America-America Letters: A Norwegian-American Family Correspondence - 2001

America-America Letters: A Norwegian-American Family Correspondence - 0877320926

America-America Letters: A Norwegian-American Family Correspondence, © 2001 The Norwgian-American Historical Association, Northfield, Minnesota, Hardcover, 161 Pages, 0-87732-092-6.  Compiled and Edited by Bjørn Gunnar Østgård with an introduction by  Brynhild C. Rowberg.  Translated by Donald L. Berg.  Indexed.


Book examines the personal letters that traveled between the Norwegian immigrants settled throughout America in the 1800's. The letters give the reader a glimpse of what life was like for the immigrants during that time period.

From the Cover Flaps

“America letters," the seemingly ubiquitous correspondence that flowed from the immigrants back to former neighbors, acquaintances, and kin in the old country, influenced greatly the extent and nature of the nineteenth- century migration from Europe to the United States.

The aggregate effect of these personal and frequently simple documents was to create an image of the New World as being superior to the Old.

Here freedom, opportunity, and equality reigned, giving humanity a better way of life and a greater hope for the future. A smaller stream of letters carried news from the homeland to those who had left.

In 1989. in publishing a collection of these communications, the Association coined the term “Norway letters" to describe correspondence sent from Norway to immigrated compatriots. It is now a widely adopted appellation for this category of correspondence.

Personal letters, whether they commenced in America or in Norway, in whichever direction they went, document individual experiences and are intimate social historical records that broaden our understanding of the human drama of the overseas movement

In America-America Letters: A Norwegian- American Family Correspondence, compiled by Bjorn Gunnar Oslgàrd. the Association suggests yet another descriptive title for correspondence that has attracted relatively little scholarly interest.

The term “America-America letters" is in all modesty introduced to call attention to the multitude of private letters the immigrants sent to each other and to communications by readers printed in Norwegian- American newspapers.

Much of this latter correspondence was from residents in pioneer settlements and in small towns, and like the America letters, their letters to the newspaper might encourage fellow Norwegians to join them in building the new community. Its progress until that time is traced in some detail.

The letter writers not only address progress, but they also express a great number of concerns and thereby indicate the many difficulties the immigrants confronted as they adjusted to American society.

The vast majority' of personal letters naturally did not see print but were intended exclusively for the eyes of the recipient, and thus communicate a greater degree of confidentiality and candor than those intended for a particular newspaper’s readership.

It is the latter type of correspondence, the private America-America letters, that 0stgard has compiled for this volume. It contains the family correspondence of the Aaker family— selected mainly from the Association's holdings and annotated by 0stgard—descendants of Knud Saavesen Aaker and his wife, Mari Larsdatter Hægtvedt, who emigrated from Upper Telemark in 1845.

The correspondence begins in 1847 and ends in 1894. It thus covers a dramatic period of American history' and relates through an exchange of letters the varied, deeply personal, and changing experiences of individual members of this immigrant family, some of whom have achieved great prominence within American society.

Brynhild C. Rowberg, a member of the Aaker family, and now retired after an eminent diplomatic career, contributes a clarifying and insightful introduction to the letters.

About the Author

Bjorn Gunnar Ostgârd was bom in Valdres, Norway, where he has spent most of his life. He has been active as a local family and community historian and worked as archivist, leader of the educational center, and currently a member of the board of Valdres Folk Museum.

He is one of four local historians who are writing the farm and family histories of the municipality of North Aurdal in Valdres, scheduled to be published in six volumes in 2002.

0stgard is a frequent visitor to the United States and has a special interest in immigrants and their descendants from the district of Valdres.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction by Brynhild C. Rowberg
  • Chapter 1: Knud S. Aaker: Letters from a Father
  • Chapter 2: The Grovens: Anne, Andreas, and Mari
  • Chapter 3: Lars K. Aaker: Politician and Family Man
  • Index

Library of Congress Catalog Listing

LC control no.: 2002512964
Type of material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Main title: America-America letters : a Norwegian-American family correspondence / compiled and edited by Bjørn Gunnar Østgård; with an introduction by Brynhild C. Rowberg.
Published/Created: Northfield, Minn. : Norwegian-American Historical Association, 2001.
Related names: Østgård, Bjørn Gunnar.
Norwegian-American Historical Association.
Description: xxxii, 161 p. : ill.; 24 cm.
ISBN-10: 0877320926
ISBN-13 978-0877320920
Notes: Includes index.
Subjects: Aaker family --Correspondence.
Norwegian Americans --Middle West --Correspondence.
Immigrants --Middle West --Correspondence.
Middle West --Social life and customs --19th century.
Middle West --Biography.
Goodhue County (Minn.) --Biography.
Dane County (Wis.) --Biography.
Winneshiek County (Iowa) --Biography.
LC classification: F358.2.S2 A44 2001
Dewey class no.: 973/.04398200922
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