America in the Forties: Letters of Ole Munch Ræder was first published in 1929. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.These lively, well-informed letters with their shrewd comment on the American scene are an important addition to Americana. Between De Tocqueville and Bryce there were few more competently trained observers than the author, Munch Ræder, a distinguished Norwegian jurist sent by his government in 1847 to study American legal institutions.Ræder traveled widely and wrote home to a Christiania newspaper his observations on many topics: American politics and social customs, the working of the “melting pot,” slavery, westward expansion, transportation, Chicago with a budding reputation as a tough town, New York where hogs on the open streets had been forbidden. Not without interest is the reaction of the United States to the European revolution of 1848 and Munch Ræder’s own dream of a Pan-Scandinavian Union.Dr. Gunnar J. Malmin has supplied an excellent translation of the necessary notes. Through the aid of descendants of Munch Ræder, he has added letters not published in the original Christiana journal.
The Land Lies Open was first published in 1949. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.In The Land Lies Open some of the thousands of characters and incidents that made up the panorama of exploration and settlement in the Upper Mississippi Valley are recreated. Although the author is an outstanding professional historian, he writes with the narrative skill of a novelist; his history is never dry and remote, but always vividly alive.Here are the stories of a few of the many thousands who, when the land at last lay open, moved in to people it. From the rich mosaic of their lives Mr. Blegen has set down tales that stir the imagination. Some of the men Mr. Blegen writes about have famous names – Father Louis Hennepin, La Vérendrye, Hernando de Soto, Louis Jolliet – but most of them were jjust plain people unknown to present-day Americans. There are stories of adventurous sons of New France, England, and America who slowly, over a period of more than two centuries, opened to knowledge and usefulness the river channels leading into the great Midwest.The tales set down in The Land Lies Open vary from an exciting buffalo hunt to the story of immigrant farmers who came to the Midwest and patiently coaxed new kinds of fruit and grain to maturity. There are stories of bitter townsite rivalries, of a covered wagon heroine, of the Yankees who moved westward to leave the stamp of New England on the midwestern frontier, and of “pioneers of the second line” who developed new forms of social organization and action as these were needed.Once more, as in Grass Roots History, Mr. Blegen gives eloquent proof that history is not made by spectacular events or the experiences of a few exceptional people, but by all the small, everyday people whose names are unfamiliar.
Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads was first published in 1936. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.This book, presenting the English and Norwegian texts of more than fifty emigrant songs and ballads, forms a unique contribution to folk literature and social history. Here is collected for the first time a group of songs born of the European folk movement to America during the nineteenth century.Many of the ballads are human stories of gripping interest. They cover a wide range of emotions, from pathos and nostalgia to anger and satire. Some are gay and humorous skits. The most popular of the ballads is the rollicking “Oleana.” Some of the others are: “Farewell to the Spinning Wheel,” “Sigrid’s Song,” “Let Us Away and over the Sea,” “El Dorado,” “A Pestilence is Loose in the Mountains,” “Brothers, the Day of Norway’s Freedom,” and “A Song Concerning the Emigration to America.”A general historical sketch precedes the ballads, and each song in turn is placed in its special setting by a brief preface. Music, harmonized for the piano, is provided for a dozen of the ballads.