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Norwegian-American Immigration and Local History:
Introduction

Compiled by Lee V. Douglas, Reference Specialist
Research Guide No. 6



Norwegian migration to North American began on July 4, 1825, with the sailing of the sloop Restauration from Stavanger bound for New York City. From that beginning to the present, Norwegians and Norwegian Americans have scrupulously documented the migration movement, the lives of the immigrants, and the development of their settlements. This documentation takes the form of parish registers, ships' manifests, publication in Norwegian newspapers of lists of emigrants, personal memoirs, letters from America, and book-length histories of the new settlements.

In addition, immigrants from various towns, valleys, and fjords maintained contact in their new country through regional societies that published newsletters, held periodic reunions, and disseminated information on members' places of residence, professions, marriages and new births. Norwegian Americans' pride in their considerable influence on American life has led to the publication of lists and entire dictionaries of biographical and genealogical information on thousands of individuals. Martin Ulvestad's work, published in 1907 and based on 450,000 questionnaires sent out to Norwegians in America, and Thoralv Klaveness' work detailing his epic journey through immigrant settlements for the sole purpose of writing down their histories are examples of Norwegian-Americans' interest in documentation.

If a researcher in Norwegian-American genealogy or history encounters problems, it will not be due to a paucity of materials but to the scattered nature of the abundant documentation already in existence. It is partially to obviate this difficulty that the present bibliography has been compiled. An understanding of the history of the migration movement will help in tracking down many materials; the two-volume work by Theodore Blegen is listed for readers who wish to pursue this goal. Understanding the geography and the political and ecclesiastical divisions of Norway is particularly important for the genealogist. All of the works listed in Part I provide help in accomplishing this.

Some Library of Congress subject headings for further research are:

Norwegian Americans
Norway-Genealogy
Farms-Norway
Family Farms-Norway
Norway-Emigration and Immigration

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  January 8, 2014
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