The Scandinavian Emigration Era Explained :]

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Hej guys. It’s Carly

So, I wrote an essay about the Scandinavian Emigration Era for fun because I can.

I actually wrote this during swim school a few days ago because there was a thunderstorm, and we were evacuated.

I made an essay similar to this last year, and I see improvement.

So here it is… The Scandinavian Emigration Era explained that a 14-year-old girl who has 0 social skills

The Scandinavian Emigration Era is a period in Nordic History that, well… Nobody really knows where it started or ended. Some people believe it is from 1830 to 1920, others from 1850 to 1900.

Image credit:
BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY VIA ARCHIVE.ORG

In my personal opinion, it lasts from 1820 to 1910. A little disclaimer: This era doesn’t just mean it’s just about Mass Emigration. I consider this era as a “Subera” of the Early Modern Scandinavian History Era

As the name suggests, this era was where Scandinavia had mass emigration and the beginning of Scandinavian-American History. There were actually many reasons why this happened

The first reason was overpopulation. The population of Scandinavia (which was only three countries: Norway-Sweden, Denmark, which had Iceland, and Russia-controlled Finland) was slightly smaller than the current population of Scandinavia, 25 million people.

Overpopulation was blamed on mandatory vaccination (which was pretty new; after all, it’s the 19th century) and better nutrition. The average family in 19th-century Sweden or Norway had 3 to 5 children.

The 2nd reason was geography. Some areas of Scandinavia have good farmland, like central Sweden, Northern Denmark, and most of Finland, But most weren’t good.

Additionally, the king of Sweden (and maybe Norway since they were the same country) made a law that required farmland to be half its original size. This law was for environmental reasons, but it did more harm than good. The law caused the rural Scandinavian population (which was 90% at the time) to be more prone to starvation and famine.

Speaking of famine, there was a two-year-long famine in Sweden. The famine mostly affected Southern Swedes and led to thousands of deaths. Scandinavians were sick and tired of all of these problems, so they had two choices.

Picture this: You’re a Swede who lives in Småland in the 1850s. You have been dealing with crop failures for a long time, and you and your family are starving. You could move to a city like Stockholm up north or to America.

Most Scandinavians picked the latter option. Around 2,700,000 to 3,000,000 Scandinavians Emigrated during the 19th century alone. Most of these emigrants were from certain areas.

The most common place of origin for Swedish Americans is Southern Sweden *Mostly Småland and Blekinge) For Norwegian Americans, it’s Stavanger for some odd reason. In short, Southern Scandinavia wasn’t good.

Finns, Icelanders, and Danes were a bit more progressive, but there were still problems. Iceland was in the aftermath of the Mist Hardships. A funny fact is that most Icelanders actually emigrated to Canada instead of America, but we’ll get that soon.

If you were a poor Scandinavian and decided to emigrate, Good luck. You could only emigrate by ship since it was the 19th century. Usually, the ships were highly unsanitary. You and your family had to share a bunk that was as big as an IKEA bed. You can’t even stand properly.

There was barely any food or clean water. Given these conditions, Disease was highly common. Diseases like Cholera, Typhoid fever, and Measles killed many emigrants on board. Because the ships were very bad, storms could also kill people (I sound like a 5-year-old). Luckly, this is only for just a few months. Just pray you’ll survive.

Most Scandinavians settled in the Midwest. What’s actually unique is the settling patterns. Most Swedes and Norwegians settled in Minnesota and North Dakota, while Danes liked Iowa and Illinois. Finns usually went for Michigan and Wisconsin. Icelanders, who were very quirky, chose Canada.

Image credit: HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL SOCIETY OF CLAY COUNTY

Not all Scandinavians liked their Midwestern states. Some lived in the major states like California, New York, and Texas (yeehaw)

To this day, there are over 13 million Scandinavian Americans. There are many Scandinavian-American foundations and historical societies. There are festivals like the Norsk Høstfest in North Dakota and the Svensk Hyllingfest in Kansas. There are also museums in what used to be settlements.

So yeah. I will watch The Great Norway Adventure while eating Lefse, waiting for my Sons of Norway merch, and scream Uff Da. Bye guys

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