Pictures of Longing: Photography and the Norwegian-American Migration

(5 customer reviews)


Between 1836 and 1915, in what has been called history’s largest population migration, more than 750,000 Norwegians emigrated to North America. Writing home, the newcomers sent thousands of pictures—America–photographs, as they are called in Norway. In these photographs, the emigrant experience unfolds as framed by thousands of Norwegian transplants in towns, cities, and rural communities across America.

Pictures of Longing brings more than 250 America–photographs into focus as a moving account of Norwegian migration in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, conceived of and crafted by its photographer-authors to shape and reshape their story. To clarify the historic nature and the cultural function of the America-photographs, art historian and photography scholar Sigrid Lien located thousands of the photographs in public and private archives and museums in Norway and the United States. Reading these photographs alongside letters sent home by Norwegian immigrants, Lien provides the first comprehensive account of this collective photographic practice involving “the voice of the many.”

Pictures of Longing shows, in fascinating detail, how the photographs, like the accompanying letters, contribute to the cultural grassroots expression of Norwegian migration. They steer us toward multiple, fragmented, and dispersed histories and also complement the existing fabric of established historical narratives, demonstrating photography’s potential to engage with history.

SKU: 1517901995 Categories: , , ,

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#1,221,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #1,214 in U.S. Immigrant History #2,026 in Emigration & Immigration Studies (Books) #2,981 in Photography History

Customer Reviews

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5 reviews for Pictures of Longing: Photography and the Norwegian-American Migration

  1. karla l.

    Very few pictures!Just not what I expected based on the title. I was looking forward to great pictures but it;’s all text and not interesting to me even though I’m very interested in these stories!Admire the fact that the author put so much work into it. Hate to give it a bad review!

  2. Hanne

    Utterly captivating, insightful and engaging. A wonderful read!Just love it when an academic publication comes across as both highly readable and incredibly beautiful. I really respect how the author tells the story of everyday, ordinary people in a thoughtful and interesting way. An added bonus was the selection of photographs, so many of them completely new to me. Not your run-of-the mill selection at all. A truly original work!

  3. librarian


  4. GK Jordan

    Excellent, readable work on the Norwegian immigrant experienceThe photos are wonderful, and the text helps brings them to life. Great background for someone whose family was part of this Norwegian immigrant experience.

  5. Gord

    Interesting but fewer photos than expected.A lot of text, fewer photos than expected. People interested in Norwegian heritage/history would like it.

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