RASMUS B. ANDERSON


From History of Dane County, Wisconsin, publ. by Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1880, page 529-532 From History of Dane County, Wisconsin, publ. by Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1880, page 948-949

RASMUS B. ANDERSON, A.M., Professor of Scandinavian Languages and Literature in the University of Wisconsin; he is the first native-born citizen of Wisconsin honored with a full professorship in the institution; he was born Jan. 12, 1846, in Albion, Dane Co., Wis.; his parents came to America from Norway in 1835; his father was Bjorn ANDERSON, the noted pioneer leader; his mother, a daughter of Col. VON KROGH, of the army of Sweden and Norway; his father was the leader of the first large company of emigrants that came from Norway to the United States; he settled in Wisconsin in September 1841. He early evinced energy and love of learning, got through the home common school at 12, and sought further instruction of the Lutheran parish priest, who endeavored to secure his talents for the church; at 14, he began to shape his own carrier; was three years at Decorah College, Iowa, and except during that time, directed his own studies, while supporting himself; in June 1866, he became Professor of Greek and Modern Languages at Albion Academy, in his native county; this position he held nearly three years, drawing into the institution a large number of Scandinavian pupils; he spent one season as student in the post-graduate course in the University of Wisconsin; he was appointed instructor in languages in that institution in the summer of 1869, which position he held till 1875, when the chair of Scandinavian Languages and Literature was created for him, which position he continues to fill with credit and ability. His purpose, which is now bearing fruit, has been to draw the sons and daughters of Scandinavians of the Northwest into the American common schools and universities. The Scandinavian priests establish parochial schools and church colleges, and would keep their people in isolated communities. Prof. ANDERSON's controversies with them have concerned this tendency. His motto is, "Whosoever directly or indirectly opposes the American common school is an enemy of education, liberty and progress; opposition to the common school is treason to our country." He has brought to the university an average yearly attendance of twenty-five Scandinavian students, and the number is constantly increasing. He was married in July 1868 to Miss B. Carina OLSON of Cambridge, Wis.; she is a native of Norway; they have three children - Carletta C., George K. and Hjalmar Odin. Their residence is on Washington avenue. Since 1877, he has been Librarian of the university. Through his agency was obtained the ":John A. JOHNSON fund," for the aid of indigent Scandinavian students, and "Miner's" library of over one thousand choice Scandinavian works. Ole BULL, the world-renowned violinist, rendered him much assistance in founding his library; he also gained valuable contributions when in Norway with the distinguished violinists in 1872 and 1873. He is one of the State Board of Visitors to the Platteville Normal Schools. His first contributions for the press were made in 1865, at the age of 19. He has accumulated a large, unique private Scandinavian library. He reads English, Anglo-Saxon, all the Scandinavian tongues, modern and old German, French, Greek and Latin. He has lectured extensively in the Northwest, both in English and Norwegian, and, in 1877-78, gave by invitation, four lectures on "Norse Mythology," the "Niblung Story,", etc., before the Baltimore Peabody Institute, to crowded and enthusiastic houses; in 1875, he was elected honorary member of the Icelandic Literary Society; in 1877, and again in 1879, he was appointed delegate to the "Congres International des Americanistes," and in 1880, was made member of a Danish society for the promulgation of old Norse literature. Because of his translations, works and lectures, Prof. ANDERSON has been called the father of Norse literature in America. As a contributor to the periodical press, and as an author of books for general reading, no other citizen of Wisconsin has gained so extended a reputation; his publications, both in the English language and the Norwegian, show him to be one of the ablest and most prolific writers of the country. His works are of cosmopolitan reputation. Biographies of the Professor have been published both in Europe and America. An interesting enumeration of his literary labors appears in the chapter on Authors in the volume. Prof. ANDERSON has received appreciative reviews of books from many of the ablest critics both in our own and foreign lands. The idea of erecting a monument to Leif Erickson, claimed to be the discoverer of America, was first suggested by Prof. ANDERSON; by the cooperation of influential Scandinavian friends, especially in Boston, a sum sufficient has been raised, and the monument will soon adorn Post Office Square in Boston. As a teacher of Scandinavian languages, Prof. ANDERSON is painstaking, thorough and very enthusiastic; he is popular with the students under his instruction, and has a happy faculty of filling their minds with the zeal so characteristic of himself as an educator and writer. Although circumstances and devotion to his work have led Prof. ANDERSON into sundry sharp public controversies, he is in his private intercourse a thoroughly genial man, loyal in all the relations of life. Socially, he is affable and unpretentious, yet a tireless worker. Although still a young man, he has accomplished enough to satisfy many for a long life. His career has been marked by a steady growth of power.


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