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In contrast to some other Western European countries especially the major colonial powers with large industrial economies such as France and Britain , the Scandinavian countries had little experience of immigration prior to the s. People have moved between the Nordic countries for centuries, not least as they were part of the same states in various constellations, and they still do. However, immigration in significant numbers from outside the region was rather limited until the post-war period and the economic boom in the s.

Since then and until recently , similar immigration patterns can be discerned across the three countries. In the s, an increased number of labour migrants came from Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, and Yugoslavia. After the economic recession in the early s, labour migration was consequently tightly restricted in all countries, but refugee numbers from then on increased resulting in migration to Scandinavia continuing.

Since the s, the Scandinavian countries have diverged in their immigration and integration policies. While rankings vary depending on the policy indices used and areas examined, researchers generally consider Denmark among the most restrictive countries in Western Europe today. Sweden is considered the most liberal and Norway somewhere in-between, recently leaning more toward the Danish model than the Swedish. During the same period, Norway introduced a mandatory integration program that immigrants must pass to obtain permanent residence, and most recently also introduced language requirements and a citizenship test as prerequisites for naturalisation, moving the country further in the Danish direction.

For most of the period from s to , Swedish policies have remained liberal. However, these laws are still more liberal than those of most other countries in Europe. Table 1 displays the requirements for citizenship in the three countries updated from Jensen, , page As can be seen, Denmark has made the most substantial changes, while Norway recently became more restrictive. Sweden has maintained a liberal citizenship regime throughout.

Researchers have suggested two alternative explanations; one grounded in conceptions of national identity, the other in party competition dynamics. These explanations are not mutually exclusive but may supplement each other to give a more nuanced account of the causes of Danish — and to some extent Norwegian — policy movement versus Swedish stability. Although the Scandinavian countries share some of the same basic values and norms, the way in which these values are understood and prioritised differ. In particular, social cohesion and conceptions of integration differ in significant ways, which are consequently reflected in policy developments.


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Party political dynamics can also help to explain the differences in the immigration and integration policies of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. One significant factor is the presence of a successful extreme right-wing party. Both Denmark and Norway have had long-standing experience with such parties. This is a more recent phenomenon in Sweden.

The presence of such parties is not itself sufficient to change government policy. The strategies of mainstream parties in response to the success of anti-immigrant parties and the different conditions for centre-right coalitions are also important factors. These factors influence whether immigration and integration issues become politicised and whether policy changes present themselves as necessary to the electorate. In Norway, centre-right parties have sought to defuse integration issues together with the centre-left, thereby seeking to create a strong norm for consensus around this policy area over the past 20 years.

Another significant transplanted skill was shipping. On the Great Lakes, Norwegian sailors and boat owners dominated as long as sailing vessels remained an important means of transportation. In approximately 65 percent of all sailors on Lake Michigan were Norwegian. Shipping was big on the eastern seaboard and the west coast as well. The coastal areas provided rich opportunity for fishing too.

Norwegians on the west coast and Alaska began to develop the halibut industry at the turn of the twentieth century. By about 95 percent of all halibut fishermen and an even higher percentage of the owners of halibut schooners were of Norwegian birth or descent. Traditional early employment for Norwegian women involved domestic and personal service. Accessibility to higher education gradually opened up new possibilities—especially for the American-born generations—in commerce, education, and in specialized professions. Looking at the occupational picture in , there is a striking social advance both for women and men.

Still Norwegians of both the first and second generation revealed a preference for farming, and men born in Norway were overrepresented in construction work. The evidence provided in the census indicates little occupational concentration among Norwegian Americans.

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Of employed persons 16 years old and over, only 4. Norwegians in America have participated in the formation of several aspects of the political culture and are to be found in conservative and liberal camps of both prominent political parties.

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Norwegians had a certain passion for the political arena. Familiarity with democratic reform and local self-government in Norway, a dislike of officialdom, and a heightened assertion encouraged them to participate in local government in America. From the community, they made their way to state and even national politics.

During the early decades of this century Norwegians in Minnesota and North Dakota were, for instance overrepresented in the state administrations as well as in the legislatures and Congress. Political affiliation, as expressed in a flourishing Norwegian immigrant press, was strongly influenced by the Free-Soil party.

In the late s, this same press abandoned the Democrats for Abraham Lincoln's Republican party, supporting its antislavery stance and for free distribution of frontier land to serious settlers. The Homestead Act of and the heroic participation of Norwegian Americans in the Civil War assured a strong loyalty to the Republican party and its ideals. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, however, other issues came to the fore and weakened Republican loyalties. In regions suffering from agricultural depression and exploitation by outside financial interests, independent political thought brought Norwegians into the agricultural protest embodied in the Populist movement.

This was especially the case in the wheat-growing regions of North Dakota and western Minnesota. From around the turn of the century the Progressive movement gained a broad Norwegian following and Norwegians exhibited great faith in the benefits of legislative reform. The Nonpartisan League, organized in North Dakota in , was further evidence of agrarian unrest. Norwegian farmers played a prominent role in its activities and advocacy, which included such socialist goals as public control and operation of grain silos, and the sale of wheat.

Verses on Norwegian emigration to America, 1853

This radical policy was, however, less a consequence of ethnic predispositions toward social reform than of economic self-interest and the problematic local conditions faced by wheat farmers. Norwegians were also attracted to the Socialist party, joining local socialist clubs, which again became members of the Scandinavian Socialist Union formed in Chicago in But they did not do so in great numbers.

Due to the high concentration of Norwegians in skilled occupations, especially in the building trades, they did, however, join labor unions in large numbers. The efforts of a Norwegian immigrant, Andrew Furuseth, to improve the working conditions for sailors, resulting in the Seamen's Act of , is one example of the significant contributions made by immigrants to the American union movement.

In the s Norwegians joined a national trend toward the Democratic party. The loyalty to the Republican party was significantly frayed as working class and reform-minded Norwegians took part in third-party movements, increasingly for Democrats, who seemed more committed to labor concerns and social justice than the Republicans. Republicanism remained common among middle- and upper-class Norwegian Americans, however. Norwegian members of both parties were concerned with prohibition. Under the banner of temperance and local prohibition of the sale of intoxicating beverages, Norwegian politicians gained the support of their compatriots and were elected to public office.

North Dakota, influenced by the agitation of the Norwegian American press, adopted a prohibition clause in its state constitution in Volstead, Republican congressman from Minnesota. Opposition to prohibition and the corruption and crime it yielded, paradoxically, strengthened the move toward the Democratic party, most especially among urban Norwegians.

Most Norwegians have viewed military service as an affirmation of American patriotism. The first fallen hero was a private in the war with Mexico who had Americanized his name to George Pilson. He had immigrated to Chicago and fell in in the bloody battle of Buena Vista, with Chicago newspapers claiming that "more patriotic blood does not enrich the field at Buena Vista than that of the Chicago Norwegian volunteer.


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In a patriotic spirit, Norwegian American societies and organizations published lists of "our boys" in the armed forces and memorialized the fallen of their nationality. During the summer of the U. Army established a Norwegian-speaking combat unit, the 99th Infantry Battalion, in case there should be an invasion of Norway. It consisted of immigrants and Norwegians born in America. Norwegian Americans cultivated bonds with Norway, sending gifts home often and offering aid during natural disasters and other hardships in Norway.

Relief in the form of collected funds was forthcoming without delay. Only during conflicts within the Swedish-Norwegian union, however, did Norwegian Americans become involved directly in the political life of Norway. Norwegians in America raised money to strengthen Norway's military defenses. As in any large population, certain members of the Norwegian American community have excelled in many disciplines. A sampling of group and individual achievements follows. Thorstein Veblen , a second-generation Norwegian, was a superb social critic. His best known work is The Theory of the Leisure Class , a savage attack on the wastefulness of American society.

Einar Haugen is a prominent linguist and professor emeritus at Harvard University. Marcus Lee Hansen , of Danish and Norwegian descent, was a pioneer immigration historian. Blegen was also a prominent historian of Norwegians in America, and his book Norwegian Migration: The American Transition was published in Agnes Mathilde Wergeland was a professor of history at the state university in Laramie, Wyoming, and the first Norwegian woman to earn a doctoral degree. Olive Fremstad was an internationally renowned Wagnerian opera singer.

Ole Bull was a well-known concert violinist. Melius Christiansen perfected a capella singing as director of the St. He has been called the "Music Master of the Middle West. Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen , a realistic novelist, literary critic, and social Darwinist, taught at Cornell and Columbia universities.

As I Remember Mama, Forbes's work became a hit Broadway play, a motion picture, and a television series. Celeste Holm , versatile actress of stage and screen, appeared on Broadway and in numerous motion pictures.

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Nelson Olson Nelson founded the N. Nelson Manufacturing Company, which became one of the world's largest building and plumbing supply companies. Ole Evinrude , a self-taught mechanical engineer, developed the idea of the outboard motor. He formed the Evinrude Company in Arthur Andersen was the founder of the world-famous accounting firm that bears his name. Conrad Hilton , Norwegian on his father's side, established one of the world's largest hotel chains and at the time of his death, owned first-class hotels worldwide. Lawson was editor and publisher of the Chicago Daily News, a philanthropist and a community leader.

Evjue gained great influence as the editor of the progressive and reform-minded Madison Capital Times. Eric Sevareid , had a distinguished career in journalism and as a radio and television reporter and commentator. Ludvig Hektoen made great progress in cancer research. The Hektoen Institute of Medical Research continues his work.

Ingeborg Rasmussen graduated from the Women's Medical College in Evanston in and became a prominent physician, feminist, and cultural leader among the Norwegians in Chicago. Knute Nelson served as a Republican U. Andrew Furuseth organized American commercial sailors. He was considered their liberator and was referred to as "the Abraham Lincoln of the Sea.

Hubert Humphrey served for two terms as U. Ambassador to Japan under the Clinton administration. Warren Christopher , whose great-grandparents emigrated from Norway in , was named secretary of state in Lawrence , a professor of physics at Yale University, received the Nobel Prize in physics in Ivar Giaever , Norwegian-trained engineer and physicist, received the Nobel Prize in physics in Lars Onsager , received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in Borlaug , an agricultural scientist, received the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the "Green Revolution," which helped to dispel the fear of famine in underdeveloped countries.

Norwegian immigrants brought skiing to America in the mids by introducing cross-country racing and ski jumping, and organizing local clubs, including the National Ski Association. They dominated the sport into the s. Beginning in , John A. Sonja Henie was an Olympic and World figure skating champion, movie star, and pioneer of ice shows. Torger Tokle , arrived in America in and was unrivaled by any U. Tokle won 42 of 48 competitions and, in so doing, set no fewer than 24 new hill records.

He was killed in military action in the mountains of northern Italy while serving in the 86th Mountain Regiment—"The Ski Troops. Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias , a daughter of Norwegian immigrants, was a champion in basketball, track, and golf. Tommy Moe won a gold medal for skiing in the Olympic Games.

Royal Norwegian Embassy, 34th Street, N. Promotes international understanding by means of educational and cultural exchange with Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. It has an extensive program of fellowships and grants, and publishes the Scandinavian Review. An international organization founded in Norway in to strengthen the ties between men and women of Norwegian heritage in and outside Norway. It functions as a cultural and social organization and has chapters throughout the United States. Founded in , is the main research center for Norwegian American history.

It possesses large documentary archives and extensive library holdings. The Association publishes one to two volumes annually; so far more than 80 volumes of high scholarly merit on the Norwegian American experience have been released under its imprint. Olaf College, St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, Minnesota An international order founded as a fraternal society in Minneapolis in with lodges throughout the United States as well as in Canada and in Norway.

It provides insurance benefits for its members and publishes a monthly magazine, The Viking. Provides guided tours through a Norwegian pioneer homestead settled in , featuring the Norway building patterned after a twelfth century stave church. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and present the Scandinavian heritage in the Pacific Northwest.

It has an extensive collection of objects from Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest.