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A Folk Epic: The Bygdelag in America - 0805753656

A Folk Epic: The Bygdelag in America - 0805753656 - Front Cover

Odd Sverre Lovoll, A Folk Epic: The Bygdelag in America, © 1975 Norwegian-American Historical Association, Twayne Publishers, A Division of G. K. Hall & Co., Boston, Hardcover, 326 Pages, 0-8057-5365-6, 917.3'06'3982, Published 15 September 1975, Based on the author's thesis, University of Minnesota.


  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • I The Bygd In The New World
  • II Launching A Movement
  • III The Regional Impulse
  • IV Growth of an Idea
  • V An Immigrant Comment
  • VI A Time Of Testing
  • VII The Last Rally
  • VIII The Passing Of An Era
  • IX After World War II
  • X Bygdelag Contributions
  • Appendix
  • Notes and References
  • A Selected Bibliography
  • Index

List of Illustrations

  • The Old-World Homes of the Bygdelag Folk
  • A. A. Veblen
  • D. G. Ristad
  • Centers of Bygdelag Activity
  • First Page of the Minutes Book for Sognalaget
  • Bjørgulv Bjørnaraa
  • Setesdalslaget Stevne in Mac Intosh, Minnesota, 1912
  • Bygdelag Periodicals
  • Special Bygdelag Section of Decorah-Posten
  • Hallingstevne at Brooten, Minnesota, 1911
  • Bygdelag Representatives Meeting In Minneapolis, November 8, 1911
  • Norwegian-American Pavilion, Centennial Exhibition, 1941
  • Faces At the Minnesota Fair Grounds, 1914
  • "What Minneapolis Tribune's Cartoonist saw. . ."
    Hardangerlaget in Willmar, Minnesota, 1915
  • Pacific Coast Focal Points
  • Chorus of Singers Form Norwegian Flag, Norse-American Centennial
  • Celebration, 1925
  • Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, 1925
  • "A Hallinglag in Spring Grove, Minnesota"
  • O. I. Hertsgaard
  • Harding Fiddler and Group in National Costumes


It is highly appropriate that A Folk Epic should be the first, if not the only, major Association publication in 1975, the 150th anniversary of the beginnings of organized emigration from Norway. Migration, from the sailing of the sloop Restauration in 1825 and continuing through the century that followed, was a movement essentially of common folk in search of greater freedom and a richer life in the New World.

In the main their dreams were realized, but the immigrants, many of them uprooted for the first time from the soil that had nourished them and their forebears, also knew the pangs of nostalgia that grow out of attachment to old homes and strong feelings for distant kin.

The bygdelag, the subject of this volume, were essentially social organizations of people from the same homeland district—usually rural. They date their origin from 1899, when immigrants from Valdres met in Minneapolis. More significantly, about fifty other lag with nationwide appeal were formed thereafter. Many with members drawn from a limited geographical area also proudly made their appearance.

Their annual stevner (meetings), the high point of their activity, were colorful demonstrations of local old-country speech, food, customs, and characteristics—a welcome relief to the transplanted Americans from the monotony and strain of their everyday life. A movement affecting a significant number of Norwegian immigrants naturally challenged the Norwegian-American Historical Association and invited the interest of the serious scholar.

Early in 1938 the Bygdelagenes Fællesraad (National Council) of the lag began an effort to research and record the history of its member societies, and in 1952 it appointed a committee to negotiate with the Association.

It was not until after 1966, however, that a new committee headed by O. I. Hertsgaard was able to secure either the money or the source materials essential for the start of the project. In 1969, I invited Odd S. Lovoll, who was then beginning his work toward a doctoral degree, to undertake the task of writing the history of the bygdelag in America.

The product of his study, generously supported by the Fællesraad, is presented here as the work of a mature scholar who sees in the movement he researched the most popular expression of "Norwegian Americanism." Dr. Lovoll, assistant professor of Norwegian at St. Olaf College, is a member of the Association’s Board of Publications.

Acknowledgments of assistance to the author are found elsewhere. Mention, however, should be made of the help given by the following persons in the preparation of the volume: Eric J. Nilsen, then a student at St. Olaf, who drew the maps; Elaine Kringen, assistant to the Association’s Secretary, who typed the final manuscript; Ralph L. Henry, retired professor of English at Carleton College, who gave me invaluable assistance in the editing process; and Charlotte M. Jacobson, Archivist of the Association, who prepared the index.

St. Olaf College

Library of Congress Catalog Listing

LC control no.: 74018430
Type of material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Personal name: Lovoll, Odd Sverre.
Main title: A folk epic: the bygdelag in America.
Published/Created: Boston, Twayne Publishers, 1975
Description: 326 p. illus., 24 cm.
LC classification: E184.S2 L68
ISBN-10: 0805753656
ISBN-13: 978-0805753653


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