Norwegian Connections

From Arctic Fjord to American Prairie


Author: Jacobson, Judy
Publication Date: 2002
Reprint Date: 2005
Pages: xiv 268 pp.
ISBN: 9780806351506


As she has done in a number of her other publications (e.g., Southold (Long Island) Connections, and Detroit River Connections), genealogist and librarian Judy Jacobson has universalized an individual family history by giving it broader significance as an example of settlement patterns. In this case, her focus is upon her husband’s Norwegian ancestors, the Jacobsons, and others who left the Arctic circle fishing communities like Arberg, Harstad, Moen, and Fredriksberg, commencing with the outbreak of the American Civil War, for homesteading and other opportunities in Minnesota, North Dakota, and other states of the Great Plains. Although many Norwegians emigrated for religious and political reasons, the author reminds us economic dislocation in Norway–owing to the uncertainties of the fishing and mercantile industries–reached such proportions that approximately 200,000 Norwegians emigrated in the 1880s. By the turn of the century, Norwegians represented the largest ethnic group among the 183,000 persons living in North Dakota.

After providing the reader with ample background on the history of Norwegian immigration, Mrs. Jacobson turns to her principal objective: to record the genealogies of families from the Arctic fjords. In this context, she sheds light upon the unusual naming practices that make identifying Norwegian ancestors difficult. For example, Norwegian children typically did not take their father’s surname, and surnames were in fact derived from the father’s given name. This phenomenon helps to explain why the book ends with a given-name index and a surname index (as well as with indexes of subjects and place names). This important lesson in Norwegian onomastics is followed by detailed genealogical and biographical accounts, drawn from primary and secondary sources, of the following families: Eide, Eidissen, Erichsen, Frostad, Gjertsen, Hemmingsen, Ingebrigtsen, Jacobson, Johansen, Pedersen, Rasmussen, Sagan, Seversen, and Simonsen. Rounding out this fascinating volume are illustrations of various Norwegian communities of origin, several genealogical appendices, and an extensive list of sources.

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