About the State Historical Society > News > 2009

State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release April 30, 2009

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

Book group explores Iowa’s Norwegian immigrant history

Scandinavian re-enactor Arlen Twedt discusses Johannes Wist’s “The Rise of Jonas Olsen”

(DES MOINES) – Author and Scandinavian re-enactor Arlen Twedt will explore Iowa’s Norwegian immigrant history during the State Historical Library’s “Book Discovery Discussions” next month.

Twedt will share tales and histories of Norwegian-Iowans as part of a discussion about Johannes B. Wist’s “The Rise of Jonas Olsen: A Norwegian Immigrant’s Saga” at 11:45 a.m., Wednesday, May 20, 2009, at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Participants may bring a brown-bag lunch or purchase food from the Historical Building’s Café Baratta’s. Contact State Historical Librarian Susan Jellinger at susan.jellinger@iowa.gov or 515-281-5111 for more information.

Twedt has published articles and continues to research and write about Scandinavians in the Story County area. He has created numerous historical presentations depicting Norwegian immigrant experiences in Central Iowa.

In addition, he founded the Central Iowa Norwegian Project, which promotes the preservation of oral and written histories to increase awareness and understanding of Norwegian heritage. In the mid-1990s, he began a long-term research and writing project to publish a history of central Iowa Norwegians, 1855-1905.

“The Rise of Jonas Olsen” illustrates an immigrant’s struggle to preserve his identity and heritage while striving to become fully accepted as an American. The book was originally published serially in the Norwegian language newspaper, Decorah Posten, in the 1920s.

Following is the final meeting of the 2008-2009 “Book Discovery Discussions” book group:

June 17, 2009 – 11:45 a.m.
“Chautauqua Summer” by Julie McDonald
This novel takes the reader along with young Lem, a 17-year-old musician plucked from Harlan to travel the Chautauqua circuit with the Royal Serenaders. It is a coming-of-age story heavily sprinkled with historical tidbits of people and places from the early part of the 20th century.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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