January 16 is a day of celebration for Sons of Norway members. It’s the day we commemorate the 18 Norwegian immigrants who established our organization to assist members and their families when they experienced financial hardships. Today Sons of Norway is the largest Norwegian cultural organization outside of Norway. Here are 10 more facts about our founders and Sons of Norway.

  1. Sons of Norway founders lived in the Norwegian colony that had formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the 1870s.
  2. The first name selected for the organization was Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. After announcing the name of their new lodge, the founders immediately discovered that their American neighbors found the name too difficult to pronounce. The committee then settled on “Sønner af Norge,” which eventually transitioned to Sons of Norway.
  3. Eleven of the original 18 members were elected to serve as officers.
  4. After establishing Sønner af Norge as the lodge’s name, the committee passed two resolutions: 1. That all meetings must be carried on in the Norwegian language. 2. That all non-members were to be excluded from all future meetings.
    Heimskringla Lodge 1-012 – Fergus Falls, MN
  5. By the end of 1900, there were 12 lodges in Minnesota.
  6. The founders of Sons of Norway were convinced that a spiritual kinship and religious bond existed between Norway and America.
  7. Between 1905-1914, Sons of Norway grew to become a nationwide fraternal organization. Lodges were established across the continent, from New York to the Pacific Northwest.
    Warden Lodge – New London, CT – Apr. 18, 1925
  8.  At Sons of Norway’s 50th Anniversary International Convention, five surviving founders were present: Bersvend O. Draxten, Peder Larsen, Eskild Pedersen, Ludvig Pedersen, and John O. Stokke.
  9. During the 1997 flooding in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the Sons of Norway Foundation created the Humanitarian Fund to help those affected.
  10. The emblem or logo has changed many times over the course of Sons of Norway’s history. However, symbols including midnight sun, North Star, rolling sea and the Viking ship have recurred throughout.

Original Sønner af Norge logo, and today’s Sons of Norway logo 

Founders’ Day is the perfect time to demonstrate your pride in being a part of Sons of Norway. Wear your membership pins and invite your friends to your next lodge meeting, share with them how being part of this organization can enrich their lives, and invite them to join Sons of Norway.