About Us

This project was first proposed by Bill Musser, a Norwegian American musician and librarian based in Decorah, Iowa, and then taken up by folklorist Jim Leary, a professor of folklore and Scandinavian studies affiliated with the Center for the Study of  Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin.  With institutional support from the Mills Music Library, the home for significant collections of Norwegian American folk music, Leary and the Mills staff, led by director Jeanette Casey, enlisted the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum as a partner and won grant funds from the Preservation and Access program of the Folk Arts division of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The project’s fundamental purpose has been to identify significant collections, performers, and organizations involved with the sustenance of Norwegian American Folk Music, past and present, and to make them more accessible to researchers, performers, students, and the general public through a single web portal.

At the same time, we have often had to devote considerable energies to acquiring “orphan”collections, preparing detailed inventories of largely unprocessed collections, and converting rare and fragile sound recordings and images to digital formats. That work was largely undertaken by Anna Rue, a graduate student in the folklore track of Scandinavian Studies, in consultation with folklorist Janet Gilmore and archivist Karen Baumann who, under the auspices of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, have been working steadily to virtually organize Public Folk Arts and Folklife Projects in the Upper Midwest.  In addition, Carrie Roy, like Rue a graduate student in the folklore track of Scandinavian Studies, designed and constructed this portal in consultation with Sara Ziemendorf of Learning Support Services at the University of Wisconsin.

The work that resulted in the creation of this portal and related collections development is ongoing and will be for years to come.  Hence although our portal features numerous key collections, artists, and organizations, we realize all too well that additions can  and should be made to each of these categories, and we welcome comments and inquiries that might add to and improve this portal and our larger understanding of Norwegian American Folk Music.

Jim Leary Anna Rue Carrie Roy
project director project researcher project webmaster