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What's Telelaget?

Telelaget is an organization of descendants of immigrants from Telemark Fylke (County) in Norway and their family and friends.  It was founded in 1907 by Telemark-Norwegian-American pioneers so that they could stay connected with each other and the homeland they left behind.  Yearly reunions (stevner) brought together tens of thousands of people with Telemark roots to share their unique Norwegian dialect and the customs and family ties that connected them to their homeland. Over the generations, the group's focus has remained on celebrating its members Telemark Norwegian heritage, but it now places greater emphasis on genealogical research, educating its members about their heritage and history,  and preserving the stories of Telemark's pioneers. Telelaget is a non-profit organization made up of about 500 individuals and families in the United States, Canada, and Norway.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries Norway's people felt a stronger tie to their local culture than to a Norwegian national identity. In fact, people from different parts of Norway sometimes had a difficult time understanding each other because there was no single way to speak Norwegian.  These strong local ties were the impetus for the bygdelag (community organization) movement within Norwegian-American communities.  Today, almost 30 of these organizations still exist, providing a vital link between their members and the areas of Norway from which their ancestors came.
Telelaget publishes an historical journal, the Telesoga, twice a year that focuses on preserving the stories of generations of Telemarkings  on both sides of the Atlantic. Its newsletter, Telenews, keeps members up-to-date on current activities and projects. 
Each summer, Telelaget is one of 7 bygdelag that come together to coordinate the 7-Lag Stevne, a 3-4 day get-together held at venues in the upper Midwest. Part convention, part reunion, the event offers access to each of the lag's genealogical holdings; classes on Norwegian genealogical research and the history of Norwegian pioneers; and demonstrations of Norwegian folk arts like hardanger embroidery and lefse making.  Vendors offer a broad array of Scandinavian wares for browsing and buying. Entertainment reflects Norwegian and Norwegian-American culture, and is usually headlined by performers from Norway. Tours of local landmarks pay special attention to their connection to Norwegian-American settlements. It's a great summer get-together where you can forge new friendships, learn more about your Norwegian heritage, and probably find a few new cousins you didn't know you had!  At other times, Telelag sponsors its own one day gatherings for research or a special event.
4-5 years Telelaget organizes a unique opportunity for its members to return to Norway and take a step beyond typical tourist fare to visit the farms, communities, and churches their immigrant ancestors left behind. 
If you are interested in learning more about the history and heritage of Telemark, Telelaget is the organization for you.  Membership is just $1
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This page was last updated Saturday December 31, 2016 22:28:36 -0600