Landmark study for Norwegian-American Genealogy completed

From left: Dan F. Huebner, board chairman at The Norwegian American Genealogical Center, Blaine Hedberg, executive director and editor of the series and Erik Anundsen, president of the Anundsen Publishing Co., Decorah, Iowa. Photo courtesy of NAGC.

MADISON, WISCONSIN – The Norwegian American Genealogical Center announces the completion of its publication, Norwegian Immigrants to the United States: A Biographical Directory, 1825-1850.

The conclusion of this important resource, a significant addition to the field of immigration history, was accomplished with the recent publication of its fifth and final volume, which contains information for all known Norwegian immigrants who arrived in the United States during the year 1850.  The earlier volumes in the series, published between 1983 and 2004, provide information for immigrants arriving from Norway between 1825 and 1849.  

This massive undertaking began as the vision of Professor Gerhard B. Naeseth (1913-1994), internationally renowned scholar in the field of Norwegian-American genealogy and immigration history.  As early as the 1940’s, Naeseth began collecting the primary resource information and documents relating to Norwegians in the United States.  During his lifetime, in an era before wide-spread computer use, Naeseth completed and published the first volume in the series, a directory of Norwegians who came to America between 1825 and 1843.  He chose as his beginning point 1825 and attempted to reconstruct the passenger list of those Norwegians who came to New York from Stavanger in 1825 aboard the sloop Restauration.  This vessel has become the symbol of Norwegian-American immigration, a “Norwegian Mayflower,” establishing the first organized emigration from Norway to the United States.  

After Naeseth’s death, this ambitious research and publication program was carried forward by Naeseth’s protégé, Blaine Hedberg, who is today the Executive Director of the Norwegian American Genealogical Center in Madison.  Inspiring a team of volunteers, Hedberg pressed on, publishing volume two (1844-1846) in 1997; volume three (1847-1848) in 2000; and volume four (1849) in 2004.  The recent appearance of the final volume has also been supplemented with the reprinting of the long out-of-print volume one, which has been expanded with a new and useful index.  Holding the first printed copy of volume five and honoring the memory of his mentor, Hedberg called it “…a day of both celebration and poignancy, filled with remembrance, reflection, and renewal.”  Hedberg remembered “promises made and kept to complete this work…”  and was “…struck, yet again, by the magnitude of such a task, which was now complete.” 

Photo courtesy of NAGC.

With the completion of Naeseth’s vision for the series, the Norwegian American Genealogical Center is turning its attention to further research and publication.  Discussions have begun, in both Norway and the United States, among students, volunteers, and genealogists, about continuing this study by creating a directory of Norwegian immigrants to the United States for the period 1851 to 1865.  The explosion of immigration during this period will mean that unparalleled scholarly resources must be coordinated and marshaled to bring together this exciting story.  With the help of computer resources and international communication that Professor Naeseth only dreamed of, the Norwegian American Genealogical Center is poised to continue building on this great contribution.  

Volumes one through five in the series are available from the Norwegian American Genealogical Center, 415 West Main Street, Madison, Wisconsin, 53703-3116, telephone 608-255-2224, or via their secure e-store on the website: www.nagcnl.org.  The headquarters of the Center, the Naeseth Library in Madison, is open for researchers at all levels.  Appointments for research help may be arranged by calling 608-255-2224.  The Center also maintains an active and growing international membership made up of those who support the mission and publications of this independent, non-profit organization. Members receive discounts on research assistance.  For more information, consult the NAGC website or telephone 608-255-2224.       

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