Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads

Theodore C. Blegen, editor
Translated by Martin B. Ruud

Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads was first published in 1936. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

This book, presenting the English and Norwegian texts of more than fifty emigrant songs and ballads, forms a unique contribution to folk literature and social history. Here is collected for the first time a group of songs born of the European folk movement to America during the nineteenth century.

Many of the ballads are human stories of gripping interest. They cover a wide range of emotions, from pathos and nostalgia to anger and satire. Some are gay and humorous skits. The most popular of the ballads is the rollicking “Oleana.” Some of the others are: “Farewell to the Spinning Wheel,” “Sigrid’s Song,” “Let Us Away and over the Sea,” “El Dorado,” “A Pestilence is Loose in the Mountains,” “Brothers, the Day of Norway’s Freedom,” and “A Song Concerning the Emigration to America.”

A general historical sketch precedes the ballads, and each song in turn is placed in its special setting by a brief preface. Music, harmonized for the piano, is provided for a dozen of the ballads.

Theodore C. Blegen, who provides the historical introduction to the collection and to each of the ballads, gathered most of these songs during a year spent in Norway as a Gugenheim fellow. He was superintendent of the Minnesota Historical Society, managing editor of publications for the Norwegian-American Historical Association, and associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota. His works include Norwegian Migration to America and numerous other studies in the fields of immigration and Western history.

Martin B. Ruud, who supplies the translations, was professor of English at the University of Minnesota. Among his several works are: The History of Shakespeare in Norway, The History of Shakespeare in Denmark, and Thomas Chaucer (Minnesota, 1926).

Gunnar J. Malmin, former head of the music department at Dana College, Blair, Nebraska, has arranged the melodies for piano. He is editor of America in the Forties: The Letters of Ole Munch Ræder (Minnesota, 1929).

About This Book