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Hastings man presents paper in Norway

By Katrina Styx • Staff writer

Hastings resident Lew Linde has traveled to Norway several times in his lifetime. His ancestry is Norwegian, he said, and having family living there makes it a natural destination.

In June, Linde was back in Norway with his daughter, but this time he was doing more than just visiting family. Every three years, the Norwegian-American Historical Association holds a seminar in Norway to celebrate Norwegian culture and history. This year, it was held in Fagernes, Norway, and Linde was among those attending.

“The idea behind the conference is to kind of capture history between Norway and America,” Linde said.

Linde has a law degree and also majored in history in college. He is a first-generation Norwegian-American as well, and a member of the Norwegian-American Historical Association’s branch at St. Olaf College.

At the conference, Linde wasn’t just a participant; he was also a presenter. On June 20, he presented a brief paper on Karl Fritjof Rolvaag, a former Minnesota governor and the son of a well-known Norwegian novelist. The paper served as a short history of Rolvaag’s life and political career, but it also emphasized the notion of ancestral energy, Linde said.

“The point I tried to make is that Karl Rolvaag carried forward a lot of the ideas that his father had,” he said.

“Considering that his father passed away when he was only 17 years old, Karl’s political philosophy may have been strongly influenced by his father’s eight national traits that he [Ole] believed characterized immigrant Scandinavians to an eminent degree in the new world,” Linde wrote in his paper.

The influence of those traits was inherent in Rolvaag’s political career, Linde continued, tying his work as Minnesota’s governor to his Norwegian heritage in a time full of social welfare issues.

Another point he raised in the paper was regarding Rolvaag’s wife, Florence Boedeker Rolvaag. When her husband ran for governor in 1962, she campaigned all across the state for him, Linde said. Political campaigns were often male dominated, but she was a pioneer for women in politics. Campaigning alongside her were Muriel Humphrey, Abigail McCarthy, Jane Freeman and Joan Mondale, all wives of prominent politicians at the time.

Linde said he decided to write his paper on Rolvaag because of his status as a prominent Norwegian-American in Minnesota history, and all the “heavy-hitters” that supported his efforts.

This is the fourth paper Linde has presented at the tri-annual conference. He gets no compensation for it and no recognition beyond the short time he had to deliver it in Norway. He does it simply because of his love for research and history, and for his heritage.

“I don’t make a living at this, but it’s one of my interests,” he said.