The Norwegian-American Historical Association was founded in 1925 as a national center for the collection and preservation of historical material. Located on the campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, the Association has published more than 100 books of scholarly merit and its archive is home to more than 2,200 collections.
Voices calling for the creation of a center for Norwegian-American history go back to 1875. Fifty years later the Norse-American Centennial provided the needed stimulus for action. On October 6, 1925, individuals of vision and talent founded NAHA.
To understand ourselves we must understand our past. We need to develop an awareness of the many strands that make up the fabric of our country's history and the society in which we live. Important among these are the stories and records of the immigrants who settled our land. Each ethnic group brought its own character to an ever-expanding diversity. The result is a cultural richness unique in the world.
The goal of the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) is to locate, collect, preserve and interpret the Norwegian-American part of this whole with accuracy, integrity, and liveliness. In doing so, Norwegian Americans will have an identifiable position in America's past, present, and future.
Theodore C. Blegen, noted University of Minnesota historian, was appointed the Association's first editor. He brought to his assignment the high intellectual and editorial standards that have characterized the NAHA publications which, to date, total more than 100 volumes. Later editors — Kenneth O. Bjork (1960-1980), Odd S. Lovoll (1980-2000), and Todd W. Nichol (2001-2017) — have built upon the Blegen tradition as they have opened up new areas of research and expanded the range of critically acclaimed publications. In July of 2018, the Association welcomed Anna M. Peterson of Luther College as its editor.
Ole E. Rolvaag, the author of Giants in the Earth, became the Association's first secretary and archivist. He initiated the collection of archives including letters, papers, books, periodicals, photographs, diaries, and newspapers related to Norwegian-American life. Through later growth and careful organization the archives have become a treasure trove for scholars of immigration history.
St. Olaf and NAHA
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