Next week, Queen Sonja of Norway will be paying a visit to Minnesota to highlight the strong ties between Norway and Minnesota’s Norwegian-American community. On October 14, she will be stopping at St. Olaf College to participate in a number of events. According to Michael Kyle, St. Olaf President for Enrollment and College Relations, Queen Sonja will meet with St. Olaf students, faculty members and the Board of Regents, in addition to members of the Norwegian-American Historical Association. Additionally, she will participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Special Collections vault in the Rolvaag Memorial Library.
Amy Boxrud, Executive Director of the Norwegian-American Historical Association, commented on what the ceremony will commemorate: “The College Archives, Rolvaag Special Collections and the Norwegian-American Historical Association have been neighbors in Rolvaag Library for years, but now we are entering into a new era of collaboration. These three collections will be coming together under one roof in a new state-of-the-art vault and fully remodeled facility.”
These collections were created by the Norwegian immigrants that founded St. Olaf in 1874 in order to gather and preserve an historical record for their community, Boxrud recounted. The NAHA was founded at St. Olaf in 1925 and served as a repository for both the college and the larger Norwegian-American community for the following four decades. In 1969, “the college created its own archive to preserve the unique history of St. Olaf — its founding and its growth as an institution,” Boxrud said. “It is also home to a distinctive collection of Norwegian-American imprints — that is, books and periodicals that were published in North America for a Nordic immigrant audience from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.”
Boxrud expanded on St. Olaf’s ties to Norway: “St. Olaf College is one of about a dozen colleges or universities in North America that offer courses in the Norwegian language. It is also the only institution with its own Norwegian department. It’s also possible to earn academic credit by taking lessons on the Hardanger fiddle — Norway’s national instrument. The music ensembles have frequently toured in Norway, and every year we have a handful of Norwegian students who study here. The college has housed the Norwegian-American Historical Association in its library for nearly a century.”
St. Olaf was contacted a while ago by the Royal House of Norway, which hoped to make a stop at St. Olaf during Queen Sonja’s trip. The college happily obliged to host the Queen, who had previously visited St. Olaf in 2011, 1995 and 1978. Boxtud noted that other members of the Norwegian royal family have also visited St. Olaf, including Princess Astrid in 2008, Princess Märtha Louise in 2006, Crown Prince Haakon in 2005 and King Olav V in 1987.
While Queen Sonja of Norway will only be in Northfield for one day, she will also be making appearances in Minneapolis. She plans to attend the opening of Norway House’s new Innovation and Culture Center and participate in a centennial worship service at Mindekirken, the Norwegian Memorial Lutheran Church.
Thank you to Erin Golden, Director of Public Relations for helping in tracking down information regarding the Queen’s visit.