Where We Came From: Norwegian Immigration to America

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Friday, June 15, 2012
7:00 potluck dinner / 8:00 program / 9:00 business meeting
At the Norway House, 3846 Meredith Dr., Fairfax, VA

There are more than 4.5 million Norwegian Americans according to the U.S. census, and we're the 10th largest ancestry group in the United States.

But most of us aren't immigrants; we're the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc., of Norwegians who arrived in the United States before we were born, and we only have second-hand knowledge of what it was like to immigrate to the United States or to live here as a immigrant.

This presentation will primarily focus on Norwegian immigrants who arrived during the busiest period of 1825-1925. We'll talk about:

  • Why did Norwegians emigrate to the United States? Who chose to make the journey, and who stayed behind?
  • How did our Norwegian ancestors get to the shores of North America? Where did they land, and what were their first days in this nation like?
  • Where in the United States did Norwegian immigrants settle?
  • What was their new life like? What kind of jobs did they have? What was their home life like, their schooling, their churches, their communities?

About the Speaker

Clarissa Peterson is the great-granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants from Nordland, Troms, Oppland, and Hedmark. She grew up in Wisconsin and learned about Norwegian culture from her grandmother, Oljanna Cunneen, who was a rosemaler, Ole & Lena joke-teller, troll-maker, bunad seamstress, and a tour guide at Little Norway.

Clarissa received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Houston, and also did graduate work in International Peace & Conflict Resolution at American University. She lived in Houston and Chicago before moving to Washington, DC, in 2001.

At her day job, Clarissa is a web content strategist and project manager at an international trade association. She gave up her attempts at rosemaling, troll-making, and sewing rather quickly, and instead focuses her creative energies on writing. She intends to be famous someday.

A member of Sons of Norway since 2009, Clarissa currently serves as the lodge's newsletter editor and webmaster, and previously served as treasurer. She's involved in the lodge's Genealogy Interest Group and has received an Idrettsmerke Sports & Fitness Medal for hiking a whole lot of miles.

In her spare time, she likes to go backpacking. Her favorite mountain is Mount Rainier.