The Norwegian-American Historical Association is home to an extensive manuscript collection that includes letters, diaries, journals and ledgers, newspaper clippings, obituaries, congregational records, family and local histories, and other resources related to Norwegians in America. The collection also includes photographs illustrating many aspects of Norwegian-American history.
Ole E. Rølvaag, the Association’s first secretary and archivist, was an energetic collector. J. Jørgen Thompson, who served as secretary from 1931 to 1958, added a large quantity of material. Carlton C. Qualey served NAHA for a time as a field agent and collected material that might otherwise have been lost. A large portion of the collection, however, stems from donations made, or uncovered, by members of the association.
Proper organization of the manuscripts began in 1960 when Beulah Folkedahl became the Association’s first curator. Most of the backlog of unprocessed papers was in organized form when she died in 1971. Charlotte Jacobson, a former librarian at St. Olaf College, became curator in 1974. Forrest Brown, formerly the head librarian at Rølvaag Memorial Library succeeded Jacobson in 1990, and retired in 2005. Most recently, Gary De Krey served as archivist, with Jeff Sauve as associate archivist, until their retirements. Our current archivist, Kristina Warner, joined the NAHA staff in 2018.
The Association originally amassed a large number of Norwegian-American books, periodicals, and newspapers, which are now housed in St. Olaf Special Collections. To view these items, please contact the library staff. Our collection of bygdebøker (regional history books) is now available as a non-circulating collection in the library. They can be viewed during normal library hours without an appointment.
Interested in learning more about our collections? Start your search here.