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People on the Move

People on the Move is the name of our permanent exhibition. It was officially opened on July 4th 2000, in commemoration of the 175th Anniversary of Norwegian emigration to America. The exhibition gives a rough overview of the emigration from Norway, but since emigration was an experience shared by many countries, it also has a European perspective.

Sponsored by Rogaland County Council, City of Stavanger and Esso. Courtesy of Norsk Folkemuseum, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, Washington, Dreyer Forlag and Jacob G. Johannessen.


More than 50 Million People on the Move
The Great Migration is usually defined as the period between Antiquity and the Middle Ages. It makes more sense, though, to use this term to describe the hundred years between 1825 and 1925. Never in human history have so many people moved or been moved over such long distances. It was an unparalleled migration in size and probably also in significance.

From 1820 to 1925 close to 50 million people emigrated from Europe to other continents, mainly to distant overseas countries. Most of them had the United States as their first choice. Being the great magnet, the United States attracted no less than 34 million Europeans. More than 5, 9 million were Germans, 4,5 million came from Ireland. The Scandinavian countries counted more than 2,1 million. 860,000 of them came from Norway. The majority of emigrants left Europe in the course of the seventy years from about 1846 to World War I.

Europeans Populated the World
Not all Europeans emigrated to America. Some took the long journey to Canada, or more exotic destinations like South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Others settled in Asian Russia. In 1900 close to 33 percent of the world population of 1,5 billion people were Europeans.

The Sloopers
The first Norwegian emigration to America was not economically motivated. The people leaving Stavanger on the sloop "Restauration" on July 4, 1825, were mostly farmers from the district of Rogaland with strong ties to the Quaker and Hauge movement. Both of were in opposition to the authorities, and disliked the powerful position of the Norwegian Lutheran State Church. They sought religious freedom and the right of lay people to preach the Word of God.

Cleng Peerson
In 1821 the Stavanger Quakers had sent Cleng Peerson from Tysvær and Knud Olsen Eide to America to investigate conditions over there. Cleng Peerson returned to Norway alone in the summer of 1824 and reported favorably on his findings. He went back to prepare for the arrival of the Norwegian dissenters, and welcomed them as they arrived New York harbor on October 9, 1825.

In 1925 the descendants of the Sloopers, as these pioneers were called, formed the Norwegian Slooper Society of America.


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