Seeking economic improvement or a fresh start, following family or news of a land of opportunity, Norwegians left their homeland for America in great numbers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They settled in Pennsylvania and Illinois and moved on to Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, finding in the preire or prrie a promising and hospitable landscape?and they wrote home about it.
From these letters?some published in newspapers or newsletters, most found on family farms and in homes held for generation after generation?comes a polyphonic history of Norwegian immigration. Sent from towns and cities and rural outposts, from Chicago and Minneapolis (the Norwegian-American ?capital?), from Four Mile Prairie, Texas, and Coon Prairie, Wisconsin, from Hot Creek, Nevada, and Rock Creek, Iowa, and from Christiana, Wisconsin, to Christiania (now Oslo), Norway, these letters were concerned with matters from the price of postage to the question of picking up stakes and moving halfway around the world and afford an intimate view of the vast and varied experience of Norwegian immigrants settling in this country.
In this volume, edited and translated by Orm +verland and covering the period from 1838 to 1870, Norwegian immigrants relate the successes, challenges, and sorrows of their new life to the communities they left behind.