Sogn og Fjordane
Møre og Romsdal
Western Norway Emigration Center



Western Norway Emigration Center
Forfatter: Vestnorsk Utvandringssenter
Publiseringsdato: 11.06.2003

Foto: Scandion.

More than 800,000 Norwegians have emigrated to the United States. The first organized group of emigrants left Stavanger on the sloop the Restauration on July 4, 1825. 

In 1837 the Ægir left Bergen as the first ship with emigrants from Hordaland. For a century emigration was a central aspect of Norwegian history. The Emigration Center of Western Norway is a memorial to those who left and to their descendants. 

The Emigration Center Today 
The emigrant archives now include 96,000 names of emigrants from the two counties of Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane up to 1924. 

This has been possible thanks to the work of many years by Jahn Sjursen, who has also collected books and other publications, pictures and objects related to Norwegian emigrants in the United States. 
He officially donated his collections to the Emigration Center at the opening in 1997. 

The Center continues to receive publications and objects for its collection. Via the internet we are linked to the national digital records of emigrants from Norway to the United States that have been developed by the University of Bergen and the Bergen Public Archives. 

The Center´s Emigrant Church was originally the Brampton Lutheran Church in Sargent County, North Dakota, built by Norwegian emigrants at the turn of the nineteenth century. The Brampton congregation was formed 1 July, 1908. and 22 June 1996, the congregation donated their fully furnished church to the Emigration Center. It was taken down, transported to Sletta and reconstructed there by volunteers from Radøy. The church was reconsecrated by the Bishop of Bjørgvin, Ole Danholt Hagesæther, 6 July, 1997. 

Foto: Scandion.

The main monument : "Emigration from Norway to the United States and Canada". 
The monuments 
outside the church are memorials to the relations created by Norwegian emigration, with Canada, the United States. and the islands of the North Atlantic. Four were unveiled in connection with the official opening of the Emigration Center 6 July, 1997 : 

The main monument to the relations between Norway and North America (with an addition unveiled 8 July, 2000). 

Foto: Scandion.

The monument to the 99th U.S. Infantry Battalion, the Second World War unit with Norwegian as language of command. 

The monument to the sailors in the Norwegian merchant marine during the Second World War and to other WW2 veterans who have settled abroad. 

The monument to the prairie minister and his congregations. 

A fifth monument was unveiled 6 July, 2000, at the annual Summer Festival. 

The monument to the medieval Norse emigrations and settlements and our continuing relations with the North Atlantic Islands : the Shetlands, the Hebrides, Man, the Orkneys, the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland. 

All the monuments have been made by Reidar Rosnes, Radøy. 

Foto: Scandion.

Houses from the Midwest 
Three buildings from Norwegian-American settlements were all officially opened at the annual Summer Festival of 2000: 

The one-room school house, the Marboe Township School from Sargent County, North Dakota. This typical school building is from 1893 and was in the 1960s moved to Forman, in the same county, as a museum. In 1997 it was donated to the Emigration Center by the Sargent County Farm Bureau. 

The Underwood Pioneer Home was built in 1869 by Andreas Seem in Underwood, Otter Tail County, Minnesota. For years the house was i landmark for immigrants seeking land in the West. Mrs. Luverne Kiene, the great-grandchild of Karen and Andreas Seem, donated the house to the Emigration Center in 1997. 

The Brampton School Teacher’s Home was, according to tradition, the oldest building in Brampton. Sargent County, North Dakota. We do not know the year it was built but the fireplace dates it to the earliest period of settlement in the area. The house was a teacher’s home into the 1930s. Sanford and GenevieveCooper donated the house to the Emigration Center in 1997. 

Dr. J.C. Serkland’s Medical Clinic is from Rothsay. Wilkin County, Minnesota. It was used by the pioneer physician, J. C. Serkland, for more than 50 years. Several of his grandchildren bought the house in 2000 and donated it to the Emigration Center. It was officially opened on July 7, 2001. 

The Elizabeth Jail and Town Hall were built as one structure in the 1880s. The Jail has two cells and was in use until i few years after 1900. The first ledger listing the inmates ot the prison is also at the Emigration Center. The Town Council of Elizabeth, Otter Tail County, Minnesota, donated the building to the Emigration Center in the spring of 2000. It was officially opened on July 6, 2002. 

The Future 
The Emigration Center of Western Norway has planned the following activities in the years to come: 

• To be an education center for school classes and other groups. 
• To erect a building for education, exhibits and a library. 
• To teach youth the value of tolerance and the appreciation of difference. 
• To be a research center for Norwegian emigration and Norwegian-American history. 
• To be a center where people come for information as well as for a unique experience. 
• To function as a meeting place between Norwegians and the descendants of emigrants from Norway. 

Finding the Emigration Center of Western Norway 
Sletta, the home of the Emigration Center is on Radøy, an island to the north of Bergen, about a fifty minute’s drive from the city by way of the Nordhordland Bridge. 




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