Dakota Datebook

Too Much Sunshine

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Back in 1909, Dr. S. Carlsen of Spring Grove, MN, wrote a paper titled, The Climate’s Influence on Emigrants From Northern Europe and Especially Norwegians in America. Dr. Carlsen felt that Norwegians were settling so far north in America – even into Canada – because those who settled as far south as southern Minnesota were “degenerating.” As proof of this, he pointed out the large number of Norsemen in the insane asylums at that time.

Carlsen felt that this degeneration was caused by our climate. To back up his theory, he quoted an Irish physician’s statements that northern Europeans couldn’t tolerate the climate in America, because there was too much sunshine. As further evidence, Carlsen argued that Norwegian second and third generations weren’t as strong or as healthy as their pioneer parents as evidenced by their weak physique and poor teeth. It was just too much sun.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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