NAHA Header

NAHA Logo

From the Archives
    by Forrest Brown (Volume 33: Page 341)

Many accessions to the Archives are additions to existing collections. Two collections which continue to grow rapidly are Congregations and Family Histories and Genealogies. A number of anniversary publications were added to the first collection, which now fills thirty-eight boxes. A wealth of materials about Chicago area churches, Lutheran and non-Lutheran, was assembled and contributed by Bert Benson. The Family Histories collection now fills thirty-six boxes and dozens of clothbound family histories have also been added to the library collection. Notable recent family histories were published by NAHA members Sanford K. Fosholt, Ann Urness Gesme, and Arlene J. Pettersen, all of whom have published earlier books on other family lines. Many family histories include much general community history. Merle Gregerson’s "Norsk Turkey River Settlement, 1852—1982" treats a group of linked families in that community of northeast Iowa. Dalton C. Bergan’s histories of the Bergan and Hugos-Hinoien families provide details on the development of several Minnesota, northwestern North Dakota, and Canadian communities. Family photographs in many of these family histories provide a rich visual documentation of immigrant life.

Nearly 125 new collections have been added to the Archives since the last report, bringing the total number of collections to more than 1,500. Collections vary greatly in size, from a single item to the Rølvaag papers filling fifty manuscript boxes. Four of the recently added collections (Erickson, Farseth, and Fletre) fill four boxes each. Most materials are manuscript or typescript, but many are photocopies of materials in private hands or other collections. Many collections include pamphlets, articles from periodicals, and newspaper clippings. Since it is impossible to describe all the new collections, the following notes should be considered as representative examples.

Preparation of the Chicago history by Odd Lovoll brought to the Archives many collections. Helen Svensson Fletre (1909—1987) was a prominent member of the Chicago Norwegian colony from 1954 when she and her husband Lars Fletre settled there. She was active in many Norwegian groups and activities and wrote and translated extensively for the newspaper Vinland. Her papers therefore touch many aspects of the life of the colony and complement the large collection of her husband’s papers (eleven boxes) already in the Archives. The papers of Laurel Neidig, editor of Vinland 1977—1982, cover a similar range of activities.

The First Vice President of the Association, Rolf Erickson, has contributed papers which document his wide-ranging scholarly interests and involvement in Scandinavian-American activities, including studies of Norwegian-American artistic and musical life, family history, and library collections. The papers of Harriet Nordhagen, a native of Drammen who settled in Chicago in the mid1920s, and John Kallestad, a master mariner who came from Kristiansand in 1921, reflect life in the Norwegian colony during an earlier period.

Scholarly treatments of Scandinavian life in Chicago have also been added to the Archives. William K. Beatty has contributed articles on medical affairs, including biographical articles on the prominent doctors Niles T. Quales and Petra Marie Dahl. Much material has been added to existing collections on Chicago hospitals sponsored by Norwegian Americans. Several academic dissertations treat Chicago topics like "The Swedish maid, 1910—1915" (Stina L. Hirsch, 1985); "The Swedes of Chicago" (Gustav E. Johnson, 1940); and "The Pioneer Norwegian community in Chicago before the Great Fire" (Man Lund Wright, 1958). Christian Nielsen’s typewritten history of the Chicago Danish colony, 1837—1927, covers that Scandinavian group.

Norwegian-American participation in the arts arouses increasing interest and inspires additions to the Archives. Several additions tell of musical activity, especially choral. Alf Lunder Knudsen’s dissertation (1989) is on "The Norwegian male chorus in America." Paul Benson’s 1985 paper "The empire of song" surveys the development of choral music at Scandinavian-American Lutheran colleges, and provided the basis for his article in volume 31 of Studies. Ole Hanche-Olsen contributed his manuscript "biography/documentary novel" about his uncle Ole Windingstad, a prominent conductor of choral and instrumental groups in the New York City area from his emigration in 1906 until his death in 1959. Increasingly material is being made available on artists. Katherine Mather Littell has contributed a number of articles she has written on Norwegian-born Finn Haakon Frolich (1868—1947) who was a sculptor active in California during the first half of the century; at one time he was a member of the Jack London circle. She has also given materials about Christian Jorgensen (1859—1935) who emigrated at the age of ten to California and became a distinguished landscape painter specializing in views of Yosemite, the California missions, and old San Francisco. Information has been added about Brynjulf Strandenaes, a Norwegian portrait and landscape artist who had a New York studio in the 192 Os. An article by Mona Lange McCroskey tells about Henry O. Jaastad (1872—1965) who emigrated as a boy from Hardanger to Wisconsin and became a prominent builder and architect in Tucson, Arizona, as well as mayor of the city from 1932 to 1947. Ivar Viehe-Naess (1870—1959) in his autobiography tells about his activities as architect in Chicago following his emigration in 1891. A number of catalogues of art exhibits have been added: the Norwegian-American Art Exhibit (Chicago, 1920—1930), Norse Art League (Chicago, 1931), Society of Scandinavian-American Artists (Brooklyn, 1932) and the Norheim Art Studio (Brooklyn, 1948—1952).

A number of new collections treat particular Norwegian-American communities. Avis Anderson contributed a thesis on "Scandinavians in Dawson County, Montana" (1973). A special 1976 issue of the Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Daily Telegram covers the history of the Chippewa Valley, including articles on Waldemar Ager and Norwegian folk culture. Patricia M. Wiff’s "The lefse and lutefisk belt: a history of the village and township of Martell, 1840—1920" (Pierce county, Wisconsin, 1983) includes excerpts from many original documents, transcripts of early church records, and a chronicle of events (including births, marriages, and deaths) for each year from 1878 to 1920. Lillian Knudsen Quamme, as the "self-appointed historian of Dwight, North Dakota," has contributed a "Centennial Review" (1974) and "A history of Wild Rice Lutheran Church, 1878—1938." M. David Haugen has collected a number of family reminiscences and historical accounts about the communities in Rice and Otter Tail counties, Minnesota, where his families settled, including information on his relative Haldor E. Boen, editor and politician.

Scholarly studies, in addition to those already mentioned, include Lars Erik Larson’s "Norwegian Emigration to Canada, 1850—1874" (1988); Heather D. Prince’s "Norwegian Clothing and Textiles in Valhalla Centre, Alberta" (1988);John R. Jenswold, "The Hidden Settlement: Norwegian Americans Encounter the City" (1990); David C. Mauk’s "The Colony that Rose from the Sea: The Norwegians in the Red Hook Section of Brooklyn" (1991); April Rose Schultz’s "‘A Peculiar People’: Celebration, Historical Memory, and the Creation of Ethnic Identity among Norwegian Americans in the 1920s" (1991), a study of the 1925 Centennial; Erik Luther Williamson’s studies of Lutheran church life in North Dakota, including the Ladies Aid societies (1987) and the short-term parochial school (1991); Glen Ellen Alderton’s study (1989) of M. Truman Fossum, who was born in North Dakota in 1912 and became the "father of floricultural economics." Stephen J. Keillor has written a study of "Rural Norwegian-American reading societies of the late nineteenth century" (1989), which provides a context for the recently added accessions list of 409 titles owned by the Fremad Reading Society of Beaver Creek, Wisconsin.

More and more translations of Norwegian-language publications are coming to the Archives. Clarence Clausen translated reports which Carl F. Solberg (1833—1924) contributed to the newspaper Emigranten in 1862 on the Fifteenth Wisconsin ("Norwegian") Regiment. Harry T. Cleven has translated Kristofer Janson’s historical novel on this regiment which was first published in 1887. These complement Della Kittleson Catuna and Clarence Clausen’s translation of Waldemar Ager’s book, "Colonel Heg and his Boys," on the regiment which was added earlier. Neil A. Hofland and his parents, translated the voluminous (520 pages) local history of Årdal, Sogn og Fjordane, published in 1932. Ansgar Sovik has contributed a "somewhat abbreviated" translation of L. M. Biørn’s biography of P. A. Rasmussen, published in 1905. Biørn’s grandson, Boral Biorn, has written a biography of his grandfather, utilizing family materials and cast in the form of an autobiography (1989).

Increasing Norwegian interest in what happened to their emigrants has resulted in production of a number of compilations, printed or computer print-out, of emigrants from various communities, including Vang and Sør-Aurdal in Valdres, Hallingdal, Lesja, Hjartdal, Østfold, Biri/Snertingdal and Vardal/Gjøvik, Vik i Sogn, Skatval, Vrådal, and others.

Many new collections consist of more traditional personal papers such as correspondence, diaries, reminiscences. A few examples will show the range of experience represented.

Reidar N. Qualley (1864—1952) emigrated in 1890 from Vestre Slidre, Valdres, to Madison, Wisconsin, where he became active in trade union activities and state government and played a role in many Norwegian societies and activities.

Søren S. Urberg (1861—1930) emigrated from Aust-Agder in 1889, graduated from Luther Seminary in 1893, and spent the remainder of his life as pastor in Blair, Wisconsin.

The family of Assor Halstenson Groth (1815—1907) emigrated from Hol, Hallingdal, around 1850, and Assor joined the Clausen colony at St. Ansgar, Iowa, in 1854. He helped many Norwegians find homes in northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and Dakota, and carried on an extensive correspondence with friends and relatives.

Olaus M. C. Farseth (1852—1913) emigrated from Vega, Helgeland, to Canton, South Dakota, in 1882. Ordained in 1887, he served parishes in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. He wrote extensively and served as editor of several religious journals. Forty letters from his fellow Nordlending O. E. Rølvaag, which were quoted extensively in the Jorgenson-Solum biography of Rølvaag are included.

Dreng Bjornaraa (1903—1987) had a career as a journalist, educator, federal government official, and public relations officer for United States Steel Corporation. He collected newspaper clippings on many Norwegian-American activities.

Helle Mengshoel (1863—1929) with her husband Emil L. Mengshoel published in Minneapolis from 1903 to 1925 a Norwegian newspaper representing the Socialist party, writing most of the contents themselves. A microfilm copy of the newspaper is in the collection. She corresponded with a number of Norwegian Socialist leaders.

Karl S. Birkeland (1853—1919) emigrated from Sunnfjord to Michigan in 1872 and became a farmer in Oceana county. Letters from family and friends during the next several decades comprise the collection.

Anna Eriksen (1873—1895) emigrated from Mo i Rana about 1890 to Faribault, Minnesota, where she worked as a servant. Her letters to a friend comment on Norwegian-American religious life and chronicle her declining health, probably the result of tuberculosis.

The letters of the Naesheim-Moe families, 1851—1908, report on life in various communities in Wisconsin and Iowa.

Carl J. Foss emigrated from Sør-Trøndelag in 1902 and settled on the Minnesota Iron Range. In "The Immigrants: An Autobiography" he tells, in the third person, the story of his life as a builder and engineer in the American West and especially in Alaska, where he worked for the United States Army Engineers and the Civil Aeronautics Administration.

Art Brunstad (born 1908) emigrated in 1919 from Rise near Arendal to Washington State. He became a chemist for the Hanford

Atomic Energy Works and from 1958 to 1972 was with the Atomic Energy Commission.

Erik T. Rogne (1858—1936) emigrated from Østre Slidre, Valdres, in 1872 and had a long career as a Lutheran pastor in a number of different states.

Letters (1875—1888) to Bertha Olsdatter Fjeld Johnson (born 1853) who emigrated to Blair, Wisconsin, were written by her mother in Fåberg and her future husband, a railroad station agent in various American towns.

Eva Lund Haugen in "An Editor Chooses America: The Story of Einar Lund" fills in and corrects previous accounts of the life of her father, editor of Decorah Posten from 1946 to 1962.

<<   Previous Page   |   Next Page   >>


 
To the Home Page