Notable Norwegians: Einar Ingvald Haugen

Photo: Einar Ingvald Haugen.

Einar Ingvald Haugen.

David Moe

Einar Ingvald Haugen was born in 1906 in Sioux City, Iowa, to Norwegian immigrant parents. He returned to the Oppdal region of Norway as a child and stayed for several years before returning to the United States. He served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin from 1931 to1962.

Haugen came to Harvard University in 1964 as a Professor of Scandinavian and Linguistics. For him, language was the foundation of the Norwegian culture and he is best known for his textbooks and dictionaries for students of the Norwegian language. However, he was also interested in Norwegian-American writers such as Ole Rolvaag and Waldemar Ager and Norwegian writers like Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. He also enjoyed Old Norse studies, Scandinavian mythology, and the Vinland sagas.

Einar was a member of the scientific academies of Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden; received many honorary degrees and awards; and served as President of the Linguistic Society of America, the American Dialect Society, and the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study.

Along with his wife, Eva, they entertained frequently in their Belmont home. Einar would wear his Norwegian sweater and dance with the ladies in the basement to Scandinavian music. They held a study group in their home on Sunday evenings that became legendary in the Boston community. They always welcomed young people and new ideas into their study group and activities.

In 1993, Einar co-authored the book “Ole Bull: Norway’s Romantic Musician and Cosmopolitan Patriot”, along with his daughter, Camilla Cai. Einar died the following year and his wife, Eva Lund Haugen, died a few months later.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 26, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.