With thematic maps exaggerating the Norwegian presence in the United States

Martin Ulvestad, Norge I Amerika med Kart. Minneapolis: Norge I Amerika Pub. Co., 1901.
624pp plus large foldout with two maps printed recto-verso on one sheet, each in red and black and ca. 18”h x 26 ¾”w at neat line with wide margins. Bound in blue cloth with printed front board and spine. Newspaper clipping and small promotional broadsheet laid in. Ownership inscription to front free endpaper. Title page beginning to separate but text block otherwise clean, rear endpaper with minor loss where map removed, binding a just bit rubbed and bumped but tight. Foldout maps with minor wear at fold intersections and adhesions where previously tipped in to volume.

A scarce Norwegian-language directory and gazetteer documenting the Norwegian presence in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, with an interesting pair of thematic maps.

From 1836 through 1900 an average of just over 8000 Norwegians emigrated to the United States each year, and by the turn of the 20th century the country had 3.5 million people of Norwegian extraction, or 4.5% of the population. Norge I Amerika consists primarily of an alphabetical town-by-town directory, naming the male inhabitants of Norwegian descent, often along with their profession. Other sections list Norwegian churches, newspapers, &c. Both the sheer amount of data and its granularity are amazing, and they must have taken years to compile.

The volume is illustrated by two Norwegian-language maps, printed back-to-back, together documenting and arguably exaggerating this Norwegian presence. The recto features an outline map of the country, with solid red areas in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest indicating concentrations of Norwegian-Americans—what the map maker refers to as “Norge i Amerika” (“Norway in America”). Solid red circles indicate Norwegian populations large enough to support their churches, and open circles denote areas with lesser concentrations. The verso bears a county map of the Midwest states, with solid red circles once again indicating the locations of Norwegian churches. The overall effect on the United States map is striking, suggesting that much of the Midwest was almost exclusively Norwegian and ignoring for example the region’s huge German population.

Martin Ulvestad (1865-1942) was born in Norway and emigrated to the United States in 1886. He worked first as a printer and typesetter, then turned to publishing, issuing an English-Danish-Norwegian dictionary in 1895. He then published a series of works such as Norge I Amerika, all in one way or another documenting the demographics, culture and history of Norwegians in this country. His contributions were widely recognized, and in 1932 King Haakon VII of Norway knighted him with the Order of St. Olav.

Petersen, Bibliotheca Norvegica, Bind II, #1879. OCLC records numerous institutional holdings, but the work is scarce in the trade.