The mission of Sons of Norway is to promote and to preserve the heritage and culture of Norway, to celebrate our relationship with other Nordic Countries, and provide quality insurance and financial products to our members.
Sons of Norway was organized as a fraternal benefit society by 18 Norwegian immigrants in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on January 16, 1895. The purposes and goals of the Founding Fathers were to protect members of Sons of Norway and their families from the financial hardships experienced during times of sickness or death in the family. Over time, the mission of Sons of Norway was expanded to include the preservation of Norwegian heritage and culture in our Society. We have grown since our beginning and are now the largest Norwegian organization outside Norway.
We promote Norwegian traditions and fraternal fellowship through the cultural and social opportunities offered in local lodge and district lodge activities. These activities include language camps and classes, scholarships, handicrafts, cooking and heritage classes, heritage programs, sports programs, travel opportunities, Viking Magazine, and outreach programs sponsored by the Sons of Norway Foundation.
We offer financial protection through our Financial Benefits Counselors to Sons of Norway members and their families against the hardships of sickness and death through a variety of quality insurance programs.
Founders Day January 16th
A Brief History of Sons of Norway
By Hildegarde M. Strom
Professor C. Sverre Norborg begins his fine history of Sons of Norway, An American Saga, with this descriptive paragraph: "The founders of Sons of Norway were Americans. They had crossed the wide Atlantic in search of greater opportunities for themselves and their families. From the day they passed through the immigration gates at Ellis Island, they knew that their lives and fortunes were linked forever with this vast and free land." This is the strong thread which runs through much of the Sons of Norway story: a love for the land of their birth but at the same time a fierce loyalty to their new land.
The history of Sons of Norway could be described as one of steady and deliberate progress. By the 1870s, Minneapolis had a very active nucleus of Norwegian emigrants, many of whom had come from the Trondheim area to form a colony in the northern part of the city. From that group came the 18 founders who signed on as charter members of Sons of Norway.
"Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson" was the name first selected for the new organization but it was soon rejected on the realistic grounds that the American people would find it quite impossible to pronounce. "Sønner av Norge" was the name settled upon and the formal inception with the 18 founders was completed on
16 January 1895.
The fledgling organization provided not only security against financial crises and a forum to celebrate their new nationalism, but it also served to preserve the many things Norwegian which were treasured by those who had left Norway: the literature, music and art which formed such a large part of their heritage.
Today, Sons of Norway continues to make a conscious effort to build on the traditions of the past while at the same time focusing on the contemporary Norwegian-American lifestyles, thereby taking on a more modern look. There must be programs vital enough to appeal to the 4th and 5th generation descendants who show interest in their roots. Those original 18 members of "Sønner av Norge" would doubtless be surprised to see where their idea has gone since those first days in January, 1895, but one must feel confident that they would be proud to share in this modern philosophy of the fraternal organization they formed.