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About NAHA

About NAHA

With one of the oldest and largest ethnic manuscript collections in the United States, the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) is a leader in the field of ethnic migration studies. Its mission is to locate, collect, preserve and interpret the Norwegian-American experience with accuracy, integrity, and liveliness. The NAHA archival collection includes letters, ledgers, books, periodicals, photographs, diaries, and audio and video recordings. The materials bring life to thousands of individuals, organizations, and businesses comprising the Norwegian diaspora in North America since migration began in the early 19th century.

Since its founding in 1925, NAHA has been located on the campus of St. Olaf College. Although both institutions are independent entities, they maintain close cooperation on common causes. The NAHA archives are located in the special collections area of Rolvaag Memorial Library. Read more about NAHA on our historical timeline. NAHA maintains close ties to NAHA-Norge, known in Norway as Det norske-amerikanske historielaget i Norge. As an independent, non-profit organization, NAHA-Norge aims to promote scholarly interests in Norwegian-American studies in Norway, as well as to encourage Norwegian contributions to this field of study.


Our robust publishing program brings into focus the Norwegian-American experience and its relationship to other ethnic groups in the United States. At the heart of our publishing program is Norwegian-American Studies, our annual scholarly journal, now published in cooperation with University of Minnesota Press. Theodore C. Blegen, noted University of Minnesota historian, was appointed the Association’s first editor. Later editors — Kenneth O. Bjork (1960–1980), Odd S. Lovoll (1980–2000), and Todd W. Nichol (2001–2017) — have built upon the Blegen tradition, opening new areas of research and expanding our range of critically acclaimed publications. In July of 2018, NAHA welcomed Anna M. Peterson of Luther College as our newest editor.

    A back list of dozens of NAHA publications dating from our founding in 1926


The Norwegian-American Historical Association is home to an extensive manuscript collection that includes letters, diaries, journals and ledgers, newspaper clippings, obituaries, congregational records, family and local histories, and other resources related to Norwegians in America. The collection also includes photographs illustrating many aspects of Norwegian-American history. 

Ole E. Rølvaag, the Association’s first secretary and archivist, was an energetic collector. J. Jørgen Thompson, who served as secretary from 1931 to 1958, added a large quantity of material. Carlton C. Qualey served NAHA for a time as a field agent and collected material that might otherwise have been lost. A large portion of the collection, however, stems from donations made, or uncovered, by members of the association. Proper organization of the manuscripts began in 1960 when Beulah Folkedahl became the Association’s first curator. Most of the backlog of unprocessed papers was in organized form when she died in 1971. Charlotte Jacobson, a former librarian at St. Olaf College, became curator in 1974. Forrest Brown, formerly the head librarian at Rølvaag Memorial Library succeeded Jacobson in 1990, and retired in 2005. Most recently, Gary De Krey served as archivist, with Jeff Sauve as associate archivist, until their retirements. Our current archivist, Kristina Warner, joined the NAHA staff in 2018.

The Association originally amassed a large number of Norwegian-American books, periodicals, and newspapers, which are now housed in St. Olaf Special Collections. To view these items, please contact the library staff. Our collection of bygdebøker (regional history books) is now available as a non-circulating collection in the library. They can be viewed during normal library hours without an appointment.

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