As it Was in the Beginning Available Online

Gary De Krey, Director
Jeff Sauve, Associate Archivist

The Joseph Shaw-Joan Olson Center for College History (Archives) has made Georgina Dieson Hegland’s As it Was in the Beginning (1950) available online.

This history of the early years of St. Olaf is being offered as a contribution to Women’s History Month in March and to the Northfield Sesquicentennial, celebrated in Northfield throughout 2005.

The author was the sixth woman to graduate from the college department of St. Olaf (in 1904) and a lifelong advocate for women’s higher education and professional involvement. As a young woman, she pursued a career as a teacher of languages and writing, continuing to use her maiden name after marriage, which was unusual for the era. She served briefly as preceptress (or dean) of women at St. Olaf, and she produced the first program on WCAL devoted to women’s concerns.

Intensely involved in Lutheran and Norwegian-American culture, she found the sources for her advocacy of women’s advancement in the traditions that made up her heritage. She was active in several Northfield organizations, including the League of Women Voters and the AAUW; and she was the first resident of the Northfield Retirement Center when it opened in 1969. She died in 1978.

Georgina Dieson Hegland was also a first-rate storyteller. Her account of St. Olaf during its first 40 years is filled with anecdotes about students and faculty families whose names still grace our campus, especially the Mohns, the Ytterboes and the Kildahls. She was particularly interested in student life in the original women’s dormitory, Ladies’ Hall, the subject of an exhibit of images on the Center’s website.

We hope As it Was in the Beginning will remain a St. Olaf resource for courses in history, women’s studies and American studies. The text is accompanied by photographs of St. Olaf before the World War I.