Norway Doorway, pt 3: Trysil and Bergen

Randall Stephens

A couple of weeks ago I gave a series of lectures in Trysil, Norway, on American history, regional culture, and religion in the South. It was a wonderful visit, though, I think I never figured out just how to say "Trysil" like a native. (Spoken, it sounds like "Trusal" to me.)

My hosts were wonderfully gracious. Lively conversationalists and the sort of people you meet briefly and miss quite a bit when you're back on the road.

The school at which I spoke had a culinary, vocational program. Meaning: fantastic multi-course lunches that featured a salmon casserole and then moose burgers. Quite a few of the students here were part of a sports program. And, from what I understand, some of those were on the professional track, with sponsorships and bright futures.
Xtreme energy drink ski suits with aggro fonts and nuclearized color schemes.

One of the sessions I gave in this lovely ski resort town was for teachers. I focused on the range of teaching materials and resources out on the world-web, inter-tubes:

"Teaching American History and Culture with Online Newspapers and Images."

The Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division ( and the newly created Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers ( hold a treasure trove of historical and cultural artifacts. In this seminar we will explore using the free newspaper archive and the vast resources of images at the Library of Congress to reconstruct the past. Students could be encouraged to take a news item from 1860-1922—a political campaign, scandal, natural disaster, technological innovation, etc.—and then investigate that by using both newspapers and visual materials (prints, cartoons, photographs.) Students might be asked to outline what we learn about a particular period in history by examining the item being reported. Students might also explore the biases and perspectives of cartoonists and reporters. Questions like the following might prod the conversation: Why would a reporter or editor in the North take a different view of black voting rights than one in the South would? How did the political battles of the late 1800s differ from region to region? How are the views of contemporary Americans or Norwegians different today from those being studied here? Students should come away from the project with an understanding of the context of late 19th and early 20th century history, a greater appreciation of change over time, and insight into how news and other media shape our view of the past.

As part of that talk I gave a handout to the teachers that included the sources we discussed. Here's that list, with some brief descriptions



Google Books


Bedford/St. Martin’s Map Central


Artcyclopedia (paintings, prints, lists of movements and countries)

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs On-line (cartoons, photographs, paintings)

Picturing America (historical American paintings)


Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (images, manuscripts, maps)


Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (lesson plans, guides, documents, and more)

Smithsonian: Teaching American History

Teaching History: National Education Clearinghouse


Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

University of Pennsylvania Libraries: Historical Newspapers Online


American Memory from the Library of Congress (music, movies, documents, photos, newspapers)

Archive (documents, movies, photos, music)

Bedford/St. Martin’s Make History Site (documents, photos, maps, and more)

Today I arrived in Bergen for three days of sessions with students and teachers at the Bergen Cathedral School, founded, according to legend, all the way back in 1153 by Nicholas Breakspear, who would go on to become pope Adrian IV. Breakspear . . . no relation to Burning Spear, right? (Check out where I am and where I'll be on the Google Map.) These are bright, bright kids. They will no doubt keep me on my toes!

When I'm not doing the shutterbug thing around town and on the wharfs, I'll be speaking about the following: “The Praying South: Why Is the American South the Most Religious Region of the Country?” and “What do American English & Regional Accents Tell Us about America?”

Next Week it's on to Øya videregående skole 7228 Kvål. Say that five times quickly.