Norse-American Centennial

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A U.S. postage stamp featuring the ship Viking honoring the 100th anniversary of Norwegian immigration.

The Norse-American Centennial celebration was held at the Minnesota State Fair on June 6–9, 1925.[1]


The event served to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival during 1825 of the Norwegian immigrant ship Restauration; the arrival of this ship is generally considered the first organized emigration of Norwegian-Americans to the United States. Gisle C. J. Bothne, Department head and professor of Scandinavian languages and literature at the University of Minnesota, was President of the Norse-American Centennial celebration.[2]

Johan Andreas Holvik, professor at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota served as the Secretary of the national administration committee of the Norse-American Centennial. Knut Gjerset, professor at Luther College and curator of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, served as Director of the Norse-American Centennial celebration; the committee of advisors included author O. E. Rolvaag .[3][4]

During his appearance at the Norse-American Centennial, President Calvin Coolidge gave recognition to the contributions of Scandinavian-Americans and noted Leif Erikson as the Discoverer of America. Music was provided by musical groups from a number of Norwegian Lutheran colleges including St. Olaf College, Luther College, Augustana College and Augsburg Seminary. A pageant at the celebration centered on the life of war hero Colonel Hans Christian Heg. Colonel Heg, a Norwegian immigrant, served as brigade commander 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment during the American Civil War; the Norse-American Centennial Art exhibited works by a number of prominent Norwegian-American artist including Lars Jonson Haukaness, Karl Ouren, Svend Rasmussen Svendsen, Paul Fjelde and Benjamin Blessum.[5][6][7]

Other commemorative activities[edit]

A U.S. postage stamp featuring the sloop Restauration issued in honor of the 100th anniversary of Norwegian immigration.

The United States Post Office issued two commemorative stamps in conjunction with the Norse-American Centennial; the illustration on the two cent stamp was an artist's rendition of what the ship Restauration probably looked like based on a drawing of its sister ship. The design on the five cent stamp was from a photograph of the Viking, a ship that sailed from Norway to Chicago in time for the Columbian Exposition of 1893.[8]

Norse-American Centennial medals were also authorized by the United States Congress. Four different octagonal-shaped medals were produced by the U.S. Mint. Minnesota Congressman Ole J. Kvale, a member of the Congressional Coin, Weights, and Measures Committee, was instrumental in the production of the Norse-American medal series. Congress authorized the production of 40,000 silver medals and 100 gold medals, all to be produced at the Philadelphia Mint.[9]

The celebration helped provide the impetus for a memorial church which resulted in the building of The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church of Minneapolis better known as Mindekirken; this Norwegian language Lutheran church was dedicated on May 4, 1930.[10]


Other sources[edit]

  • Norlie, Olaf M. Why We Celebrate (Minneapolis, MN. Norse-American Centennial. 1925)
  • Arneson, Oscar Norse-American Centennial 1825–1925 (Minneapolis, MN. Norse-American Centennial. 1925)

External links[edit]