Oral History Project

NAHA, in collaboration with the Sons of Norway International, launched the Post World War II Norwegian-American Immigration oral history project in August 2012. The goal of the oral history project is to collect and archive first person accounts of Norwegian-Americans who immigrated in the latter half of the 20th century.

If you or someone you know is a Norwegian-American who emigrated after World War II, you can participate by recording an oral history to submit to the project. Sons of Norway members who conduct an immigrant interview can count their work towards a Cultural Skills pin. An oral history interview can be used as an elective activity in the units on literature, genealogy and more. To learn more about Cultural Skills and how to use your oral history interview to earn a pin, email culturalskills@sofn.com or call 1(800) 945-8851.

Download Oral History Guidelines (655k, PDF)

Recording an Oral History

Why is the Norwegian-American Historical Association interested in the post-World War II Norwegian immigration?

Much has been researched and written about the Norwegian migration to the United States between 1825 and the first decades of the 20th century. The Great Depression and World War II caused Norwegian immigration to the United States to come to a virtual standstill. While the subsequent number of immigrants has never reached anything close to those of the previous century, Norwegians continue to migrate to the United States at a steady rate. The motivation behind those immigrations has not been studied systematically. Collecting the stories of these recent immigrants through a carefully constructed oral interview process will serve as original source material for scholars and family historians interested in this immigrant population.

On whom should the oral histories focus?

Our primary focus for this project is the first-person accounts of Norwegian nationals who have permanently immigrated to the Unites States or Canada since 1945. We are interested in collecting stories from men and women in all walks of life, at any stage of life.

Who should conduct the oral history interview?

Oral interviews can be conducted by family, friends and fellow members of organizations where post-World War II immigrants are members, such as fraternal societies, churches, lag societies and Norwegian cultural organizations. In most cases, the interviewer should be personally known to the interview subject; knowledgeable about the oral interview process, or willing to learn about oral interview techniques and best practices; and familiar with the technology required to record the interview.

How should oral histories be submitted to the Norwegian-American Historical Association?

We prefer the oral histories to be submitted on a compact disk using a .wav, .mp3 or .mp4 format; however cassette tapes and other digital formats will be accepted. You should also include a completed Oral History Submission Form with each compact disk or tape to aid in indexing. In addition, an Oral History Release Form, completed and signed by the interviewer and the interviewee, will need to be submitted for each oral history subject. You’ll find the forms in the appendix at the back of Oral History Guidelines.

How will the oral histories be used?

The Norwegian-American Historical Association will make the oral histories available to researchers, scholars, NAHA members, family historians and the subject’s family members in accordance with our archive policies. When permissible, the oral histories may be included in presentations, exhibitions, and on the NAHA website.

Who can I contact for more information?

You can send an email to:
call us at 507-786-3221;
or send a letter to:
NAHA Oral History Project
1510 St. Olaf Ave.
Northfield, MN 55057