Journeys to America

In July 2010, Luther College (Decorah, Iowa), in partnership with Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, received a basic processing grant of $119,898 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for a project designed to make available and accessible materials documenting the Norwegian-American experience.  

The project, titled "Journeys to America: Illuminating Hidden Collections at Luther College and Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum," includes surveying materials, assessing basic conservation needs, and creating a single, searchable online catalog for both institutions' archival holdings.  Collectively, the two organizations have approximately 2500 feet of materials that document the history and culture of emigrants from Norway to the United States and their descendants, with additional emphasis on the origins of the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America, west of the Mississippi River, and the founding of Luther College, the first Norwegian-American college.  

In December 2010, newly hired project cataloging archivist Sasha Griffin joined Project Director and Luther College archivist Rachel Vagts.  With the help of student employees, materials will be cataloged and imported into Archon over the course of two years, beginning with the Luther College Archives and then Vesterheim’s archival holdings. 

After complete implementation, it is hoped that other Norwegian-American repositories will join the database in order to create a comprehensive, one-stop resource for students, genealogists, and researchers from around the world.  The end result is intended to add to the breadth of scholarship in the field of Norwegian-American studies and improve scholarship in emigration studies as a whole.

For more information, please download the Project Summary (.pdf).