Proud Norwegians

Pride Many Norwegians were proud to be Norwegian-Americans. This pride reached a peak between 1895 and 1925. During these years, large Norwegian-speaking groups in the cities and in the countryside organized themselves into a number of associations and teams. In rural areas, community activities became widespread after it was founded in 1899. In the cities, a number of entertainment associations, choirs, sports clubs, folk dance groups, religious associations, as well as political groups and trade unions appeared. Many of these were concerned with preserving and protecting the Norwegian language and traditions, such as Sons of Norway, which was founded in 1895.

Norwegian pride reached its peak in 1925, when thousands of Norwegian-Americans gathered in Minneapolis and St. Paul to celebrate and commemorate the centenary of Norwegian emigration. Today, the May 17 celebration is the most important and most visible expression of Norwegian-American culture.

Returned Emigrants But not everyone was equally proud. From 1900 to 1930, about 4 million Europeans left America and returned, about a quarter of the total immigration to the United States.

For Norwegians, Swedes and Danes combined, approx. 15, 4 percent back. But there were big variations. Among the Finns, the percentage was around 22; Germans 13, 7; irere kun 8.9. Among immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, the proportion was much higher: Poles 30 percent, southern Italians almost 46 percent. 1920 – The census shows that almost 50,000 Norwegians had lived in the United States before. Three-quarters of them had lived in the United States between two and nine years. Most of them returned to the home village they had left. Almost 155,000 Norwegians returned home between 1891 and 1940.

There were many reasons why they returned: most Norwegians had achieved what they wanted in the United States, and used savings to modernize agriculture or put them into local business. Others returned with impaired health. Hard work and long days had marked many for life. Many Italians contracted tuberculosis. Others were involved in accidents at work and came home because they had lost a finger, a foot or an arm. Some had also lost their sight. Still others came home because they had had enough of the United States, especially those who had been subjected to suspicion in the years after World War I, when many Americans condemned everyone who was not 100 percent American.