Norse-American Centennial

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U.S. postage stamp featuring the ship Viking honoring the 100th anniversary of Norwegian immigration, issued May 18, 1925.

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]

U.S. postage stamp featuring the sloop Restauration issued in honor of the 100th anniversary of Norwegian immigration, issued May 18, 1925.

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]


  1. ^ Ethnicity on parade: inventing the Norwegian American through celebration (April R. Schultz. University of Massachusetts Press. 1995)
  2. ^ Gisle Christian Johnson Bothne (Minnesota Historical Society)
  3. ^ The Norwegian-American Historical Museum (Knut Gjerset. Norwegian-American Historical Association. Volume VI: Page 153)
  4. ^ The 1925 Norse-American Immigration Centennial and Ethnic Identity (April Schultz. Norwegian-American Historical Association. Volume 33: Page 267)
  5. ^ The promise fulfilled: a portrait of Norwegian Americans today (Odd Sverre Lovoll, Norwegian-American Historical Association. 1998)
  6. ^ Immigrant minds, American identities: making the United States home, 1870–1930 (Orm Øverland. University of Illinois Press. 2000)
  7. ^ Fine Arts Collection (Luther College)
  8. ^ Postage Stamps of the United States First Issued in 1925 (
  9. ^ 1925 Norse American Medal in Gold (CoinLink Coin Collecting News)
  10. ^ "History of Mindekirken (The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church)". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2010-02-26.

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]