Nordic American Voices Oral History Program

The only oral history initiative with a specific focus on Nordic immigrants and their descendants


Nordic American Voices (NAV) oral history program

 

Nordic American Voices (NAV) oral history program is one of the Museum’s tools for engaging with collective memory in the wake of migration, identifying shared values, and understanding how immigrants and descendants draw on the past to inform action in the present. The project is the only oral history initiative with a specific focus on Nordic immigrants and their descendants. To date, more than 550 interviews have been recorded, transcribed, and entered into a searchable database in the Museum’s permanent collection for research.

 

Nordic American Voices (NAV) oral history program builds upon the expertise gained in the 1999 – 2000 Vanishing Generation Project, when 123 interviews were recorded by more than forty volunteers. In 2001 the Museum, together with project partners the Ballard Historical Society and the Swedish Finn Historical Society, published the 289-page book Voices of Ballard: Immigrant Stories from the Vanishing Generation, which contained narrative renditions of over 100 interview transcripts.

The most recent book published by the NAV project is: Voices of Ballard and Beyond: Stories of Immigrants and Their Descendants in the Pacific Northwest, which is the result of a three-year effort by volunteers for the Nordic American Voices oral history project. Since 2009, this group of volunteers has recorded more than 230 interviews at the Museum and in locations throughout the Puget Sound region. Thirty-two stories gleaned from these interviews are included in the new publication along with ninety-seven stories that formed the 2001 book.

This new publication follows the release in 2011 of the video documentary, Under the Clouds of War: Growing Up in Occupied Denmark and Norway, also based on interviews conducted by project volunteers. The book has received two awards: the 2013 Virginia Marie Folkins Award for an “exemplary historical publication” from the Association of King County Historical Organizations and a Washington Museum Association Award of Project Excellence.

Some excerpts from

Voices of Ballard and Beyond:

"My father was like my big fat Greek wedding. He was that way about being Danish. He used to distribute a little blurb. I don’t know where he found it, proving that George Washington was Danish. He was related to Gorm 'the Old,' and he took the whole chronology back so that the United States is actually a kingdom of Denmark. He had a whole spiel."

— Lori Larsen 

 

Nordic American Voices completed a documentary on the Finnish experience in World War II. The film is based on numerous video interviews conducted since 2009 of Finnish Americans residing in the Northwest.

The documentary includes personal stories about the Winter War (1939 – 1940), the Continuation War (1941 – 1944), the evacuation of Finnish children to Sweden and other safe havens, and the relocation and integration of Finns living in the territories ceded to the Soviet Union. 

NAV volunteers have also identified interviews of Swedish-Americans, who lived in Sweden during the war, that contain stories of Swedish families accepting some of the 63,000 Finnish children sent to Sweden. 

Volunteers working on the documentary are seeking your help in identifying additional Swedish-Americans living locally who have personal stories of this humanitarian effort by Sweden during WWII. Please contact NAV volunteers Gordon Strand at 206.783.6634 or Gary London at 206.734.8844 if you can help with this project. 

Copies of the book are available in the Museum Store for $19.95! 

 

Orders may also be placed by contacting [email protected]

 

A $5 shipping and handling fee will apply for delivery in the US; for multiple copies, additional shipping fees will apply. 

Please allow 7 – 10 days for delivery. 

 

 

Volunteer with NAV

The Nordic American Voices program thrives with the assistance of many volunteers.

 

The Nordic American Voices Steering Committee also seeks the community’s assistance in identifying interview participants and in conducting interviews.

 

Please consider becoming a project volunteer nominating a narrator by contacting Michael Ide at 206.789.5707 x12 or [email protected].

If you own a retail business and are interested in selling the book at your store, please email  [email protected] for information about wholesale options.

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