Sons of Norway
Sønner av Norge (English: Sons of Norway) is a fraternal organization representing people of Norwegian heritage in the United States and Canada. It describes its mission as "to promote and to preserve the heritage and culture of Norway, to celebrate our relationship with other Nordic Countries, and provide quality insurance and financial products" to its members. The organization was founded by 18 members on January 16, 1895, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to insure each other when they were unable to secure life insurance on their own. Currently, the Sons of Norway has over 400 lodges in the United States, Canada, and Norway. With over 66,000 members, the Sons of Norway is the largest Norwegian organization outside of Norway.
The Sons of Norway was founded in January 1893, and incorporated on June 22, 1898 as the Independent Order of the Sons of Norway. Twelve lodges were founded across the Midwest by 1900. In 1903 a group in Seattle asked the Midwestern group for a charter, however they did not wish to have compulsory insurance for the members, which was anathema to the parent order. The Seattle group organized as Leif Erikson Lodge No. 1 anyway and with other West Coast groups set up the Grand Lodge of the Sons of Norway of the Pacific Coast. The two orders quarreled until they held a convention in Superior, Wisconsin in June, 1909, merging the next year. (Other sources say they merged in 1912.)
The organization slowly expanded across the United States and now includes lodges in Canada and Norway. Today, Sons of Norway continues to make an effort to build on the traditions of the past while at the same time focusing on modern Norwegian-American lives. There must be programs to appeal to the 4th and 5th generation descendants who show interest in their roots.
Daughters of Norway
Women were admitted to local groups as early as 1916, in areas where the Sons' female auxiliary, the Daughters of Norway, was unorganized. The Daughters were united into the male organization in 1950 and a system of junior lodges was created in 1956.
To qualify for membership originally, one had to be male, either Norwegian or of Norwegian descent, give proof of being morally upright, in good health, capable of supporting a family, at least 20 years old and no more than 50. Now, membership is open to everyone with an interest in Norwegian culture.
The original rituals and ceremonies of the organization stirred some controversy with conservative churchmen, who objected to the use of pagan Norse gods. Therefore the rituals have been modified over the years, the death service being retired as early of 1909.
Sons of Norway international conventions
- 2014 – 63rd Sons of Norway International Convention, Jacksonville, Florida, August 17 – 24
- 2012 – 62nd Sons of Norway International Convention, Fargo, North Dakota, August 20 – 25
- 2010 – 61st Sons of Norway International Convention, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, August 29 – September 1
- 2008 – 60th Sons of Norway International Convention, San Diego, California, August
- 2006 – 59th Sons of Norway International Convention. Vancouver, British Columbia, August
- 2004 – 58th Sons of Norway International Convention, Washington D.C., August
- 2002 – 57th Sons of Norway International Convention, Madison, Wisconsin, August 14 - 17
- 2000 – 56th Sons of Norway International Convention, Stavanger, Norway, August 10
- 1998 – 55th Sons of Norway International Convention, Anaheim, California, August 10
- 1996 – 54th Sons of Norway International Convention
- 1994 – 53rd Sons of Norway International Convention, August
- 1992 – 52nd Sons of Norway International Convention
- 1990 – 51st Sons of Norway International Convention, August 10
The benefits offered by the Sons of Norway have fluctuated over the years. they originally offered life, sickness and accident insurance but in 1934 restricted coverage to life insurance only. Gradually other benefits were restored.
As of December 31, 2010:
- Total members 64,186
- Members in the United States 60,526
- Members in Canada 2,260
- Members in Norway 1,400
- Lodges 412
- Life insurance in force $639,252,000
- Number insurance certificates in force 17,589
Some of the Sons of Norway's buildings are historic and/or are otherwise notable, including:
- Sons of Norway Building, 1455 W Lake St, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Sons of Norway Hall, Petersburg, Alaska, built 1912, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)
- Sons of Norway building of Minot, North Dakota, built 1915, a contributing building in the NRHP-listed Minot Commercial Historic District:7:21
The Sons of Norway also maintains a large library and retirement home.
- History of Sons of Norway, an American fraternal organization of men and women of Norwegian birth or extraction by Carl G. O. Hansen, (Minneapolis: Sons of Norway Supreme Lodge, 1944).
- Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press p.322
- A Brief History of Sons of Norway by Hildegarde M. Strom
- Schmidt p.322
- Axelrod p.231
- A brief history of Sons of Norway
- Mark T. Fiege, Mary E. McCormick, and Fredric L. Quivik (July, 1986). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Minot Commercial Historic District". National Parks Service. and accompanying photos
- Minot MRA
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