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Norwegians in Africa

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    Scandinavians in Africa: A Recommended Reading List

    Scandinavian Emigration to Africa

    Emigration is a topic that has always fascinated me, perhaps because I, myself, am an emigrant. When I came across people in my family tree that had emigrated to Africa, my curiosity bubbled over, and I had to find out more about this fascinating piece of history. This blog post in an attempt to peak your curiosity on this topic, and at the same time, provide you with some resources I have found very helpful. Read on, cousin!


    Scandinavian Emigration to Africa

    When thinking about Scandinavian emigration throughout history, the mind immediately jumps to the emigration the United States, and states like Minnesota and Illinois, so it’s easy to forget that emigrants also traveled elsewhere in the world, but guess what? They did. Africa was no exception. In fact, my own family tree includes relatives in Africa (a branch of the Trägårdh family from Copenhagen, Denmark).

    The Scandinavian countries have had a long and complex relationship with the continent of Africa. As an example, Sweden had colonies in modern-day Ghana in the mid-1600s, and many Norwegians arrived in South Africa in the 1700s and 1800s. Some of the major reasons for the emigration were the fishing, timber, and whaling industries, but there was also the desire to establish Christian missionaries overseas. Land was cheap and easily obtainable, and the southern tip of Africa was also an ideal location for headquartering shipping companies, such as the respective Swedish and Norwegian East India Trade Companies, which were both already trading with the established Dutch population.


    Scandinavian Emigration to Africa

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    Big Impact, Small Trails

    There is no doubt that Scandinavian immigration had a big impact on (especially the southern parts of) Africa, but unfortunately this migration route is far less documented than other ones. Nonetheless, there are some resources that offer a wealth of information on the topic, so in this post, we’re taking a look at some fun resources for researching Scandinavians in Africa. After a little digging, perhaps you too will find an ancestor who emigrated to this vast continent!

    Want to research Scandinavians in Africa? Start with these great resources:

    Available Online:

    • Afrikafararna by Christer Blomstrand, Sveriges Släktforskarförbund.


    Available in Print:

    • Afrikafararna by Christer Blomstrand, Sveriges Släktforskarförbund (2008). ISBN 9789197577595.
    • An African Alternative: Nordic Migration to South Africa, 1815 – 1914 by Eero Kuparinen, Finnish Historical Society (1991). ISBN 9789518915457.
    • Norwegian Missionaries in Natal and Zululand selected correspondence, 1844-1900 by Dr. Frederick Hale, Van Riebeeck Society (1997). ISBN 0958411239. Extended preview available online.
    • Norsk Nybyggerliv I Natal : Festskrift i Anledning De Norske Settleres 50-aarsjubilæum I Marsburg.29.august 1882-29.august 1932 by Andrew Halland, Comp. Anna Halland and Ingeborg Kjønstad, South Coast Herald (1932).
    • Mission Station Christianity: Norwegian Missionaries in Colonial Natal and Zululand, Southern Africa 1850-1890 by Ingie Hovland, Brill (2013). Preview available online.
    • Norsk Utvandring Til Sør-Afrika by Per Ole Reite, Spor Forlag (2008). ISBN 9788291139432.
    • Släkten Trägårdh Från Köpenhamn by Kurt G.Trägårdh, Stockholm (1986).
    • Norrmän Som Utvandrat Til Kapprovinsen by Kurt G.Trägårdh, Norsk Slektshistorisk Tidsskrift 22 (1969), pages 145-48.
    • Hur jag fann den äldsta grenen av min släkt i Sydafrika by Kurt G.Trägårdh, Släkt och Hävd 1 (1983).
    • Scandinavians and South Africa: their impact on the cultural, social and economic development of pre-1902 South Africa by Alan H. Winquist, A.A. Balkema (1978). 


    [Please note that bibliography and citation formatting has given way to readability in this list. Resources are listed in random order.]

    Know of any other great resources? I’d love to hear about them! Comment below!