Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Norway in America in Norway(?)

If you ever come to Sletta on the island of Radøy somewhat north of Bergen in Norway, you may find it a bit strange to encounter an American church, an American school, an American jail(!) and various other American buildings. No, you have not arrived at the local version of Disney World, but at The Western Norway Emigration Center (Vestnorsk Utvandringssenter).

According to their Web-site the aim of the Center is to:

Over 800.000 Norwegians have immigrated to America. The official starting date is generally considered to be the fourth of July 1825, when the “Restauration” set sail from Stavanger. The scooter “Ægir” sailed from Bergen in 1837 with many residents of Hordaland aboard. Emigration was thereafter to leave it’s stamp on Norway for over a century. The Western Norway Emigration Center stands today as a memorial to those who left and their descendants
To this end they have brought home from America the buildings mentioned and also other memorabilia. It is all in the eyes of the beholder, but to me original buildings belong in the area where they were built. As it is, it gives more an impression of imigration than emigration.

But they do have an emigration archive that has helped many with their research into family history:

The Emigration Archive
Includes the names of 96.000 emigrants from Hordaland and Sogn og Fjordane regions up until 1924. Jahn Sjursen has, throughout the years, searched and found the information which is there preserved. Many books, articles, pictures and historical objects from the emigration period are also collected there. The archive, as well as the rest of the collection, were donated to the Emigration Center on the 5th of July 1997 by Jahn Sjursen. The collection has since been enriched through several new books and artifacts.

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