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From the Archives
    by Beulah Folkedahl (Volume 21: Page 289)

In November, 1960, the Norwegian-American Historical Association, in conjunction with St. Olaf College, began the long-delayed task of organizing and describing its considerable body of manuscript source material, housed in the Rølvaag Memorial Library at the college. This work, a preliminary to professional cataloguing, is directed by the association’s secretary assisted by an archives committee, and is being performed by Miss Beulah Folkedahl. Significant listings of the papers of individual Norwegian Americans have appeared in the News Letter. Miss Folkedahl, at the request of the editor, has agreed to prepare informal "Notes from the Archives" for this and subsequent volumes of NorwegianAmerican Studies. It is hoped that these notes will alert scholars to the variety and richness of the collection. K.O.B

Nordlyset’s subscription list for 1847—49, included in a bound volume found in the D. G. Ristad Papers, is organized according to states, counties, and post offices. Maanedstidende’s subscription list, contained in the same volume, is similarly organized but includes no dates. Financial reports add to the value of Maanedstidende’s list. Both were pioneer Norwegian newspapers published in Wisconsin.

A document found in the Ole A. Buslett Papers is reminiscent of the Norwegian korbrev (contract). Drawn up in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, in 1886, it is a bond between a father and a son [290] that stipulates in detail the arrangements whereby the parents transferred their farm to the son on condition he furnish them a sum of money and maintenance and medical care for the remainder of their lives.

An album containing excellent photographs of prominent pioneer Lutheran church leaders and their wives was donated by Ingeborg and Karen Larsen of Northfield, Minnesota.

A typewritten copy of Laurits J. Fribert’s Haandbog for emigranter til Amerikas vest, med anvisning for overrejsen samt beskrivelse af livet og agerdyrkningsmaaden, nærmest i Viskonsin (Christiania, 1847) contains 96 pages. Fribert discusses Indians, church, government, disease, and emigration, but devotes more than half of the pages to agriculture. He had been a Danish official and was a farmer in the Pine Lake settlement in Wisconsin, 1843—47[?}.

In the manuscripts collection are three letters written in English during the late 1840’s to persons in Kendall County, New York. Nelson Nelsone (Nels Nelson Hersdal?), probably a slooper, writes of his agricultural pursuits and of Mormon and Jansonist preachers in La Salle County, Illinois. The author of the other two letters, Harriet Pierson, was a student in Hartland, Michigan. Photostatic copies of several Elling Eielsen letters include one in which the pioneer preacher refers to C. L. Clausen, J. W. C. Dietrichson, Ole Andrewson, and Paul Andersen. Other letters in the collection are from Muskego, 1854; Freeborn County, Minnesota, 1861; and Four Mile Prairie, Texas, 1867.

Typewritten copies of the Olaf S. Houkom America letters (1870—83) were donated to the archives during the early 1930’s by John A. Houkom. Both father and son were clergymen in the Lutheran Free Church. The letters were written from Highland Prairie and La Crescent, Minnesota; Coon Prairie, Sparta, and La Crosse, Wisconsin; and from Augsburg Seminary in Minneapolis. The author describes his journey from Norway to Coon Prairie; tells of his experiences as farm hand, railroad section worker, and teacher; and characterizes representatives of groups that he met. He also discusses such church leaders as August Weenaas, Bernt J. Muus, Sven Oftedal, and Georg Sverdrup.

The Ingebret Eriksen Papers (1854—92), donated by Judge [291] Alfred O. Erikson, Chicago, in the late 1930’s, include original letters from Lutheran clergymen about doctrinal controversy, several Civil War letters from Ericksen’s relatives written from Tennessee in 1865, a letter dated Trondhjem, 1890, from Pastor O. F. Duus, others from relatives and friends, and a bound volume of typewritten copies. Those on doctrinal matters were written by A. Mikkelsen, Chicago and Sioux Falls; H. A. Preus, Keyser, Wisconsin; J. Krohn and N. J. Ellestad, Chicago; W. J. L. Frich, La Crosse; and H. G. Stub, Luther Seminary, St. Paul. Those written by friends and relatives are from Mayville and Fargo, North Dakota; Green Bay and Manitowoc, Wisconsin; and McIntosh, Minnesota. Ingebret Eriksen was a farmer and merchant in Scandinavia, Wisconsin.

Another group of Civil War letters, mainly from Kentucky and Tennessee, describe battles and other war experiences, and mention prices of provisions.

The letters of J. O. Hougen, a Lutheran minister, contain material about church disputes in the 1880’s.

G. M. Bruce’s "Lidt pionærhistorie," a manuscript account in the Bruce Papers, tells of childhood days on a claim near Yankton, South Dakota. Most of the 10 pages are devoted to a description of the fearful blizzard of January, 1888.

The "Biography of Hans Helliksen Ramberg and His Family," a typewritten copy of which was donated by Hans Ramberg, Cambridge, Wisconsin, was written by Severt Hansen Ramberg, Madison, Wisconsin, in 1912. It is an anecdotal account of the family’s migrations (1855—64) from Norway to Wisconsin, to Minnesota, to Kansas, and back to Wisconsin. It deals with Indians, slavery, weather, farming, church, and social life. The original manuscript is owned by Mrs. Hans Ramberg, Cambridge, Wisconsin.

A two-volume "Referat protokol" (minutes) and a "Journal" of the Arne Garborg Club in Chicago for the early 1890’s were donated by Birger Osland, former treasurer of the Norwegian-American Historical Association. The club, organized in 1891, heard lectures on such subjects as "Labor and Wages," "Capital," "Realism and Romanticism," and "Woman Suffrage."

A "Protokol for Den Norske Dramatisk Forening i Chicago, Illinois" (Minutes of the Norwegian Dramatic Society in Chicago, [292] Illinois) contains the bylaws, detailed secretary’s minutes, treasurer’s reports, and printed programs of the society’s frequent dramatic productions. The club was organized in 1868.

The logbooks of Olaf Olsen, who migrated to the United States in 1890, cover his activities as machinist and ship’s engineer, largely with Atlantic coastal steamship lines, for more than three decades.

The Olav Stokkestad America letters (1885—97), written to Kristian Prestgard, editor of Decorah-posten, and found in his papers, are unique in that they discuss cultural life, especially in urban centers, rather than economic conditions in rural areas. The subjects are books, newspapers, libraries, the theater, forums on spiritual matters led by Kristofer Janson, F. A. Schmidt, and others, political campaigns, and working hours and conditions. Most of the letters were written from Benson and Swift Falls, Minnesota, and from Minneapolis and New York City. Stokkestad was an artist, photographer, and theater decorator.

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