The proudness of "Norwegian America" reached its peak between 1895 and 1925. Large Norwegian-speaking groups, both in the cities and in the countryside, organized into a wide variety of associations and groups.
In the countryside, bygdelags, groups based on regional affiliations, were formed in 1899, while lots of voluntary associations appeared in the cities. Temperance lodges, choral groups, sports clubs, folk dance groups, religious societies, as well as political and trade unions attracted lots of Norwegians. Many of these groups included the protection of the Norwegian language, traditions and customs in their constitutions, like Sons of Norway, established in 1895.
The Norwegian patriotism reached its peak in 1925 when thousands of Norwegian - Americans gathered in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, to celebrate and commemorate the centennial of the sailing of the sloop "Restauration". Today, the 17th of May, Norway`s Constitution Day, is the most important festival and the foremost symbolic expression of Norwegian-American culture.
From 1900 to 1930 probably as many as four million European immigrants permanently returned home from America, one-fourth or more of the total immigration into the United States. For Norwegians, Swedes and Danes together the return rate from 1899 to 1924 was 15. 4 percent. The rate varied a lot: 22 percent of the Finns returned; 13.7 Germans; and only 8. 9 of the Irish. Immigrants from east and south Europe had a higher return rate: Poles, 33 percent; Italians 45.6.
The 1920 Norwegian census found nearly 50,000 former residents of the United States back home in Norway. Three-fourths of them had lived from two to nine years in the U.S. The vast majority returned to the rural areas from where they had originally emigrated. A total of 155,000 Norwegians came back between 1891 and 1940.
Reasons for going home
The reasons for going back were many: Most of the Norwegians who went home had achieved their goals in the U.S, and put their savings into farming - buying new machines, land, some even investing in local businesses.
Some complained that Norwegian farming was fifty years behind, and tried to move agriculture ahead. Some returned emigrants came home with a broken health.Hard work and long days in the U.S. had a high price. Many Italians returned suffering from tuberculosis. Others lost fingers, arms, legs, eyes, etc., in industrial accidents.
A common reason for return was homesickness. Others went home because they rejected the United States, particularly those returning in the years following the First World War, when native-born Americans scorned anyone who was not at least 100 percent American.
For further reading:
In the Cities
Returnees and Newcomers