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Danes and Icelanders in Michigan

Howard L. Nicholson, Anders J. Gillis, Russell M. Magnaghi

Publication Year: 2013

Immigration of Danes and Icelanders to Michigan began in the 1850s and continued well into the twentieth century. Beginning with their origins, this book takes a detailed look at their arrival and settlement in Michigan, answering some key questions: What brought Danes and Icelanders to Michigan? What challenges did they face? How did they adjust and survive here? Where did they settle? What kind of lasting impact have they had on Michigan’s economic and cultural landscape? Extensively researched, this book examines the public and private lives of Danish and Icelandic immigrants in Michigan, drawing from both individual and institutional histories. Shedding new light on the livelihood, traditions, religion, social life, civic organizations, and mutual benefit societies, this thorough, insightful book highlights a small but important population within Michigan’s borders.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, About the Series, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-9

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pp. ix-x

...Public Library; the Flat River Historical Society and Museum, Greenville, Michigan; the Manistee County Historical Museum, Manistee, Michigan; the Marquette Regional History Center, Marquette, Michigan; the Mason County Historical Society and Historic White Pine Village, Ludington, Michigan; and the White Cloud Michigan Community Library, White Cloud, Michigan. Th roughout Michigan there were countless individuals who graciously shared their family files and materials, which greatly...

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pp. xi-xii

...Denmark is also presented along with the immigration process. Although the number of Danes and Icelanders was small, those who settled in Michigan could readily interact with other Scandinavian peoples—Norwegians and Swedes—whose languages and cultures were similar. As collective groups they experienced increased economic prosperity and integration into the American milieu...

Danes in Michigan

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pp. 3-4

...Danish immigration to America was a stream rather than a mass exodus. From 1820 to 1905 an estimated 225,000 Danes emigrated. Very few early Danish Americans settled in Michigan. In 1850 there were thirteen Danish-born persons in Michigan; by 1870 there were 1,354; and in 1890, there were 6,335. Danes were always a small number in terms of the larger Scandinavian immigration. They dispersed across Michigan with...

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Danish Religion, Folk Schools, and Fraternal Organizations

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pp. 5-20

...education to create and cultivate an appreciation of Danish culture and language. Danish social organizations fostered and promoted Danish culture by emphasizing holidays and mores. Michigan’s Danes were also linked with Denmark through...

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Michigan’s Danish Communities

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pp. 21-46

...settlements built on logging. White pines were logged from the dense surrounding forests, processed in the local saw mills built on the banks of the Flat River, and then shipped to eager markets. Though Denmark was not especially known for agriculture, Danes were hardly deterred. Greenville was adopted by Danish pioneers who commenced to build what became known as the Big Dane Settlement....

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pp. 47-48

...In reviewing U.S. census data approaching the mid-twentieth century in 1940, there were 107,982 Danes in the United States. Of that number 5,441 were residing in Michigan, with 3,402 living in urban settings, 1,204 living on farms, and 835 living in non-farm communities. It is interesting to note that forty years earlier the vast majority of Michigan Danes were living in rural areas. By the 1950 census the number of Danish immigrants...

Icelanders in Michigan

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pp. 51-56

...result the Icelandic population of Michigan has been negligible. Further complicating identifying Icelanders is the fact that during the nineteenth century Iceland was a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. As a result United States census takers did not officially identify Iceland as a place of birth on their enumeration lists until the 1930 census. So we must...

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Icelanders in Michigan

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pp. 57-62

...Between 1880 and 1920 names like Guermander and Dagbartt Johnason, Elph Freeman, Adam and Anne Graboske, Albert and Augusta Ambjornson, Bary Brynjolfrion, and Oscar Hoff man rather accidentally appear on the enumerated census sheets with “Iceland” written after their names. This is rare because since Iceland at the...

Appendix 1. Archives and Libraries

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pp. 63-66

Appendix 2. Recipes

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pp. 67-72

Appendix 3. Immigrant Letters

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pp. 73-78


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pp. 79-84

For Further Reference

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pp. 85-90


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pp. 91-93

E-ISBN-13: 9781609173869
E-ISBN-10: 1609173864
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860948
Print-ISBN-10: 1611860946

Page Count: 105
Illustrations: 9
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1st