You are likely familiar with well-documented stories of Norwegian settlers coming to North America in the 19th century, like the “Sloopers.” And you’ve heard of intrepid Vikings who were the first European explorers, visiting North American shores around the year 1000. But did you know that there were Norwegians who came to stay in the New World during the colonial era? Norwegian immigrants arrived in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (later New York) early in the 17th century. By 1664, around 60 Norwegians were settled in the city with others living in New Netherland, near what is now Albany, New York.
Early Norwegian immigrants were not part of an organized movement like those who arrived in the 19th century. Instead, they came to do business with the Dutch colonists—there were important ties to shipping and the lumber trade—and stayed to join the melting pot of North American society. For example, an early mayor of Albany was Pieter Van Brugh—his maternal grandparents were Norwegian immigrants. Like all who leave their homelands for a better way of life, these new Norwegian-North Americans were eager to succeed. They’ve passed on their Nordic spirit to the generations that followed.