Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Norwegian American women--Middle West--History--19th century; Women farmers--Middle West--History--19th century; Women landowners--Middle West--History--19th century;


On May 20, 1862 Congress signed into effect the Homestead Act which provided 160 acres of surveyed government land to any citizen over the age of twenty-one and who was a head of household. One of the most historical aspects of this act was that it allowed single women the opportunity to own land. Not only were native-born women taking advantage of such a lucrative offer, but the women of Norway saw just the opening they needed to venture out on their own. They joined thousands of their countrymen across the Atlantic to find a bit of land where they could indulge in the cornucopia of bounty that they were assured the Dakota plains had to offer. Norwegians have a rich farming history and take great pride in working the land. Women were trained from a young age to work long hours in the fields cutting and drying hay as well as managing the milking herds in the saeters (mountain pasture) of their native Norway. This strong work ethic was transported to the many Norwegian-American farm communities that dotted the Upper Midwest where it was not uncommon to find young women working alongside their fathers and brothers in the fields and barnyards. It can be no wonder that these women were able to slip right into the profession of farmer on their small claims. But no one did it alone. Along with their often tight-knit Norwegian communities and the available government resources, single women of Norwegian descent were able to apply their knowledge and experience to their Dakota homesteads to become successful farmers and pass their love for farming and land onto future generations.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of History

First Advisor

Trudy Eden

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 112 pages : illustrations)



File Format