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Norwegian Pioneers
Educate Their Daughters

Gracia Grindal

When Lutheran church leaders came from Norway in the middle of the nineteenth century, educational plans for each gender were based on deeply held beliefs about what a man was and what a woman was. Teenage boys were to be educated at a school away from home—Luther College for those in the Norwegian Synod. Girls were to be educated in the parlors of an aunt or close friends of her parents. At the time they immigrated, how to educate their children had been central to the cultural debates of their day. Those arguments lived on in this country while the Norwegian Synod pastors were deciding how to build such institutions for their children. Now they lived not only in a new land and culture, but also in a new era when the role of women was changing.

Luther remained the only college among Norwegians-Americans that did not admit women in the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. The arguments surrounding these decisions reveal deeply traditional understandings of men and women held by these Norwegian-Americans. Finally, in 1932 Luther College became a co-educational institution.

Gracia Grindal surveys these developments within the history of the Norwegian Synod. The arguments regarding the education of women reveal some of the deeply traditional understandings of men and women held by the Norwegian immigrants. Although by today's standards, they appear sexist and exclusive, they reveal the traditions that shaped the Lutheran church in America.

Unstoppable is an invaluable addition to U.S. immigrant history. Numerous letters from pioneer pastor’s wives are a primary source of information. These talented women covered all facets of the Norwegian-American immigrant lives in their letters and sketches. Author Grindal has done a superb work in sharing the lives, thoughts, and convictions of this unique and interesting group of Norwegian-American immigrant women. I was absorbed by the book from beginning to end!
David W Preus, President, The American Lutheran Church

The true value of Gracia’s close study of the small world of a particular Norwegian American immigrant community is that it opens readers to the challenges of the larger world—how to eliminate disparities in educational opportunities everywhere, whether based on gender, race, national identity, social class.
Wilfred F. Bunge, Professor Emeritus, Luther College

Family values began to replace medieval values when Martin Luther decided to leave the monastery and marry in the year 1525. For the next 500 years, the Lutheran parsonage served as a model of family life. Elisabeth Koren and Linka Preus grew up in the Old World and carried that tradition to the rugged frontier of the New World. Don’t miss this fascinating story of how women found strength in rough times and went on to enrich our way of life.
J. R. Christianson, Professor Emeritus, Luther College


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ISBN: 978-1-942304-16-6
398 Pages
Size: 6 x 9
Binding: Perfect bound
Publisher: Lutheran University Press
Quantity in Basket: None

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