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Object: Book

Sep 27, 2018

Materials: paper, leather

This is a book of religious stories written in the Norwegian language. Norway is predominantly a Christian nation, with its established Church of Norway. This book was printed in 1893, and is titled Fra Betlehem till Golgata, which translates to “From Bethlehem to Golgotha”, the sites where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born and crucified. The cover of the book depicts Joseph leading the donkey that carried the Virgin Mary while she was pregnant, on their journey to Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born.

Stave Church in Norway Photo via vennekretsen.com

Stave Church in Norway
Photo via vennekretsen.com

Christianity went through several phases in Norway, originally starting as a Roman Catholic organization. Norwegian Christianity changed along with the rest of organized Christianity in mainland Europe. During the Reformation, Christian communities broke off from the Roman Catholic Church and became Protestant. Norway went through this phase as well, becoming Lutheran Christian. By the 1850s, church sites went through democratic reforms, as the formal structure was arranged in a democratic manner.

Similar to other European immigrants that came to Texas, Norwegian immigrants came to the state and settled as farmers as they were rural farmers back in Norway. They came looking for economic opportunities in Texas as there was still large amounts of farm land available. Johannes Nordboe was one of the first known Norwegian to settle in Texas. Norwegian immigration and settlement continued from the 1840s until 1872, with one of the most important Norwegians settlements in Bosque County.  But the first real Norwegian settlement was Brownsboro in Henderson County, established in 1845.

From the late 19th century through the early 20th century, Norwegian-Texans continued their traditional culture and way of life of their ancestors. However, the Norwegian language has since died out amongst most Norwegian-Texans, as their descendants integrated into Texas life and culture. However, this book is written in Norwegian, and was published in 1893. Demonstrating how Norwegian-Texan communities still followed their traditional culture, including speaking Norwegian language rather than English even after immigrating to the United States. [Caitlin VanWie, edited by Jennifer McPhail]

Additional Resources:

Anderson, Arlow William. 1974. The Norwegian-Americans. Boston, Twayne Publishers.

Furseth, Inger. 1994. “Civil Religion in a Low Key: The Case of Norway”. Acta Sociologica. 37 (1): 39-54.

Gjerde, J., and A. McCants. 1995. “Fertility, Marriage, and Culture: Demographic Processes Among Norwegian Immigrants to the Rural Middle West”. JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC HISTORY. 55 (4): 860-859.

Hamre, James S. 1981. “Norwegian Immigrants Respond to the Common School: A Case Study of American Values and the Lutheran Tradition”. Church History. 50 (3): 302-315.

Mikaelsson, Lisbeth. 2009. “Regional approaches to religion: Christianity in Norway”. Religion. 39 (2): 117-125.

Semmingsen, Ingrid. 1978. Norway to America: a history of the migration. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

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