Since the centennial celebration of Norwegian migration to America in 1925, historians have frequently reflected upon the creation of the Norwegian American identity throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet, while investigations on culture and identity continue to expand our understanding of Norwegian America, youth are still frequently left on the margins of focus. The voices of children and adolescents are frequently difficult to hear as they leave few written historical records for historians to analyze. Additionally, few scholars have explored the sources they have left as adults remembering their childhood due to the skepticism of memory. As a result, youth do not get appropriate recognition as agents of culture within their communities. The search of their voices and experiences, however, can be fruitful with the proper tools and procedures. Thus, to bring to light Norwegian American youth experiences within the home, church, school, and community throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this project utilized a combination of primary and memory sources from Norman County, Minnesota. These sources included newspapers, census records, church and school records, personal and family histories, oral history interviews, and photographs. In employing these sample sources from Norman County together and in collaboration with one another, a more comprehensive understanding of their cultural experiences can be understood. This project finds that Norwegian American youth played an important and active role in maintaining, adopting, and modifying culture. In the various ways with which Norwegian American youth navigated culture, this project additionally maintains that Norwegian American children and adolescents must be recognized as agents of culture – individuals that yield the power to influence and shape cultural processes - within their homes, churches, schools, and wider community.
Lori Ann Lahlum
Date of Degree
Master of Arts (MA)
Social and Behavioral Sciences
DeValk, B. R. (2022). Navigating culture in the home, church, school, and community: Norwegian American youth in Norman County, Minnesota, 1870-1925 [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/1223/
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