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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Norse Club records

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1930-2009
Creator: Norse Club
Extent: 1.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0845
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Founded in Iowa City in 1937 to celebrate its members' Norwegian heritage.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in boxes 2, 3, and 4.

Access: The records are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The records (donor no. 1287) were donated by The Norse Club in 2012.

Preferred Citation: Norse Club records, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

The Iowa City Norse Club was begun in 1937 by Trudy and Oscar Nybakken. The Nybakkens wanted to celebrate their heritage with other Norwegian descendants but knew of only one Norwegian couple in Iowa City. In order to recruit club members, the Nybakkens went through the phone book and called people with Norwegian sounding names. They found about twenty couples this way and had a get to know each other meeting on Syttende Mai (May 17th), the celebration of Norwegian independence. They formalized the club, chose officers, and began meeting regularly. The Norse Club originally consisted mostly of males. During World War II, it became a women's group, but reverted to allowing members of both sexes by the 1960s.

The club made it a tradition to celebrate their Norwegian heritage through music, food, humor, and friendship, with smorgasbords on Syttende Mai and at Christmas. Members presented speeches on Norwegian history, dress, food, and other topics. During World War II, citizens of Iowa City and members of the Norse Club sent care packages of food to Norway; Norse Club members were called upon to translate thank you letters received from Norwegians. When Norwegian students came to study at the University of Iowa after the war, Norse Club members invited the students into their homes.

The Norse Club records date from 1930-2009 and measure 1.5 linear feet. The records are arranged in two series: ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS and GENERAL.

The Administrative records include histories of the club, minutes beginning in 1946, treasurerer's reports dating from the 1950s to the early 1990s, and membership lists and programs. Information about the founding and early years of the club can be found in the red 1937-1977 scrapbook in the General series. Also included are questionnaires sent to the club by historian Odd Lovell, a short essay by Terry Tonneson about her Norwegian heritage, and a portion of member Audrey Jordahl's autobiography that concerns her childhood and her service in the WAVES.

The General series consists primarily of information about Norwegian history and culture that were used for presentations at Norse Club meetings. Also included are obituaries of members, photographs, and four scrapbooks that contain photographs, newspaper clippings, and other material by and about the club.

Browse by Series:
Series 2: GENERAL

  • Box 1:
  • History
  • History: Trudy and Oscar Nybakken
  • Program and hostess lists - 1978-2012
  • Membership lists - 1978/79-2012
  • Minutes - 1946-1972
  • Treasurer's reports - 1959-2013
  • Smorgasbord planning
  • Odd Lovell questionnaires
  • My Norwegian Background: Terry Tonneson
  • Autobiographical sketch: Audrey Jordahl
  • Series 2: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Artifacts: Norwegian flags
  • Correspondence - 2001-2003
  • Halden, Norway
  • Humor - 1972-2012
  • Lutefisk and recipes - 1978-1997
  • "Marriage Norwegian Style," Biography Magazine - Aug-01
  • Box 2:
  • Music
  • Napkins, placemats
  • Newspaper clippings - 1972-1998
  • Newspaper clippings - 1999-2012
  • "The Norwegians in Iowa" by Leola Nelson Bergmann, Palimpsest (1959) - 1959
  • Norwegian Table Prayer
  • Obituaries - 1992-2011
  • Pamphlets and events - 1959-2007
  • Photographs - 1992-1999
  • Box 3:
  • Presentations
  • Vesterheim Museum - 1994-2002
  • Miscellaneous - 1979-1999
  • Loose material [from white scrapbook with Norwegian flag]
  • Loose material [from red scrapbook with blue lettering]
  • Box 4:
  • Red scrapbook with blue lettering - 1937-1977
  • Plain red scrapbook - 1990-2000
  • White scrapbook with blue lettering - 1999-2006
  • Box 5:
  • Burgundy with rosemaling - 1977-1987