Norwegian & American Women of Distinction: Brynhild Haugland

Brynhild Haugland (1905-1998)

Jill Beatty
Daughters of Norway

Photo: State Historical Society of North Dakota (2011-P-016-0027)
Brynhild Haugland in 1973.

While the women of Minot make plans for a new Daughters of Norway Lodge, here is a little history from the National Women’s History Museum in celebration of the National Foundation of Women Legislators 70th Anniversary. They presented an online display entitled “Women Wielding Power: First Female State Legislators.”

North Dakota has three meritorious claims to fame: in 1892, it was the first state to elect a woman to statewide office; in 1933, it was the first to have a woman as Speaker of the House; and one of its female legislators holds the record for re-election. This article is featuring one of these three ladies.

Brynhild Haugland was born on July 28, 1905, in Minot, North Dakota. Haugland was the daughter of Norwegian immigrants and began attending public school in Minot in 1913, finishing in 1924, after which she taught in Minot until 1925. In 1928, she got her teaching certificate at Minot State Normal School. For her work in education she won an award in the Public Service category of the Council of Advancement and Support of Education.

As the longest-serving state legislator in the U.S., Brynhild Haugland served 26 terms (52 years) as a Republican Representative in the North Dakota Legislature, beginning in 1938 and ending in 1990. During her time in office, Haugland focused on “education, economic, and industrial development,” the “agricultural and dairy industry, transportation, environmental concerns, clean air, State Prison Farm, handicapped accessibility, state parks, and tourism,” among other things. Through her legislative work, Haugland also assisted her home city of Minot when she aided Minot State University in acquiring 10 new buildings.

Haugland also worked to improve the “farmer’s problems and living conditions,” and created legislation in the 1940s on a “medical care program that other states have modeled.” For her commitment to aiding farmers, she was recognized by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she said “Go down the list of laws passed by the North Dakota legislature in the last 15 years to help meet the farmer’s problems and improve his living conditions, and you will find that Brynhild Haugland had a hand in every one of them.” On March 20, 1995, North Dakota recognized Brynhild Haugland’s time of public service by awarding her the state’s highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award.

Haugland retired in 1990 after being named Minot’s woman of the year in 1956, 1971, and 1989. She cast a remarkable 22,000 votes during her time in office. Haugland is most remembered by her quote, “Most any good thing can be accomplished eventually if you are not particular who gets the credit.”

The Minot Daughters of Norway Lodge organizational meetings are planned for the next several months. The ladies meet in the South Room at the Minot Library at 1:30 p.m. Please see the Daughters of Norway website for more information: www.daughtersofnorway.org. Or email norskjill@gmail.com for details.

This article originally appeared in the May 19, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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