Studies and Records
Published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association,
Copyright © 1965 by the Norwegian-American Historical Association
IN A wise appraisal of the independent historical society, I Dr. Whitehill speaks
of "a gratifying number of people" — amateurs as well as professionals —
who "cultivate the arts" and maintain the highest standards of historical
research and writing. The unselfish efforts of just such people provide the materials
for this, the twenty-second, volume of Studies, a series that is slowly piecing together
the colorful mosaic of Norwegian-American life.
Marion John Nelson draws on his knowledge of art through the ages to evaluate
the creative work of Lars Christenson, and interprets the carved wooden altar by this
folk artist with a warmth that comes from admiring a masterpiece. Similarly, Nina Draxten
presents, with sympathetic understanding, an artist of the written word and the improvised
stage: Kristofer Janson, whose lecture tour in 1879—80 brought poetry to the hearts of
immigrants in the Middle West and culminated in a blast against Lutheran orthodoxy.
Sverre Arestad once again takes the simple narrative of a transplanted Norwegian —
this time on the Montana farming frontier — and shows the story to be both rich in imagery
and informative of experience.
Malcolm Rosholt, who has hunted down available records in churches, courthouses,
and private dwellings, goes back to the beginnings of community life in Waupaca County,
Wisconsin; in a close examination of an early clergyman and a pioneer storekeeper, he
proves the value of local history when read in the light of universal experience. Carlton C.
Qualey, translating and fitting together seven America letters to Valdres made available
by Norwegian scholars, adds to our knowledge of the Atlantic crossing, the journey overland
from Quebec, and the transition to American patterns of life. Gerhard M. Cartford provides
an interesting insight into both Old World cultural contributions and New World influences
by studying the hymns sung by second-generation Norwegian Americans in the Lutheran
churches. And Barbara Levorsen draws for a second time on her phenomenal memory to
describe the securing and preparation of food in a Norwegian settlement in North Dakota,
and, more generally, to recall the grueling tasks of a pioneer woman.
The remaining three contributions constitute a species of stocktaking by the Norwegian-American Historical Association. Walter Muir Whitehill relates its program to that of other independent
societies, such as the Hakluyt Society in Britain and the Peabody Museum Marine Associates
in New England, and likens its publications to the New England Quarterly and the American
Neptune. Beulah Folkedahl, from her desk in the archives, reviews "Some Recent
Publications" of interest to association members, and writes a second installment of
informal notes that will alert scholars to the wealth of our source collections.
Kenneth O. Bjork
St. Olaf College