree can this explain the vigorous emigration movement of the 1840s and 1850s?

Sogn is the area on both sides of the long Sognefjord, which extends more than 100 miles into the land from the west coast of Norway to the foot of the mighty mountain range in the heart of the country. It was from the inner and the central communities of this district that emigration became extensive during the 1840s and 1850s. It is also these communities which have been classified as “overpopulated.” Consequently it is conditions in inner and central Sogn which will primarily be examined here.

GROWTH AND COMPOSITION OF THE POPULATIONS

Inner Sogn was the most populous area in Sogn. 12,769 people lived there in 1801. By 1855 the number had grown to 20,787. Outer Sogn had a population of 5,881 in 1801 and

9,659 in 1855. In central Sogn, which had the smallest population, the corresponding figures were 5,500 and 7,737. The population increased in Sogn during the first half of the i 800s, but the increase was not equally large in all parts of the district.

It is not the absolute numbers but the relative growth within each region which is of greatest interest. This development is made clear by figure 1.

Figure 1

Fig. 1. Population development in Sogn 1801-1865.
Relative figure 1801 = 100.

The table reveals interesting differences. Outer Sogn had a fairly even growth throughout the whole period from 1801 to 1865, broken merely by a slight slowing down during the decade between 1845 and 1855. In inner and central Sogn, however, it was only after 1815 that the population began to increase.

During the period between 1815 and 1845 it was inner Sogn which had the greatest population increase, but in 1845 the increase in these communities ceased and from 1855 until 1865 the population actually decreased. Central Sogn clearly had a weaker population growth than the other districts. The population grew relatively fast from 1815 until 1835, but then the growth slackened, and was weak during the next thirty years. These population developments alone, however, can not settle the question of the degree of population pressure. In addition one must look at the class composition of the population. It is of interest to look at the relationship between the number of farmers and cotters in the various parts of Sogn, and how this developed toward the middle of the century. The farmers were those who owned and controlled the resources, while the cotters had no property and sustained life partly by working land which they rented from farmers and partly as hired laborers.

The resources were most unequally divided in inner Sogn. Here there were the fewest farmers in relation to the population. In central Sogn there were more, and outer Sogn had the most farmers in relation to the population. The population grew faster than the number of farmers in all parts of Sogn. The difference was greatest in outer Sogn, while the proportion of farmers in relation to population increase held best in the central communities.

For the cotters the picture was very much the reverse. The number of cotters in relation to population was clearly highest in inner Sogn, equally clearly lowest in outer Sogn, while central Sogn occupied a middle position. The number of cotters grew faster than the population in all parts of Sogn. In inner Sogn there were 2.3 more cotters per 100 inhabitants in 1855 than in 1801, in central Sogn 1.3, and in outer Sogn 1.0 more.

Not even on the basis of these facts can definite conclusions be drawn concerning the population pressure in the various districts of Sogn. It is hardly sufficient to maintain that the population pressure was strongest in the areas where the cotter system was most strongly entrenched. There can be many causes for such a social organization, and it is by no means certain that the overall standard of living needs to be lower in communities with many cotters than in communities where the farms were divided up and the soil resources were more equally distributed. But even if such conclusions were to be drawn, they might indicate that the population pressure was greatest in inner Sogn in the mid-nineteenth century. There the number of cotters increased most rapidly - much more rapidly than the population as a whole, while the number of farmers did not keep up with the population increase.

AVAILABLE RESOURCES AND POPULATION

The degree of population pressure must be understood as a relationship between the size of the population and the resources within any given area. In order to measure the amount of population pressure it is necessary - as far as possible - to compare the population with the resources available for producing a livelihood. The best method of securing a quantitative measure of the population pressure in an area like this is to examine the relationship between population figures and property taxes (matrikkelskyld). These taxes were levied on the gross yield of the farm and therefore are a practical measure of a property’s value.

The tax rolls give evidence of the resources at the disposal of every single farm. Fishing, except for salmon, was a resource that was not assessed, which introduces the possibility of error, especially as applied to outer Sogn. In the central and inner communities - which are of greatest interest for this article - the fishing industry was of less importance. One can assume that the assessed property taxes there give a fairly exact measure of the actual resources that were available. Two tax rolls were drawn up for Norway during the nineteenth century. The preparatory work for the first one was done during the 1820s and for the second one during the 1860s.

In 1825 it was inner Sogn which had the greatest number of people in proportion to the property tax. There were then 503 inhabitants per 100 skylddaler, the monetary unit used in the tax register. Corresponding figures were lowest in central Sogn with 378; outer Sogn in 1825 showed figures that were about halfway between those for the inner and central communities, 435 inhabitants per 100 skylddaler. It was primarily the coastal communities farthest out, where the livelihood to a large extent depended on fishing, which pushed the proportional figures upward in that district.

If one considers the later property register (matrikket), it shows that while inner Sogn in 1855 still had the most people in proportion to assessed property taxes, by 1865 it was outer Sogn that had the largest population per 100 skylddaler. This was due to the fact that the population continued to increase in outer Sogn while it decreased in the inner communities. Central Sogn still clearly had the fewest people in proportion to its property taxes.

Everything considered, these figures suggest that central Sogn experienced the least pressure against its available resources. If one takes into account the importance of fishing for the outer coastal communities, it is reasonable to assume that the population pressure was greatest in the inner communities in spite of the high figures recorded for outer Sogn. In this article it is the circumstances in the central and inner communities which are of primary interest. There the situation is not debatable: all evidence indicates that there must have been greater pressure on available resources in inner than in central Sogn.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND POPULATION PRESSURE

Thus far, differences between the various parts of Sogn have been examined as regards population growth, class composition, and the relationship between tax rolls and population. Degrees of population pressure have been noted without considering whether this pressure grew as time went on, in other words, whether living conditions became more difficult toward the middle of the century. When Rasmus Sunde and others talk about overpopulation in these communities during the 1840s and 1850s it must mean that living conditions, according to their views, became worse than they had been earlier. It is not easy to measure living conditions. One way to approach the problem is to examine how food production developed in relation to changes in the size of the population. Implicit in the “overpopulation” hypothesis lies the assumption that the food supply did not keep up with the population increase.

Agriculture provided the main source of food production in the district; and this production can be stated in figures, though, to be sure, not without uncertainties in the methodology used. {3} The nutritional value of agricultural production, in the form of energy measured in calories, now appears to be an accepted criterion. {4} The energy production of agriculture, seen in relation to the population figures, should also provide a good indicator as to how well the various districts in Sogn were able to support the growing population during the course of the nineteenth century. The development of the energy production of agriculture relative to the population should be an indicator of whether living conditions became better or worse toward the middle of the century.

The figures cannot be accepted as infallible. They are encumbered with so many uncertainties that they can be used merely as rough indicators. The figures used here are those which appear in the sources, with adjustment of the count prior to 1845 to compensate for the fact that these figures - in the view of all scholars - are too low. {5} The unadjusted figures can mainly be used when looking for differences in the relationship between agricultural production and population in the three divisions of Sogn, while the adjusted figures, in addition, may reveal something about how adequately agriculture in the Sogn communities sustained the population. Experts say that in order to feed a normally distributed population, an average of at least 2,000 calories per person per day is needed. About 2,600 calories per person is considered a good supply {6}

Figure 2

Fig. 2. Energy production from crops and cattle. Sogn 1808-1855.
Calories per person per day.

Figure 2 shows the main results of the calculation. The solid lines show the agricultural production in calories per person per day as it was according to the figures in the sources for inner, central, and outer Sogn. The dotted lines show the results with adjusted figures.

If the unadjusted figures are examined there are obvious differences in the registered agricultural production in the various parts of Sogn. Inner Sogn has, throughout the whole period, the greatest production in relation to the population. The central communities had very low production at the time of the first tax roll but came close to the level of inner Sogn in 1845 and 1855. The registered production in outer Sogn was somewhat higher than that of the central communities in 1808-1809, but clearly lower in 1845 and 1855.

Though the figures are uncertain, it seems apparent that real differences exist here. The most striking feature connected with these figures is the low agricultural production per inhabitant in the central Sogn communities during 1808-1809 and 1835. These were the communities which had the fewest inhabitants relative to their resources, as measured by the tax rolls. It would thus be reasonable to expect that production per inhabitant would be great here. It is less surprising that agriculture gave small returns in outer Sogn, since this form of livelihood was relatively less important there than in the communities farther up the fjord.

Even if these figures are not taken at face value it is still difficult to avoid the conclusion that agricultural production per inhabitant was greatest in the inner Sogn communities. That is to say that the areas of Sogn which up to now have been found to be most heavily overpopulated also produced the most food in proportion to the population.

These figures indicate that agricultural production kept in step with population increase during the first half of the nineteenth century. To be sure, there is a great difference between the adjusted and the unadjusted figures. Seen as a whole, though, there is much which indicates that agricultural production in inner Sogn kept up with population growth, at least up to 1845. In the first place, the difference between the adjusted figures for 1808-1809 and 1835 is very small; and second, production increased faster than the population during the decade between 1835 and 1845, no matter which figures are followed. It is reasonable to assume that the same also held true for central Sogn. The numbers for 1835, both the adjusted and the unadjusted, are so small that it is difficult to accept them. It is more likely that the real development would reveal a curve with a more even rise between 1808-1809 and 1845 than that in the chart.

What can perhaps be accepted as the most certain interpretation of this graph is that agricultural production likely slowed in comparison with population during the decade between 1845 and 1855 in inner Sogn. However, it is not necessary to conclude that the district was then overpopulated and the people no longer could derive a living there. It is known, for instance, that various non-agricultural activities were gaining a foothold at the time in several communities. {7} Despite the slowdown, inner Sogn was the part of Sogn where the agricultural yield was greatest in 1858 as well.

The question as to how self-supporting the various districts in Sogn were with respect to agricultural products is more difficult to answer. The problem connected with the understatement of the various numbers then becomes more serious. The most reliable statement concerning agricultural production is likely given by the adjusted figures, but one should be wary about depending too much on them.

If the adjusted figures arc to be believed, inner Sogn was self-sufficient in food during this whole period. Central Sogn did not reach the limit of 2,600 calories per person per day until 1855, but it also produced enough food through agriculture in 1845 that the area likely reached the optimum energy supply if fish from the fjord are added. If the figures from the two first periods in the table are accepted, these communities could scarcely have supplied themselves with sufficient food. This is surprising, and one must not depend blindly upon these figures. They are so strikingly low, and the jump from 1835 to 1845 is so great that there are good reasons to doubt their correctness.

Aside from 1845, the figures for outer Sogn are very close to 2,000 calories per person per day. Considering the extensive fishing in these communities, it is likely that agriculture and fishing combined could supply sufficient food.

What the chart shows is how much energy there would have been for every person per day from agricultural production if it had been equally divided among the population. This, of course, it was not and hence little is revealed about the real situation. What it does show is that at least in inner and outer Sogn there was enough food produced during this whole period that, basically, there was enough for everybody, while it is more uncertain whether this was true of central Sogn. If anything certain is to be said about the food situation among different classes of people, then the distribution mechanisms which existed in the communities and how well they functioned would have to be examined. That is something which this study has not attempted. Nevertheless these figures do not indicate that there was a problem of overpopulation in any part of Sogn during the 1840s.

LABOR MARKET, WAGES, AND PRICES

A number of indicators can, in theory, be used to say something about the degree of population pressure in a community. Land prices can be one such indicator, even though it is not definite how high or low prices are to be interpreted. It is perhaps most reasonable to assume that a strong population pressure will have the effect of forcing land prices upward.

During the 1850s land prices were highest in inner Sogn and lowest in outer Sogn, while the central region found itself, as usual, in between. {8} Land prices were clearly lowest in outer Sogn, probably because the soil had less utility value for people there than for people in the inner communities. Land was not, to the same degree, the only source of livelihood in the coastal areas that it was in the inner fjord communities. Out by the coast there was also another source of income: fishing. But why were land prices in the middle communities also so much lower than in inner Sogn? There were no other sources of income, unconnected with the soil, which would be instrumental in holding land prices down. A reasonable hypothesis can be that the population pressure was stronger in the innermost communities than in central Sogn, and the demand for land was thus greater there.

In a region with strong population pressure it is reasonable to assume that it would be difficult for young people to secure work. Lack of jobs might force them to leave the district. Answers to questions in a circular sent out by the Department of the Interior to local poor commissions can shed some light on the state of the labor market during the 1840s. {9}

It is the labor situation and the income possibilities for young unmarried people that these questions address. They were the ones who had steady employment and for them the answers seem to be quite unambiguous: it was not difficult for young people to secure steady jobs in Sogn in 1840. To the contrary, it seems as if in certain areas (Sogndal, Lavik, and possibly Vik) there was even a shortage of hired help. At least in Sogndal and Vik the reason seemed to be that there were other ways of earning a livelihood which were more attractive than permanent farm labor.

So this was the situation on the labor market a few years before “the dam burst and the emigrant stream went over the ocean,” as the local historian Anders Ohnstad puts it. {10} It evidently did not look hopeless. Those who wanted year-round jobs could, without any problem, secure steady employment and those who desired income from day-labor could count on this during certain parts of the year in agriculture. Furthermore, there are many indications that there was work to be had outside the basic industries.

If the information brought to light here is accepted, there are few indications that people had to leave Sogn because of lack of employment. Neither are there any indications that it was more difficult to secure jobs in the inner communities, where it has generally been assumed that the population pressure was most intense at this time.

It is a reasonable hypothesis that there is a connection between the wages earned by servants and day laborers and the degree of population pressure. Population pressure will increase the labor supply and thus, in accordance with usual marketing principles, will play its part in pressing wages downward.

The answers to the questions to the Interior Department in 1840 also contain information about wages. They indicate that the wages were fairly even in the various communities in Sogn. At any rate, they were not lower in the inner communities than in the outer areas. To the contrary, available figures indicate that the wages were somewhat higher in the inner communities than in the outer, especially the wages for men. Overpopulation in the inner communities had, in any case, not caused wages in this district to decline by 1840. This also agrees with the evidence about wages gathered from other sources. {11} The wages in Sogn seem, systematically, to have been higher than in the neighboring districts of Sunnfjord and Nordfjord, which did not have any early emigration movement. Neither was it possible to find any essential differences between the wages of day laborers in the various regions of Sogn. It is impossible to prove that there was any especially strong population pressure in the inner Sogn communities by using the level of wages as evidence. If there was population pressure in any part of Sogn it did not have any effect on the wages paid laborers.

AN OVERPOPULATED SOCIETY?

In summary, what have the indicators examined so far shown about the relationship between population and resources in Sogn? They have not revealed any unambiguous picture. Neither the labor market, wages, cost of living, nor land prices gave any indications that there was a strong population pressure in any part of the district.

If there was any such pressure, the population increase and the relation between property taxes and the number of people indicate that the pressure was strongest in inner Sogn, while central Sogn seemed to have the most favorable relationship between the size of the population and available resources.

Information about agricultural yield revealed that food production likely kept in step with population growth during the first half of the nineteenth century. In both inner and central Sogn this production, in 1855, was greater than the optimal requirement. In this connection it is worthy of notice that agricultural production, measured in calories per person per day, was clearly highest in inner Sogn throughout this whole period. Thus, it was hardly true that the population increase and a consequent population pressure in this region led to reduced agricultural production per inhabitant and a corresponding shortage of food.

Thus it would seem that the concept “overpopulation” is unsuitable to characterize conditions in Sogn during the middle 1800s. It is therefore difficult to assert that the reason for the great emigration was that the district was “overpopulated.”

EMIGRATION

The questions raised can be better addressed by analyzing the early emigration from this district somewhat more closely. The lists of movement in and out of the parishes in the church records of Sogn are the sources for the analysis. All those who emigrated between 1839 and 1855 have been listed and analyzed with the help of a computer.

The number of emigrants was largest from inner Sogn. Here 1,901 emigrants to America are listed during this period. From central Sogn 1,399 people left, while from outer Sogn only 51 emigrants were registered. The absolute figures are, however, not the most interesting. It is more valuable to see how strong the emigration movement was in relation to the population of the three regions. Then the result turns out to be different. This is made clear by figure 3.

Figure 3

Source: Migration lists in church records
Fig. 3. Emigration to America from outer, central and inner Sogn
1839-1855. Percentage of average population.

The three columns in the diagram show the dimensions of the emigration to America in percentage of the average population. Here it is central Sogn which looms highest. From 1839 until 1855 emigrants numbered an astonishing 18.7 percent of the average population of this region. That is to say that emigration intensity in central Sogn was about twice as high as in inner Sogn, where the corresponding figure was 9.5 percent. From outer Sogn there was scarcely any emigration at this time: only 0.6 percent of the average population left for America.

Figure 4 shows curves for the emigration intensity per 1,000 of the average population in central and inner Sogn.

Figure 4

Fig. 4. Emigrants per 1,000 average population per year.
Inner and central Sogn, 1839-1855.

It is clear that the emigration movement had its origin in central Sogn. Emigrants left from central Sogn in both 1839 and 1843; not until 1844 did registered America migrants leave inner Sogn. Central Sogn also had the highest emigration intensity throughout this period, except for 1855. The differences were greatest during the earliest period and also during the top year, 1854.

This is very interesting and quite surprising. The differences between central and inner Sogn were marked. From the point of view of the traditional explanations, with heavy emphasis on “population pressure” and “overpopulation” as causes of the emigration movement, it is strange indeed that the emigration intensity was strongest in the central communities. It has been difficult to prove that there was any strong population pressure in these areas. To the contrary, it is most reasonable to maintain that central Sogn was the region where there was the least population pressure. Nevertheless, proportionately far more people emigrated from these communities than from the other districts in Sogn.

In order to come closer to the answer as to why these people left for America, it would be of interest to find out what social status and occupational background or means of subsistence the emigrants had. Unfortunately the information in the church records concerning such matters is meager and unreliable. Nevertheless, it is possible to estimate the number of emigrants in the three following groups: farmers, laborers or servants, and cotters, and to compare this to the size of these groups in the population of central and inner Sogn. {12} The conclusions are as follows: it was the laborers or servants who had the highest emigration intensity, both in central and inner Sogn. This could probably have been expected. Servants were young, unestablished people who were readily mobile; but at the same time it may seem peculiar that so many of them could finance the passage to America. It seems as if there was about the same emigration intensity among farmers as among cotters, both in central and inner Sogn. In inner Sogn it seems reasonable to assume that a few more farmers than cotters emigrated.

Seen in connection with the problem under examination, it is this relationship between the farmer emigration and the cotter emigration which is the most interesting. If the traditional explanations - “population pressure” and “overpopulation” - are accepted as the main causes of the emigration movement, it must seem odd that the emigration intensity among those who controlled the resources (the farmers) was just as great as, or greater than, among the propertyless cotters. Probably a contributory explanation may be that those who left for America were not from the very poorest classes, as the passage itself was so expensive. It is, nevertheless, difficult to place conclusive emphasis on this explanation since so many unestablished servants and laborers managed to finance the trip to America.

In his analysis of the emigrants from Balestrand, Jon Alan Gjerde has found the same social composition of the emigrant mass as that arrived at here: a large number of those who left during this first period of the movement were farmers or children of farmers. {13} He also claims that the farmers who emigrated were above the average in wealth.

Rasmus Sunde has reached about the same conclusion with respect to the emigrants from Vik. Farmers constituted a large proportion of the emigrants; and of 59 farmers who left during the years 1839-1855, 26 came from “large” and 16 from “medium-sized” farms. {14}

WHY DID THE SOGNINGS GO TO AMERICA?

The time is now ripe for a new appraisal of the background and causes of the early emigration from Sogn.

Traditionally too much emphasis has been placed on “population pressure” and “overpopulation” as explanations. It is doubtful that there was any strong population press in Sogn at the time when the emigration started; in any case, the emigration movement was strongest from the central communities, which according to most of the other criteria had the least population pressure. When, in addition, it is revealed that at least as large a proportion of farmers as of cotters emigrated, one is forced to look for other explanations.

No new infallible answer is forthcoming as to why so many emigrated from the Sogn communities during these years. But some factors can be suggested which may offer alternative approaches.

It is reasonable to believe that the great emigration of servants and laborers is an indication that many young and un-established people looked with misgivings at future prospects in the district. It is also reasonable to assume that population growth was a contributory factor in this case. But the explanations based on population pressure and overpopulation have likely been focused too one-sidedly on purely material, purely economic conditions. There can be reasons for holding fast to the idea that population growth was a decisive factor behind the emigration wave, but the perspective must be widened beyond the usual point of view. The effects of the population increase were not limited to purely economic matters, but had a strong influence on the whole social and cultural life of the rural communities.

Gjerde places great emphasis on just such factors when he tries to explain why so many people left Balestrand. He argues convincingly that they looked with anxiety at the future, and that thoughts about their children’s prospects were of decisive importance for very many of those who chose to emigrate. {15} Concern for their children could give relatively wealthy farmers rational grounds for breaking away, because only one of the children could inherit the farm, while the future would be uncertain for all the younger siblings. By going to America a farm family could entertain good hopes of acquiring sufficient land to give all the children a livelihood better than that which anyone in the home community enjoyed. The information about conditions in America which reached the Sogn communities during the 1840s and 1850s gave clear evidence of this. Such information came through letters from earlier emigrants and from newspapers and books which discussed life in the New World. The information obtained about conditions in America was, to be sure, exaggerated at times, but essentially it was correct: possibilities and resources in America were far richer than in the communities at home.

Emigration to America appeared as a new alternative for the Sognings during the 1840s. When they evaluated their prospects for the future, they had one possibility which had not been there earlier. Consequently, it is not necessary to assume that living conditions had worsened in order to explain why so many emigrated.

This is a general explanation of the emigration, which in and of itself does not explain why emigration intensity differed in the different parts of Sogn. When emigration was heaviest from the central communities during the earliest period this apparently grew out of the fact that the first emigrants, more or less by chance, came from Vik. The emigration wave then spread in central and inner Sogn like rings in the water, and was during the earliest period strongest in Vik and the communities nearby. Information about conditions in America came back to Vik in the form of letters from the earliest emigrants. The letters likely made a strong impression and must be reckoned as important liberating causes of the great emigration wave from 1843 onward.

The fact that emigration from Sogn started in Vik and was most intense in the nearest communities up to 1855 can thus be regarded as a chance happening - how much of a chance it was can, of course, be argued. If the first emigrants had come from inner Sogn, from Luster or Lærdal, the picture might have been quite different. The contagious effect of the first emigration seems to be the best explanation of the stronger emigration intensity in central Sogn at this time.

It is more difficult to explain the enormous difference in emigration intensity which existed between the communities of central and inner Sogn on the one hand and the communities in outer Sogn and the rest of the county on the other. The traditional explanations of the differences in emigration intensity between inner and outer communities stress that there was less population pressure in the outer regions, and that the fishing industry was of great importance there.

The obvious conclusion is that there is reason to de-emphasize the importance of the dissimilar population pressures. In Sogn the population growth was stronger in the outer regions than in the central communities during the first half of the century, at the same time that the emigration movement was strongest in central Sogn - where the population was lowest in relation to the tax rolls. It is difficult to quantify the importance of fishing to the livelihood of people in the communities closest to the sea and the degree to which it was this industry that kept people in outer Sogn from emigrating. But one should be careful not to place too much emphasis on fishing in this connection. Emigration during this period was also of little importance from the parish of Lavik, which included communities far up the Sognefjord where fishing scarcely had any greater importance than in the communities of central Sogn.

All of this proves that there are many unsolved questions connected with Norwegian emigration research. The great regional differences in emigration intensity are, as yet, not satisfactorily explained.

Notes

<1> Andreas Holmsen, “Økonomisk og sosial historie,” in Norske Bygder, 4 (Bergen, 1937), 80-93.

<2> Rasmus Sunde, “Emigration from the District of Sogn, 1839-19 15,” trans. by C. A. Clausen, in Norwegian-American Studies, 29 (Northfield, Minnesota, 1983), 111-126. The article is based on a thesis titled “Ei undersøking av utvandringa til Amerika frå Vik i Sogn 1839-1915,” presented to the History Department of the University of Trondheim, 1974.

<3> Sources used are Regjeringskommisjonen, 1807-18 12, and the census for each decade beginning in 1835.

<4> The methodology has been developed by Kåre Lunden. See Lunden, “Poteta og den raskare folketalsvoksteren i Noreg frå 1815,” in Historisk Tidsskrift, no. 4, 1975, 275-3 15.

<5> For details of making these adjustments see Engesæter, Rift om brødet, 47.

<6> See Lunden, “Poteta og den raskare,” 289.

<7> See Engesæter, Rift om brødet, 59-62, and also Engesæter, “Sogndalsfjøra 1801-1875. Trekk ved den sosiale og økonomiske historia i ein strandstad,” (cand. philol. thesis, University of Bergen, 1976), and Hallvard Jansen, “Framvoksteren av strandstaden Lærdalsøyri 1801-1865” (cand. philol. thesis, University of Bergen, 1979).

<8> Information about the average value of the tax dollar in the records, “Skyiddalerens gjennemsnittspriser,” vol. 2 of Department of Agriculture archives in the National Archives, Oslo.

<9> Records of Department of Church and Education, National Archives. Poor Relief (fattigvesenet), answers to circular dated April 18, 1848. Packet 105.

<10> Anders Ohnstad, “Dei indre fjordbygdene på veg til pengehushald,” academic thesis, published in Tidsskrift, no. 13 (Leikanger, 1948), 41.

<11> The published five-year reports of county governors (amtmenn) contain information on wages.

<12> Engesæter, Rift om brødet, 90-96.

<13> Jon Alan Gjerde, “Peasants into Bourgeoisie: the Migration from Balestrand” (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1982), 203-204, 214.

<14> Sunde “Ei undersøking av utvandringa,” 133.

<15> Gjerde “Peasants into Bourgeoisie,” 207-210.

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