Studies and Records
Published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association,
Copyright © 1959 by the Norwegian-American Historical Association
Variety in approach and maturity in judgment appropriately characterize this, the twentieth volume of Norwegian-American Studies and Records. The articles included deal with areas as distant as Mozambique and Alaska and with vocations as far apart as mining and welfare work. Each pa per contributes to a deepening and broadening understanding of the forces and events attendant on the Atlantic migration from Norway.
Ibsen, we learn, has become "one of the classics of the theater." Professor Einar Haugen performs a real service by showing that the Norwegian dramatist’s gradual acceptance in America was a "test of literacy and intellectual maturity." Mr. Mario S. De Pillis unearths a remarkable letter signed by seven Norwegian sloopers, together with a note by the almost legendary Cleng Peerson. He also re-emphasizes the fact that the "Restoration," though small, was heavily laden with "the same religious and social aspirations that have drawn people to America from the beginning," and advances the interesting theory that Peerson was "a communitarian by conviction."
Professor Clausen submits an America letter from the hand of a gifted and courageous woman, Elise Wærenskjold, who as early as 1852 thought Texas "best of the states to migrate to" and poured coals on the head of a Frenchman who believed otherwise. Professor Munch, seeking a closer relationship between history and the "humanistic" sociology that he advocates, points to the role sociologists can play in interpreting the "social structure" of the American community.
The sailor not infrequently combines a poet’s sensitivity with a skipper’s eye for colorful detail — and the result is a delightful sea yarn. Captain Bratrud, a storyteller with a sense of humor, describes an "immigrant journey" to America that began in 1895 and took him to Seattle in 1902. As one of many Norwegian captains on the Pacific coast, he continued for half a century to sail in many waters, including those of Alaska. Dr. Gravem, who set out from Stockton, California, for the Seward Peninsula in 1900, during the gold rush to Nome, was one of a sturdy group of men who gave a Scandinavian coloring to Alaskan life. His account of pioneering in the tundra has a special interest because of Alaska’s recent entry into the Union.
The man who introduced the modern labor movement into the Scandinavian North — Marcus Thrane — deserves to be better known than he is for his role in the American immigrant story. Professor Westergaard reveals Thrane’s thinking and feeling in 1850—51, as these were expressed in letters to a liberal friend in Sweden. Mr. Bronner reviews a century of Norwegian studies in American institutions of learning, and concludes his article with bold suggestions for guiding similar studies in the future.
Miss Folkedahl offers, in translated and edited form, the diary of Sister Elizabeth Fedde, dedicated deaconess from Norway who worked during the 1880’s among her sick and destitute countrymen in America’s largest port city. Helen Thane Katz contributes a classified list of articles that have appeared in volumes 1—20 of this series. Professor John M. Gaus, in reviewing West of the Great Divide, reveals an under standing of the philosophy that undergirds the Association’s work. The volume concludes with the sixteenth installment of our bibliography of recent publications in Norwegian American history, prepared by Professor Clausen.
Kenneth O. Bjork
St. Olaf College