The Stavig Letters Collection
The Stavig Letters, written in Norwegian and translated into English, are an extensive collection of letters between two brothers, Lars Stavig, who immigrated to America and his brother, Knut, who stayed in Norway. Consisting of more than 150 letters spanning more than five decades, the Stavig Letters give voice and reality to the immigrant experience from the perspectives of both countries.
The letters document the period between 1880 and 1938. Lars' letters from Dakota Territory offer a first-person perspective of the arrival of the railroads on the prairie, changes in agriculture, the advent of aviation, World War I and the Great Depression. Knut's letters from Norway tell not only of personal struggles, but also of the state of the Norwegian economy, the dangers of traditional fishing practices of the period and changes in Norwegian culture. Woven through the letters are the dreams and aspirations, the joys and griefs of two brothers, one who came to the prairie and one who stayed by the sea.
The letters were collected by Harold Torness of Sisseton, SD, and Dorothy Stavig, of Sacramento, CA. They were translated from Norwegian into English by Marta Boyce of Minneapolis, MN. Copies of the letters in Norwegian and English are archived at the Center for Western Studies on the campus of Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. Copies are also available at the Stavig House Museum in Sisseton.
Readers Theater production
"The Stavig Letters: The Story of a Norwegian Immigrant" is a dramatic performance by Dr. Wayne S. Knutson. The cast of three includes a narrator and the two brothers, Lars Stavig, who comes to the prairie, and Knut Stavig, who remains in Norway. Using direct excerpts from the Stavig letters and basic theater props, the play lasts approximately 70 minutes and can be performed anywhere. Over 70 performances have been given throughout the midwest over the past 20 years. "The Stavig Letters" is a program of the South Dakota Humanities Speakers Bureau
The cast of "The Stavig Letters: The Story of a Norwegian Immigrant" includes Rev. Gary Westgard as Lars Stavig, Jane Torness Rasmussen as the narrator, and John Rasmussen as Knut Stavig. Jane is the great granddaughter of the immigrant Lars Stavig.Contact us
about scheduling a performance of The Stavig Letters in your community.