Lis Jorgensen


emigration, Scandinavia, North America, overpopulation, famine


Contemporary emigration is both like and unlike the earlier emigration of Scandinavia.

The emigrants came to North America in the nineteenth century largely because of overpopulation in their own countries creating famine or purely for economic reasons. In North America they could obtain free or cheap land and thus make a better living for their families. According to early accounts, however, they often suffered even greater hardships here than at home. One question that seemed to bother the Danish settlers was whether they had done the right thing in leaving the old country. They wondered if in their struggle for life's meager necessities they would make life easier and better for their children and the subsequent generations.