The Promise Fulfilled: A Portrait of Norwegian-Americans Today

The Promise Fulfilled: A Portrait of Norwegian-Americans Today

The Promise Fulfilled: A Portrait of Norwegian-Americans Today

The Promise Fulfilled: A Portrait of Norwegian-Americans Today

Excerpt

The Promise Fulfilled is a story told by Norwegian Americans themselves through interviews and completed questionnaires, and also through the historical record as preserved in libraries and archives. It is an experiment in social history that marks a departure in the study of American ethnic groups. As a reviewer said, a major finding of the study is “the creation of an ethnicity through the interactions of ethnic institutions and American society and the impact on those who identify with that ethnicity.” It is a case study that presents a comprehensive portrait of an “old” immigrant group toward the end of the twentieth century.

Initial preparations to conduct such a study would have come to naught save for the enthusiastic encouragement and support of Johan Fr. Heyerdahl, secretary general of Nordmanns Forbundet in Oslo, Norway, who secured the first large grant-in-aid of the project. My good friend Lawrence O. Hauge, president of the Norwegian-American Historical Association, contributed generously and was helpful at every turn. Terje Mikael Hasle Joranger of Oslo, Norway, traveled with me throughout the United States for a period of twelve months as my capable and optimistic research associate; the fieldwork benefited greatly from his innate talent for social history and for relating to subjects of in-depth interviews. Our varied experiences in pursuit of the Norwegian American might even merit a book all their own. Terje deserves a special word of gratitude for his invaluable contributions to the project at the personal as well as professional level. Professor David C. Mauk of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and an authority on the Norwegians in the eastern United States, joined us for the two weeks devoted to research in New York. At St. Olaf College Michael H. Foote served as my reliable and knowledgeable administrative assistant, tending to correspondence and entering and analyzing information on the database he created.

I incurred a large debt of gratitude to many individuals and institutions in the course of the research. I owe most of all to my academic institution, St. Olaf College, for granting me a two-year special leave of absence, 1995–97, on generous terms. Without this institutional largesse the work could not have been done. President Melvin D. George and later his successor, President Mark U. Edwards, and the academic deans Jon Moline and Kathleen Fishbeck encouraged and supported the project.

It will not be possible within the confines of this preface to acknowledge adequately all . . .

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