United States Immigration: Norway


Figure 1.--These Norwegian immigrant brothers look to be about 5-13 years old. They were photographed in the 1910s, pribably during World War I. At this time immigration was largely cut off by World War I. The Allied naval North Sea blockade and German U-boats made Atlantic crossings difficicult. These boys look thoroughly Americanized, at least in dress, but wanted to idenbtify themselves as Norwegian. A factor here may have been that Norway only emrged as an independent country in 1905.

Norwegian began emigrating to America during the early-19th century. Norway has very limited agricultural land. A result, there was a substantial number of rural farm workers that wanted, but could not afford to purchase land. The first migrants were family groups and single men from rural Norway. The Norwegians tended to settle in areas where they could set up farms benefitting from the Northwest Ordinance. The Louisiana Purchase opened the Dakotas as well They played an important role in settling the Upper-Midwest during the mid-19th century. The numbers of Norwegians were relatively small until after the Civil War when European emigration began to increase. This is a little difficult to follow because until 1905, Norway was a part of Sweden. The Homestead Act (1862) also opened up land to immigrant settlers who promised to farm and live on the land for 5 years. As a result, landless Norwegians were able to buy rich farmland at very low prices. As immigrants began arriving in larger numbers in the 1870s, an uncreasuing number of young single men were arriving, often from cities. Emigration was heavy promotion by emigration agents, newspapers and writers, and earlier settlers. The expanding American railroads in particular promoted emigration. Norway is a small country. Thgus the numbers are relatively small compared to the larger countries like Germany and Italy. The Norwegians, however, came in large numbers in proportion to the population. And with the exception of Irish, no other Europeans came to America in larger numbers in relation to their population than the Norwegians.

Conditions in Norway

Norway has very limited agricultural land. This was what set in motion an earlier migratory movement a milenia earlier--the Vikings. As a result of the limited agricultural land, there was a substantial number of rural farm workers that wanted, but could not afford to purchase land. Other factors were involved, including religion. The first Norwegian immigrants were primarily Lutheran pietists and Quakers who had to contend with an established state church. They thus were attracted by America's guarantee of relgious freedom. Norway's economy in the early-19th century was adversely affected by industrial shifts which made it difficult for young men ebtering the wirk force to find jobs. The United States with its expanding industrial ecomony needed workers and offered wages well above Norwegian and other European wage rates.

Chronology

Norwegian began emigrating to America during the early-19th century. The first Norwegians to reach America are believed to have been 53 people aboard the Restauration (1825). It was, however, not until end of the Civil War that large numbers of Norwegians began emigrating (1865). A factor here that once the War ended, there was no longer any danger of being drafted. Quite a few Norwegians emigrated over the following 8 years. Some 110,000 Norwegians entered the United States duriubg this period, a substantial number from a small country like Norway. we are not sure why emifgratiinb temporarily declined in the mid-1870s. A second and even larger wave of emigration began around 1880 which lasted util 1893. The first wab=ve was largely whole families. With the second wave, for unknow reasons, this [attern changed. We see younger, better educated individuals coming to America without their families.

Numbers

Norway is a small country. Thus the numbers are relatively small compared to the larger countries like Germany and Italy or even small countries like Ireland. The numbers of Norwegians were relatively small until after the Civil War when European emigration began to increase. This is a little difficult to follow because until 1905, Norway was a part of Sweden. The Homestead Act (1862) also opened up land to immigrant settlers who promised to farm and live on the land for 5 years. As a result, landless Norwegians were able to buy rich farmland at very low prices. As immigrants began arriving in larger numbers in the 1870s, an uncreasuing number of young single men were arriving, often from cities. Emigration was heavy promotion by emigration agents, newspapers and writers, and earlier settlers. The expanding American railroads in particular promoted emigration. While the Norwegians came in relatively small numbers, the numbers were huge in proportion to the country's population. With the exception of Irish, no other nationality came to America in larger numbers in relation to their population than the Norwegians.

Settlement Pattern

The first migrants were family groups and single men from rural Norway. The Norwegians tended to settle in areas where they could set up farms benefitting from the Northwest Ordinance. The Louisiana Purchase opened the Dakotas as well. Norwegians and other Scandinavians played an important role in settling the Upper-Midwest during the mid- and late 19th century. This process began during the mid-19th century in New York. The first immigrants, the Lutheran pietists and Quakers, aided by American Quakers settled in western New York. Here the opening of the Erie Canal helped ease the migration west. The Norwegians began to move westward, founding Norwegian communities along the way This brought Norwegians to Illinois and finlly Wisconsin and Minnesota. Here the great bulk of Norwegian immigrants settled--Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and the Dakotas. Norwegian immigrants were not limited to these areas. Smaller numbers eventually settled in Seattle, Brooklyn, New York, Alaska and Texas.

Immigrant Families

We have a few pages on Norwegian immigrant families. One was the the Rongley family from the Dakotas. Another was the Setter family in Minnesota..







HBC







Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main U.S. Country Immigration page]
[Return to the Main U.S. immigration page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Essays]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[ Boys' Clothing Home]



Created: 10:55 AM 10/6/2014
Last updated: 10:55 AM 10/6/2014