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The Heart of the Heartland

The Heart of the Heartland

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Norwegian American Community in the Twin Cities

David C. Mauk

Minnesota Historical Society Press (October 20, 2022)
co-published with the Norwegian American Historical Association


An in-depth look at the Norwegian American community of Minneapolis–St. Paul and its deep and complex role in the economic, political, and cultural life of the Twin Cities over more than 170 years.

Since the earliest days of European settlement in the region, tens of thousands of Norwegians have found their way to Minnesota. Many early arrivals settled in the cities, while others who initially chose the countryside departed for urban settings after they had become accustomed to the ways of their adopted home. The growing Twin Cities became home to Norwegian immigrants and their migrating compatriots alike.

These Norwegian Americans took up employment in a range of fields. They also assembled in churches and charitable organizations, carrying on homeland traditions even as they took on prominent roles in the larger urban community. Minnesotans of Norwegian descent in the twenty-first century may not speak their ancestral tongue, but they lovingly uphold many cultural practices of their ancestral home.

The Heart of the Heartland brings together personal interviews, demographic research, and archival exploration to inform stories of assimilation, ascendency, and collaboration among Minnesota’s Norwegian Americans and their neighbors over 170 years. 

This book is a copublication with the Norwegian American Historical Association.

Advance Praise

"No one knows Norwegian American history better than David Mauk. His unmatched knowledge and insight illuminate a great American story. As a great-grandson of a Norwegian immigrant—now in California exile—I loved this book. It begins with a Norwegian American joke and ends with revealing analysis of the Twin Cities Norwegian American community today. Deeply anchored in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Mauk's analysis radiates out to Norwegians in other places and illuminates other immigrant peoples as well."
Paul Spickard, distinguished professor of history, University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity

"Mauk adeptly provides a sense of place through meticulous research into the Norwegian American communities that grew alongside their Twin Cities surroundings, while his inclusion of rich oral histories brings depth to the book’s balanced perspective on both rural and urban spaces of the Upper Midwest."
Erika K. Jackson, professor of history, Colorado Mesa University, and author of Scandinavians in Chicago: The Origins of White Privilege in Modern America

"David Mauk's history of the Norwegian Americans in the Twin Cities provides the reader with the long view, from the early beginnings in the late 1840s to the bustling, metropolitan present. Focusing on place, types of migration, community development, and intergroup relations, this beautifully illustrated book has been written with enthusiasm and affection by a true authority in the field."
Jørn Brøndal, professor and chair, Center for American Studies, University of Southern Denmark

"Mauk's analysis demonstrates how changing economics, technology, and interaction with other groups forged the fascinating evolution of the Twin Cities' Norwegian American community. A most insightful history of the capital of the Norwegians in America."
Daron W. Olson, associate professor of history, Indiana University East, and author of Vikings across the Atlantic: Emigration and the Building of a Greater Norway, 1860–1945

"Based on extraordinarily varied research, this is an excellent account of the Norwegian community in Minneapolis–St. Paul. By taking the story from the immigrants to their transformation as an ethnic community, and by taking a long view of Norwegians in this midwestern region, David Mauk reminds us that history is the study of change."
David Reimers, professor of history emeritus, New York University, author of Unwelcome Strangers: American Identity and the Turn Against Immigration

"This comprehensive overview deploys oral histories to tell the story of an immigrant community that shaped—and was shaped by—Minneapolis and St. Paul."
Michael J. Lansing, professor of history, Augsburg University, and author of Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics

Author Information

David C. Mauk is the author of The Colony that Rose from the Sea: Norwegian Maritime Migration and Community in Brooklyn, 1850-1910 and numerous articles about Norwegian American ethnicity. Now retired, he taught American studies at the University of Oslo. 

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 456 pages
  • 35-40 black and white illustrations
  • 7 maps
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681342368

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