Studies and Records
Published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association,
Copyright © 1944 by the Norwegian-American Historical Association
The theme of this volume, which has been put together by the editor in the midst of war work, may, at first thought, seem remote from the concerns of America at war. I suspect, however, that the remoteness is more apparent than real. For these studies have to do with understanding some of the values whose permanence in our civilization has been at stake in the war.
The crisis of the war is a time for reflecting upon the meaning of our institutions and ideas, for looking at the past as well as toward the future. And one of the first needs of the time is that of understanding our civilization and ourselves in the light of history. Only in that light can we get a true perspective upon the problems of the day and hour.
This is the general frame of reference for a volume of studies in American social and cultural history that probe into certain aspects of Norwegian immigration to the United States, Norwegian-American pioneering, immigrant backgrounds and problems.
As we publish these studies, thousands of the children and grandchildren of the immigrants whose story we tell are serving in the armed forces of the country to which their ancestors came seeking opportunity and freedom. They are defending values that made America the Promised Land to the immigrants of the nineteenth century.
The varied contributions in this volume carry out the promise of the general title used for this series. They are studies and records. One is a study of a "migration of skills " -- the story of trained engineers and architects who pioneered technical frontiers. Another is an immigrant letter of more than a hundred years ago that describes an exploration of the frontiers of settlement. The roster of an immigrant ship of 1840 is included. There are letters of long ago that take one behind the scenes of emigration. And the volume includes a rollicking ballad of Ole Bull's immigrant colony of the 1850's.
An analysis of the mind of a pioneer Norwegian-American newspaper editor is of interest for immigrant political and social history. One author calls up memories of a Lutheran parsonage in the Middle West in frontier days. Another, exploiting hitherto unused archives, tells of the workings of American immigration policy in a time when this country "called for immigrants."
The volume contains a chapter in the educational history of the Norwegian Lutherans in America -- the story of their academies. It also relates the saga of a forgotten inventor whose experiences come alive in a sheaf of "America letters." There is a brief account of an immigrant whose story has its setting in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. And, as usual, there is a listing of recent publications that are of special interest to those concerned about understanding the Norwegian factor in American life.
Theodore C. Blegen