This site serves as a guide to Norwegian American Folk Music collections, organizations, and practitioners.
Norwegians immigrants hailing mostly from agrarian and seafaring communities settled substantially in America’s Upper Midwest during the 19th century, but also across the northern plains and in the Pacific Northwest.. They included numerous performers of traditional songs and tunes, as well as instrument-makers, whose descendants have both sustained and revitalized the old repertoire, while borrowing from and blending with the musical traditions of their Anglo- and European-American neighbors.
Notable performers and organizations devoted to Norwegian American folk music persist in the 21st century. Likewise several archives, museums, and individuals maintain significant collections testifying to the vitality and variety of Norwegian American folk musical expressions through such artifacts and documents as: musical instruments, including the distinctive Hardanger fiddle, the salmodikon, and the Viking cello; photographs of musicians and musical events; paintings, sketches, posters, handbills, programs, scrapbooks, newspaper stories and clippings; sheet music, songbooks and pamphlets; letters and diaries; commercial and field recordings in various formats, as well as cover art and liner notes.
This site is a production of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin, in cooperation with the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, as well as the Folklore Program, the Mills Music Library and the Department of Scandinavian Studies all at the University of Wisconsin.
Major funding was provided by the Folk Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Project Director: James P. Leary
Research: Anna Rue
Website Design and Construction: Carrie Roy
Collection Guide Creation: Anna Rue, Janet Gilmore, Karen Baumann