Ethnic Leadership and Midwestern Politics: Scandinavian-Americans and the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1914


If historians were once preoccupied with politics, they are no more. In the past century history has embraced the whole range of human activity. In the United States, Theodore C. Blegen and his colleagues in the early work of the Norwegian-American Historical Association were, in fact, among the pioneers of a broader conception of history than was then customary. Yet historians cannot, or at least ought not, avoid politics. Aristotle was right: humans are by nature political beings and politics is naturally an essential human activity. Whatever else history must do, then, it needs always to take politics into account.

The Norwegian-American Historical Association is therefore pleased to publish Jørn Brøndal’s study of Scandinavian-Americans in politics. His book, which originated as a dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Copenhagen, is noteworthy for its emphasis on the role played in American politics by coho9rts of ethic leaders. It is also an able contribution to an underdeveloped field, the comparative study of Scandinavian ethnic groups in the United States. In these respects his work complements other studies, including a number published by the Association itself, that have emphasized popular involvement in Norwegian-American politics or the careers in politics of single individuals.

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