History of Norwegian Department

Norwegian language was commonly used at St. Olaf from its founding, as both the first two presidents, Mohn and Kildahl, as well as the founder, B.J. Muus were all born in Norway.  Some instruction in religion was in Norwegian, and chapel services were often held in the language. President Kildahl taught Norwegian in 1899-1900.  In the fall of 1900 he was responsible for founding what was later called the department of Norwegian language and literature.  Professor Theodor Jorgensen wrote up his recollections of the early history of the college and the department in this document:  A Record of Teachers of Norwegian at St. Olaf College, by Theodore Jorgensen, 1950

A Record of Teachers of Norwegian at St. Olaf College

By Theodore Jorgenson

Up to the year 1899 the college was mainly a high school and there was no separate department of Norwegian, no single one teacher who was responsible for the work. Inasmuch as the two presidents, Mohn and Kildahl, were of Norwegian birth and upbringing, they taught what to them was the mother tongue; Kildahl in 1899 and Mohn at various times. Some of the instruction in religion was during these years maintained in the Norwegian language, and the texts were not infrequently imported from Norway. The founder of the college, the Reverend Bernt Julius Muus, who until 1886 was referred to as the president of St. Olaf, always spoke Norwegian when he conducted chapel; the first printed speech in the catalog is Muus’ remarks at the opening of school in 1875; it is in Norwegian, while the remarks made by Torbjörn Mohn, the principal, as he then was called, are in the English language. 

It was President Kildahl who first enunciated a broad cultural philosophy for St. Olaf College. President Muus had moved to start the school principally on the ground that the American common school was a danger to the Christian interests of the church. The public school having banned the teaching of religion, President Muus held the view common to the Lutheran Missourians and the Catholics that it was necessary for Chritian parents to maintain a separate school system both in the lower and the higher brackets of instruction. Mr. Mohn, who became the first president of St. Olaf College in 1889, held the view that the institution had as its principal cultural purpose the adjustment of Norwegian immigrants to the environment and the linguistic climate of the new homeland. President Kildahl differed in no essential degree from the views of either Muus or Mohn, but, as the chief organizer of the modern twentieth century college, Kildahl broadened the base to include a blueprint for St. Olaf as a mediator between the Old World and the New. He thought of a college related to its Scandinavian background much as Harvard College had been related to the culture of England. 

During the year 1899-1900, President Kildahl taught Norwegian, but in the fall of the latter year he brought to Manitou heights, as head of the newly organized college department which later was named the department of Norwegian language and literature, a young theological student who was remarkably well equipped as a linguist and had in addition an unabating love for the literature of his native land. The first two decades of the twentieth century are the great teaching years of Peter J. Eikeland. At the beginning of the school year 1902-1903, there was added as part time instructor, with Mr. Eikeland, Miss Frida M. Bu, who until the end of the school year 1903-1904 divided her time between German and Norwegian, but following that year taught whole time in the department of Norwegian, but following that year taught the whole time in the department of Norwegian until the end of the school year 1906-1907. She retired to become Mrs. Homnes. 

We thus get the following setup from the beginning of the department in 1900 to the fall term of 1907:

1900-1901  ——- Peter J. Eikeland
1901-1902  ——- Peter J. Eikeland
1902-1903  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Frida M. Bu, half time
1903-1904  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Frida M. Bu, half time
1904-1905  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Frida M. Bu
1905-1906  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Frida M. Bu
1906-1907  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Frida M. Bu, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Norwegian and Mathematics

As will be seen, it was in the fall of 1906 that Professor Rölvaag was added to the department. He had graduated from St. Olaf the previous year and had also spent a year in the graduate school of the University of Oslo. His great talents and tremendous will to create might in 1906 only be surmised, although Professor Eikeland realized that Rölvaag would be no ordinary teacher. 

There came seven more good years before the First World War. During that time the staff was made up as follows:

1907-1908 ——-  Peter J. Eikeland, John Holvik, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Norwegian and Mathematics
1908-1909  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Olav Lin, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Norwegian and Mathematics
1909-1910  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, J. Jörgen Thompson, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Norwegian and Mathematics
1910-1911  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson
1911-1912  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Absalom Erdahl
1912-1913  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson
1913-1914  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson

It was during these years prior to the disturbance of the war that the department brought out the first American textbooks in the field of Norwegian. The earliest was Professor Eikeland’s Norwegian Grammar, a high school grade work of fine scholarship, by no means an ordinary beginners manual. It became recognized in Norway and was used there as one of the best grammars in the trade. John Holvik, who was later to serve as the head of the department of Norwegian at Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa, and at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, brought out a Beginners Book in Norwegian, and followed it up with a Second Book in Norwegian. These texts were widely used. Holvik and Eikeland also published annotated works for the class room, notably Ibsen’s The Pretenders, and Björson’s A Business Failure. Mr. Olav Lin was temporarily in the department; he later went into the ministry of the Lutheran church.  Mr. J. Jörgen Thompson came into the work during these years. He later divided his time between college administrative duties and teaching. Ole Edvardt Rölvaag brought out his early novels during these same years, Letters from America, and On Forgotten Paths. 

The mentality of the First World War was unfavorable to any teaching of so-called foreign languages, and the heydey enjoyed by narrow-minded patriotism and bigotry also had its serious consequences in the field of Norwegian language and literature. It was during this time that Professor Rölvaag took over the leadership of the department, succeeding the ageing Eikeland, although the latter continued for some years to teach as the grand old man of the staff. 

The teaching force was made up as follows: 

1914-1915  ——- Peter J. Eikeland, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson
1915-1916  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson, also principal of the academy, Absalom Erdahl
1916-1917  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Peter J. Eikeland, J. Jörgen Thompson, also principal of the academy, Absalom Erdahl, dividing his time with the department of English
1916-1917  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Peter J. Eikeland, J. Jörgen Thompson, Absalom Erdahl, dividing his time with the department of English

President John Nathan Kildahl retired on account of illness in 1914 and his place was taken by President L. Vignes, who served until 1918. It cannot be said that his term brought out any new educational philosophy or any material change in the policy of the school. He struggled mainly with the hardships incidental to the war period. 

When Professor Ole Edvardt Rölvaag took over the department of Norwegian, he began a series of textbooks in cooperation with Professor Eikeland, and this text book program was continued until Professor Eikeland became too weak to work and Professor Rölvaag’s time was taken by his literary creations. 

The period from the end of the First World War to the death of Professor Rölvaag in 1931 brought the registration in the department up to the highest point in the half century; it was considerably above four hundred if not nearer five hundred students, the climax being reached shortly after the centennial year of Norwegian immigration, 1925. 

The staff for these years had the following composition:

1918-1919  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Peter J. Eikeland, J. Jörgen Thompson
1919-1920  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, Peter J. Eikeland, Ida Hagen
1920-1921  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, some work in English, Ragna Tangjerd
1921-1922  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbranson, Marianna Farseth
1922-1923  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbranson, Andreas Elviken
1923-1924  ——- J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbranson, Andreas Elviken, Carl Nordberg, Ansten Anstenson (?)
1924-1925  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbranson, Andreas Elviken, Clarence Clausen, Carl Nordberg, some work in department of Religion
1925-1926  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, J. Jörgen Thompson, Carl Nordberg, some work in Religion, Clarence Clausen, Theodore Jorgenson

[Second part continus from here. The numbering in it should be  5,6 etc….[unreadable]]. 

1926-1927  ——- J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbranson, Clarence Clausen, Theodore Jorgenson, Martha Byholt
1927-1928  ——- J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbranson, Clarence Clausen, Martha Byholt, John Bly, part time
1928-1929  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, part time, J. Jörgen Thompson, Theodore Jorgenson, Esther Gulbrandson, Martha Byholt, Jacob Wulfsberg, died fall of 1928, Anna Thykesen, took Wulfsberg’s work
1929-1930  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, part time, J. Jörgen Thompson, Theodore Jorgenson, Esther Gulbrandson, Martha Byholt, Anna Thykesen
1930-1931  ——- Ole Edvardt Rölvaag, supervision, J. Jörgen Thompson, Theodore Jorgenson, Esther Gulbrandson, Martha Byholt, Anna Thykesen

During the period 1916-1931 Professor Rölvaag accomplished his most significant work and made his impressive contribution. By way of texts Rölvaag and Eikeland published the Handbook in Grammar and Pronunciation in addition to what they had planned as a comprehensive set of Norwegian- American readers. Beginning with a primer for children, Rölvaag continued with an anthology of material collected especially from the life of the immigrants in this country and designed the whole enterprise to show how the people who built St. Olaf College had also contributed significantly to almost every other field of American life. Professor Eikeland concluded the series after he had retired from active teaching by publishing his Norwegian Reader III  (Norsk Lesebok III) in an attempt to bring before the abler student the entire development of Norwegian cultural life from the earliest beginnings to our contemporary scene. 

A book also closely related to the teaching effort was published by Professor Rölvaag shortly before the Centennial celebration when he brought out Concerning out Heritage (Omkring Fedrearven). It is the most vigorous argument Rölvaag put forth in favor of his general cultural program. 

During the late twenties, the arrival of second and third generation students in greater proportions, and also the increasing role St. Olaf began to play among non-Norwegian Lutherans, made it urgent to discover a formula by which the entire European background interest of the college might be served in an effective way without disturbing the emphasis hitherto places upon the language of the pioneers. Professor Theodore Jorgenson  was then given the task of planning courses and writing an outline text for a general course in Norwegian culture, the entire content of which should be in the English language. He accordingly brought out in 1930 his Cultural Development of the Norwegian People. 

Rölvaag’s novels quite naturally played a large part in the teaching program of the department and were also productively connected with the staff blueprint of the entire personnel. It is entirely proper to mention them in connection with any survey of the work at St. Olaf. The novels were: Letters from America, On Forgotten Paths, Two Fools (later made into Pure Gold), The Boat of Longing, Giants of the Earth, Peter Victorious, and Their Father’s God. Rölvaag died in November 1931. 

Meantime the college had gone into the great depression that colored every phase of American life from the late twenties until well into the thirties. The attendance at the college had fallen off at an alarming rate; the faculty had to retrench; many of the younger teachers left the institution. 

Among those who had taught in the department were Ida Hagen and Marianna Farseth, for a short time also Ragna Tangjerd and Jacob Wulfsberg. Clarence Clausen taught four years under Rölvaag and returned to serve two years after Rölvaag’s death, but he ultimately went into the field of History. Martha Byholt served five years, but went into other work in the early thirties. The more permanent members of the staff are Miss Esther Gulbrandson, who began her service at St. Olaf in the fall of 1920; Mr. Theodore Jorgenson, who was added to the staff in the fall of 1925; and Miss Anna Thykesen, who took over the work Mr. Wulfsberg had carried in the fall of 1928. Other teachers appeared somewhat tangent to the general program. Mr. Elviken came over from Oslo to be in the department for a time; Mr. Nordberg, who was mainly a theologian, served under Rölvaag, as did also Mr. Bly, the college registrar, during 1927-1928 when both Mr. Rölvaag and Mr. Jorgenson were absent on leave. 

From 1931 to the end of the Boe administration in 1942 the staff of the department was as follows:

1931-1932  ——- Clarence Clausen, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1932-1933  ——- Clarence Clausen, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1933-1934  ——- J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen, Karen Larsen, part time
1934-1935  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Karen Larsen, part time

1935-1936  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, some work in German, Anna Thykesen, Karen Larsen continued to teach Norwegian History for a number of years

1936-1937  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Anna Thykesen, Ella Valborg Rölvaag
1937-1938  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1938-1939  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1939-1940  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1940-1941  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1941-1942  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen

The most striking feature of the work during these years is its permanence both in the offering of courses and in the staff. The depression and the death of Professor Rölvaag created a danger situation that no one was eager to touch. President Boe favored changes in the requirements of the college, but the decade passed with the principal effort directed towards fortifying the college and holding the lines as far as possible at every point. The course in Norwegian Culture was, during Professor Jorgenson’s absence, given to Professor Karen Larsen of the department of History, but it was then given more as a straight history course ultimately embodied in the fine text, History of Norway, produced by Dr. Larsen. 


When Professor Jorgenson returned to the college after a stay in Europe, he took over the chairmanship of the department and began a series of books the writing of which continued throughout the decade. He had in 1933 published a History of Norwegian Literature. In 1935-1936 came his doctoral dissertation, Scandinavian Unionism, relating the subject to Norway during the years 1814-1870. In 1939 he issued the biography of Professor Rölvaag written in cooperation with Professor Solum of the department of English; Ole Edvardt Rölvaag: A Biography, which became the standard work in the field. 


Professor J. Jörgen Thompson, who became the veteran members of the department upon the death of Professor Rölvaag in 1931, continued to teach, but most of his attention was directed toward other duties placed upon him in the capacity of Dean of Men. He had also been elected general secretary of the Norwegian-American Historical Association at the very founding of this organization, and in that direction he continued to do a great deal of work. When President Boe died, Mr. Thompson was made interim head of the college, for which reason he was for some time not an active classroom teacher. 


Professor Clausen left Saint Olaf in 1933 to become professor of History at Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio. 

Miss Ella Valborg Rölvaag, Professor Rölvaag’s daughter, took Miss Gulbrandson’s place in the department during the school year 1936-1937. Later Miss Rölvaag taught the same subject at Luther College and at the University of Minnesota. 

The regular staff for the decade was: Jorenson, Thompson, Gulbrandson, Thykesen. 

During the years from 1942 to 1950 the staff was as follows:

1942-1943  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1943-1944  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1944-1945  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen
1946-1947  ——- J. Jörgen Thompson, part time, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen, Reidar Dittmann, Alf Houkom, librarian, part time
1947-1948  ——- J. Jörgen Thompson, part time, Theodore Jorgenson, Esther Gulbrandson, Anna Thykesen, Reidar Dittmann, Nora F. Jorgenson, part time
1948-1949  ——- Theodore Jorgenson, J. Jörgen Thompson, part time, Esther Gulbrandson, Reidar Dittmann, Ingvald Torvik

The decade of the forties was, of course dominated by the second World War, much as the depression had colored the decade of the thirties, and the first World War had overshadowed everything else in the teens of the twentieth century. 


With the calling of the men of the college into military service, the attendance dropped to about 60 percent of what it otherwise might have been. 


But, with the end of the war came also a great inrush of new students, so that the department experienced a bulging our similar to what it had experienced in the twenties. The figures of enrollment did not reach what they had been in the middle years of the centennial decade, but they nevertheless passed the four hundred mark, while there had been times in the thirties when the number of students in the department did not total half of that figure. 


As we have mentioned, Professor Thompson became interim president of St. Olaf College upon the death of President Boe. With the coming of President Granskou in 1943, Mr. Thompson became assistant to the President. He did no active work in Norwegian for two years, but during the years from 1946 to 1948 he acted as chairman, first during the absence of Professor Jorgenson and the second year at Professor Jorgenson’s request, because the latter wanted time to write. In 1946 he had been the democratic candidate for the United States Senate. 


On account of the great enrollment bulge in 1946, additional teaching force had to be provided. Mr. Dittman had come to the United States as the first exchange student from Norway to St. Olaf. He taught full time during Professor Jorgenson’s absence. In further addition, Mr. Alf Houkom, the college librarian, had some classes in Norwegian language. 


In the spring of 1950 the faculty adopted a new constitution governing the requirements for graduation at St. Olaf College. By it the requirement in Norwegian was eliminated, but the language itself as well as Norwegian literature and culture came into a fairly advantageous position by the change, and there was no marked drop in enrollment at the opening of school in the fall of 1950. The elimination of the requirement had its great advantages, notably this that it could no longer be argued students took any class because he was pressed to do so. 


In the summer of 1950 the Norwegian Cultural Institute was organized with Dr. Jorgenson as director and Professor Dittmann as managing director. The institute ran a fairly successful term of six weeks following the regular spring term of the college. In attendance were mainly boys who for one reason or another needed credit, but there were a few who came as far as from California and New York specifically for the Norwegian summer school. 


During this span of years, from 1942 to 1950, Dr. Jorgenson continued to provide books without which it would have been difficult to carry on the work of the department. In 1943 came his Norwegian-English School Dictionary, which ran into several printings and is now about to come in a second, revised and enlarged edition. It has been used throughout the United States mainly because of the form apparatus printed with the words and the definitions. In 1945 came the volume Henrik Ibsen: A Study in Art and Personality, which also has gone through two printings and has been used as an Ibsen guide throughout the United States. At St. Olaf it became the text of the Ibsen drama course. 


In fact the drama of Henrik Ibsen has come to take an increasingly important part in the general instruction at St. Olaf in proportion as the student mind has shifted from the language of their forefathers to the culture brought by the pioneers to this country and make an important segment of our Midwestern heritage. 


Other teaching aids have also been provided in the department, notably translations of hitherto unavailable plays and longer poems by Henrik Ibsen but also translations and outlines for other courses now given in translation. In 1947 Dr. Jorgenson contributed the section on Norwegian literature in the Encyclopedia of World Literature, a general work of ever present convenience to teachers and students of comparative literature. 


Mr. Dittmann has also prepared a volume of readings for use in second year classes in Norwegian, but hitherto he has not been able to publish on account of the high cost of such services. Miss Gulbrandson had furnished outlines and translations for her course in Norwegian Masterpieces in Translation. 


Dr. Karen Larsen published during this time her extremely valuable History of Norway. Although Miss Larsen is engaged in the field of History, it cannot be doubted that her book is the outcome of her teaching the specific course which was also given credit for the requirement in Norwegian until the change in the spring of 1950. 




In any consideration of teachers’ load or in the general appraisal of the department, it is necessary to consider that the work in Norwegian cannot be limited to an effort in the classroom. In German, French, Spanish and other fields, St. Olaf College is a small spur in a vast chain of mountains, but in the work started by Eikeland and Rölvaag, Manitou Heights are themselves the landscape that must produce all the facilities. 

With the exception of EInar Haugen’s Beginning Norwegian and Reading Norwegian, and slightly also with the exception of the parallel volume published by Maren Michelet, the whole shelf of material used in the work of the department has been produced, either by St. Olaf teachers directly or by people associated with the instructors in the college for the promotion of work in Norwegian. 

The following is a hurried compilation of works produced by men and women either in or associated with the department at the college: 

  1.  Peter J. Eikeland, Norwegian Grammar (Norsk grammatikk)
  2.  P. J. Eikeland and O. E. Rölvaag, Handbook in Grammar and


  1. P. J. Eikeland, Norwegian Reader III (Norsk lesebok III)
  2. O. E. Rölvaag, Norwegian Reader I  (Norsk lesebok I)
  3. O. E. Rölvaag, Norwegian Reader II  (Norsk lesebok II)
  4. O. E. Rölvaag, A Book of Readings (Deklamationsboken) 
  5. John A. Holvik, Beginners Book in Norwegian 
  6. John A. Holvik, SEcond Book in Norwegian
  7. J. A. Holvik and P. J. Eikeland, Björnson’s A Bankruptcy
  8. J. A. Holvik and P. J. Eikeland, Ibsen’s The Pretenders
  9. O. E. Rölvaag, Concerning Our Heritage (Omkring Fedrearven)
  10. O. E. Rölvaag, Letters from America (Amerika-Brev)
  11. O. E. Rölvaag, On Forgotten Paths (Paa glemte veie)
  12. O. E. Rölvaag, Two Fools (To tullinger)
  13. O. E. Rölvaag, The Boat of Longing (Lengselens baat)
  14. O. E. Rölvaag, Giants of the Earth (I de dage)
  15. O. E. Rölvaag, Peder Victorious (Peder Seier)
  16. O. E. Rölvaag, Their Fathers’ God (Den signede dag)
  17. Theodore Jorgenson, The Cultural Development of the Norwegian People
  18. Theodore Jorgenson, History of Norwegian Literature
  19. Theodore Jorgenson, Scandinavian Unionism 
  20. Theodore Jorgenson and Nora O. Solum, Ole Edvardt Rölvaag 
  21. Theodore Jorgenson, Norwegian-English School Dictionary
  22. Theodore Jorgenson, Henrik Ibsen: A Study in Art and Personality
  23. Theodore Jorgenson, An Outline of Scandinavian Literature (Notes from

the University of So. Cal.)

  1. Theodore Jorgenson and students, Henrik Ibsen’s St. John’s Night
  2. Theodore Jorgenson, In the Mountain Wilderness and Other Poems by

Henrik Ibsen

  1. Theodore Jorgenson, “Norwegian Literature” in Encyclopedia of World


  1. Karen Larsen, History of Norway
  2. Kenneth Björk, A Saga in Steel and Concrete (produced as a direct

consequence of Rölvaag’s work and in connection with the Norwegian-American Historical Association)

  1. Reidar Dittmann, A Second Year Reader (Not yet published)


If we may say without exaggeration that each of these volumes represents on the average a time of three years labor for one scholar, the total production approached the work of one man for one hundred years, or two men a year for fifty years, 1900-1950. 


But there are a great many other considerations to take when estimating the educational situation both within the department itself and the larger environment in which the work must be planned and carried out if it is to be done at all. 


It costs a lot of money to write books, not to speak of publishing them. Mr. Jorgenson received in 1947 from the [Farmer’s] Union the amount of $3000 for 30 syndicated articles from Europe; Mr. Björk received $5000 as a grant from the Norwegian-American Historical Association for the writing of A Saga in Steel and Concrete. The church that runs St. Olaf College must have paid Dr. Huggenvik and Dr. Hegland between five and ten thousand dollars in royalties for some of the volumes they have contributed. If it is argued that the people bought the books as a business proposition, the answer is that we have all been equally in the full time service of the same church. 


Professor Rölvaag did, of course, receive a good deal of money for his novels, but this money did not come from the church. I remember that for his books published specifically within the church he received one year the enormous sum of $48, and I rather think that even so it was a better than average year. The conclusion is amply justified that even the expenses incident to the writing of these books have in the main been borne by the authors themselves. 

To my knowledge the college has never given a member of the department a leave of absence with pay during all these fifty years unless it be a slight adjustment in the case of Professor Rölvaag in 1923. It could be that Professor Eikeland in 1916 received the difference between his own salary and the salary of the man who served in his stead during that year. I am not aware of any other adjustments. 


More than that. I am sure the department on an average has received a lower salary than most of the departments of the college. Miss Gulbrandson and Miss Thykesen have served thirty and twenty years respectively. Their salaries have been inexcusably low, so much so that when Miss Thykesen, who is very loyal to the college, retired from active service, she made the remark that only one thing in connection with St. Olaf made her blush, namely the total of the salary for which she had given twenty years of her life. It may be that Professor Eikeland and Professor Rölvaag during a number of years received top salary in the college schedule, but it is safe to say that for about one half of the fifty years the department has operated, the chairman has not received top level salary from the institution directly. 

I am writing this in response to an intimation that the department is not carrying a sufficiently heavy teaching load. 


During the two years prior to the change in the requirement, that is prior to 1950, the registration in Norwegian showed, I believe, between 350 and 400 students. My tables show that from 1946 onward we had four teachers engaged in full time work or a combination of teachers making four regular instructorships. Mr. J. Jörgen Thompson taught only one class, but during 1946-1947 Gulbrandson, Thykesen, Dittmann made three and Thompson and Houkom made one teacher. During 1947-1948 the class taught by Mr. Thompson and the class taught by Nora F. Jorgenson were in excess of four teachers. In 1948-1949 Jorgenson, Gulbrandson, Thykesen made three teachers; Galdal and Nora F. Jorgenson made one. During 1949-1950 Jorgenson, Gulbrandson, Dittmann, Torvik made four full time teachers. 


In anticipation of a drop in the enrollment as a result of the change in requirements, the department cut at the end of the school year 1949-1950 one full teacher making the staff in 1950-1951 Jorgenson, Gulbrandson, Dittmann. At his own request Mr. Thompson is carrying one class, but that is hardly an extra load for the college inasmuch as it involves no added salary payment. 


I must point out that the registration in the department was fully large enough to justify the employment of four teachers all these years. I am not aware that is was at any time below the ratio of one teacher to eighteen students now maintained by the college, and this ratio is again unfavorable to St. Olaf College, for of sixty-eight colleges investigated only thirteen showed up worse than St. Olaf in the matter of ratio between teacher and student. 


I must also point out that instead of decreasing at the opening of school in the fall of 1950, the enrollment in the department went slightly higher. With a proper size of classes especially in the first and second year language courses we ought this year also to have had four teachers. Yet we cut three first year language sections and one second year language section making fifteen hours, and we cut the instruction Mr. Torvik temporarily gave in Old Norse. Even without the latter we cut the equivalent of one teacher without having the corresponding reduction in enrollment. 


If we were to drop another teacher the coming year, the department would be cut in half as far as teaching staff is concerned, and it would be reduced to a standard below what it has been since 1910, that is, during the last forty years. 


When the change was made in the language requirement, it was recognized that the enrollment might drop in the department of Norwegian, but the assurance was given that the administration would stand by the work to the extent of actively promoting it. We do not have the prospect of more than a normal falling off in percentages that would apply to other language departments as well. To cut the staff by twenty-five percent in 1950 and to cut another twenty-five percent in 1951 could only mean a gradual liquidation of the department unless the enrollment at the college drops to somewhere around 800 students. 


It must also be kept in mind that members of the Norwegian department by training and residence are fully qualified to teach other college subjects and therefore might be shifted until the enrollment again should reach a more normal level. But there is no such shifting possible into the department of Norwegian from other departments. 


If there is any harshness in this argument, it is not intended. I have tried to keep it objective, and I do not personally have any serious complaint to make with reference to my own work.; but I do think these pages will show nothing more than the plain truth of the situation.