The Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey was published in 1942 by the Chicago Public Library Omnibus Project of the Works Progress Administration of Illinois. The purpose of the project was to translate and classify selected news articles that appeared in the foreign language press from 1855 to 1938. The project consists of 120,000 typewritten pages translated from newspapers of 22 different foreign language communities of Chicago.

Read more about this historic project.

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  • Skandinaven -- August 25, 1897
    A Plea for Norwegian

    Editor of Skandinaven.

    Dear Sir:

    Being raised and educated in a large city of the United States, I had, in common with most young people in like circumstances, a sort of pitying contempt for everything not American--the Norwegian language included. I am afraid some of our public school teachers had something to do with bringing about that state of mind.

    The first one to open my eyes to the truth, was the late Dr. Poole, librarian of the Chicago Public Library. In the course of a conversation, he asked me the meaning of our family name, which ended in "vig". I was fortunate enough to be able to explain it to him. He then asked me if I read and spoke the 2Norwegian language. "Not well," I answered.

    "Why not?"

    "Oh, I had never been made to learn it." (The truth must be told, however, I'm not proud of it.)

    "There is no honor in doing anything one is made to do," he said, and advised me to learn it as soon as possible. From that he went on to say that he had notice that the Norwegians learned English quicker than other nationalities, his observations being taken, in large part, from servant girls at his home.

    Later on I had the good fortune to visit Norway. How great that advantage was: I have been better able to appreciate it later. I found a much higher standard of culture there among the people of my circle than in America (this refers to Chicago and the West). Then and there I became acquainted with the literature 3of Norway and found in it a charm with which I fell deeply in love. I felt like the heathen who heard the story of Christ and exclaimed: "Oh! why has someone not told us this before!"

    Why not start reading clubs everywhere to study the Norwegian language, its saga, its politics, its wealth of beautiful literature; in short, Norway and its people. It is a country one need not be ashamed of, but ought to feel intensely proud of. I think such clubs would do more to foster that quality which so many say we are lacking--loyalty to our own people.

    Organize, buy a good map of Norway; subscribe to a good newspaper direct from Norway; learn to sing the songs, recite the poetry, read fine literature; study the biography and history; interest yourselves in the topics of the times on a large or small as circumstances dictate.

    Don't let the Norwegian die; at least don't hasten its death. The English is better able to take care of itself.

    Editor of Skandinaven. Dear Sir: Being raised and educated in a large city of the United States, I had, in common with most young people in like circumstances, a sort ...

    Norwegian
    III A, III H
  • Skandinaven -- October 18, 1897
    Strong for English (Letter)

    Editor of Skandinaven.

    Dear Sir: No one with common sense can doubt that the Scandinavian youth will sooner or later adopt the English language. On the playgrounds of every town or city, wherever young Scandinavians associate, observers will note that in nearly all cases they converse in English and not in their mother tongue, showing beyond the possibility of a doubt that the English language, when once learned, is the one most easily spoken. Learn first to read and write the language of our nation to perfection; then it is time enough to study your mother tongue. Why? First, because many honest and intelligent foreign-born citizens have been kept away from honorable and lucrative positions simply because of their foreign brogue. Second, because the literature of neither Norway, Denmark, or Sweden attains as high a standard as does that of the United States and England. Where was there a writer among the Scandinavians like Shakespeare? Who can equal 2those thrilling pictures of Florence Percy? What author can produce the noble sentiments of Longfellow, where do we find Charles Kingsley's powers of description? All will admit that that which a person reads has something to do in shaping his destiny, and in if it be true that the English literature is the best, why should we not adopt the language which contains the fine gems of thought?

    Many a minister of the gospel throughout the length and breadth of our land will be found at the head of a parochial school attempting--not always in an ideal Christian manner--to implant the Scandinavian languages, to the confusion of the little ones, who are at the same time studying the English language in the public schools. Should any church member have the "grit" to assert that his children were to learn English first and other languages to follow, our reverend friend may be seen holding up his hands in holy-honor. Yet upon inquiry it may be found that the learned expounder of scripture is himself unable to read the English language. expounder of scripture is himself unable to read the English language. The time is not far distant when our Scandinavian youth will shake off their shackles, declare their independence and accept the English language in all the spheres 3of life, knowing that they, by so doing, adopt the only method by which they can attain as much respect from their fellow-citizens as they deserve.

    Editor of Skandinaven. Dear Sir: No one with common sense can doubt that the Scandinavian youth will sooner or later adopt the English language. On the playgrounds of every town ...

    Norwegian
    III A, I A 2 b
  • Skandinaven -- November 14, 1897
    Learn English (Letter)

    Editor of Skandinaven.

    Knowledge of the English language, it seems to me, is a prerequisite for true loyalty and patriotism. A person cannot rightly be expected to take an interest in the affairs of a country whose language he does not master. Some may say: Cannot a person imbibe that spirit through any other language just as well? To some extent, but not so well. Where in any language will you find examples of Webster, Adams, Clay, Everett, Henry, and many others? You may take their speeches and translate them, but in that act their true mission has lost its power, strength, and beauty. What other language abounds as plentifully in gems of thought as that of the English. Take the words of Shakespeare, Milton, Gray, Longfellow, Bryant, 2and Whittier, and compare them with others in their respective fields of labor.

    Many young men have I seen who are unable to read the English language intelligently and fluently, and these have been born and reared amidst the free institutions of our land. Now, these will become leaders some years hence. They will be the principal actors in life's drama in years to come. They will be the heads of the families of our land. The offices of the township, county, and state must be filled by some of them. The laws, forms of government, and social questions will be presented to them. Will these men fill their places of trust and honor and distinction without knowing English?

    Some maintain that we should not neglect our mother tongue, but use it as much as we can. To do that we must educate the children in our own language, which is foreign. We must make them familiar with our habits and customs, which are alien to our country.

    3

    Let us have English pure and simple. We cannot so easily get both, and get them well. Let us have the essential one, and have it well. I look forward to the day when thought, feelings, and nationality shall be unified, and a language spoken which shall be understood by all.

    Forget your national background, become Americans, become good citizens, in thought and action. This is your country, treat it as such.

    Editor of Skandinaven. Knowledge of the English language, it seems to me, is a prerequisite for true loyalty and patriotism. A person cannot rightly be expected to take an interest ...

    Norwegian
    I A 1 b, III A, III H
  • Skandinaven -- November 30, 1897
    Norwegian to English

    I agree with the writer of "Another Plea for English" that every American citizen, or anyone who intends to become such, should be able to master the language of the country he or she Lives in. It is only a duty of patriotism. But there is always more than one side to a question. What are we going to do with our old folks? We have them yet in our midst; they still cling to their old habits and the old mother tongue nature taught them. We are their children and as such we owe them our respect.

    I am personally acquainted with a number of Scandinavian families who use the English language in their homes entirely. Grandfather and grandmother are thereby debarred from all conversation with their grandchildren, who are their only delight in their old age. I do believe that any intelligent child, even if he has been taught the mother language, can be educated and taught the English language so as to inspire him, and enable him to read the beautiful works of our great authors and also to become a good, patriotic citizen of our great republic.

    I agree with the writer of "Another Plea for English" that every American citizen, or anyone who intends to become such, should be able to master the language of the ...

    Norwegian
    III A, I B 3 b, III H
  • Skandinaven -- December 04, 1897
    Language (Letter)

    Editon, Skandinaven

    Dear Sir:

    As it is important that we discover the relative strength of those in favor of the English language securing a place in Skandinaven, and as we now have a chance, and no one knows that the future may bring, I, therefore, call upon those who can help the cause. It may be a long time before we yet another chance such as this.

    I am fully aware of the fact that in the old settlements the need for English is not so pronounced; but we cannot all live in the old settlements. We must move along more or less. Look at the New Englanders; see how they are dispersed over this country. The same fate will overtake our people by and by.

    2

    There are those who make a fetish of the old country language, and it is more surprising that there are some leaning to both sides.

    People are apt to judge our strength by the amount of space we can hold in these columns. The question is one of making headway, "not only against tradition but against the men who are steeped in tradition".

    Editon, Skandinaven Dear Sir: As it is important that we discover the relative strength of those in favor of the English language securing a place in Skandinaven, and as we ...

    Norwegian
    III A
  • Skandinaven -- January 17, 1898
    Our Duty as Citizens

    As time ebbs away, so ebbs away the life of man. As spring takes the place of winter by His bidding and by His prearrangement, so must youth take the place of the old by the same irresistible, dominating force. The boy of yesterday is the man of today. The spectacle in the arena, where life's great battle is fought, is ever changing, ever new. The struggle of yesterday is not the struggle of the morrow. The conquests of today will differ from the conquests of days to come. The obstacles encountered by the present generation will not confront the coming one. The character of the duties of man also change.

    The Scandinavian pioneers can look with pride upon their achievements. Youth, when taking charge of these great riches, may congratulate itself for descending from people marked, wherever their abode, for their honesty, industry, and self-reliance. The pioneers have fulfilled their life's mission. They have not only shaped and formed the history of several states and cities, but they have helped to shape and form the history of the nation. Where their work ends youth's work must begin. What they failed to achieve, we should strive 2to attain. The future of the republic rests with the young, as did that of the present with those gone before us. The work ahead is important; the duties which we are summoned to discharge are weighty. The Scandinavians occupy no mean place in the council of the nation. It lies entirely with the young, if, in the near future, they shall wield a still greater power. Along this line the Scandinavian race should be made in the future; but we must fight for our just share in the management of social and political affairs as a Americans, not as Scandinavians.

    In consequence of the large immigration to this country of so many different types of people, holding so many different ideas as to the forms of government, our institutions are in danger, while personal liberty needs watching and American principles need champions. An idea of the power of this foreign element in our politics can be had by looking back upon the results of the election held recently in New York City. It was not Americanism that elected Van Wyck. Fortunately, the Scandinavians do not belong to the ignorant class 3of immigrants, but it is their duty to assist in repressing and subduing this army of ignorant and reckless voters.

    Let us, therefore, be true citizens, true American citizens. We owe it to ourselves, to the country under whose protective care we are enjoying so many immunities, and to the land from whence we came; for we cannot honor the memory of our Fatherland more, than by proving ourselves loyal subjects of the nation which has so generously received us. Much as we love the mother tongue, it must necessarily take a secondary place among us. There should not be divided opinions as to what language the young, the coming generation should learn. No, we must not falter; we must not waver. Indecision is as bad as idleness. Let us educate ourselves, not for the mere purpose of being able to cope with our contemporaries in the battle for existence and individual comfort, but for higher and nobler aims. Let our motto be honesty, integrity and loyalty, and history shall attribute to us these very virtues.

    As time ebbs away, so ebbs away the life of man. As spring takes the place of winter by His bidding and by His prearrangement, so must youth take the ...

    Norwegian
    III A, III H, III G, I C
  • Skandinaven -- July 09, 1899
    A Plea for the English Language

    I believe that it is perfectly right and proper to study the mother tongue, provided the English language has already received its share of attention, as the knowledge of mare than one language is of great value to us in our walk through life. It also tends to strengthen the intellectual faculties. I also believe that no one should deem it improper to speak the mother tongue where the exigencies of the hour demand it.

    But I still believe that a more extended use of English should be brought about, because speaking English is more becoming to an American citizen. Our forefather's future prospects in the mother country were not bright, but here they found a ready welcome after they had braved the stormy ocean in search of more congenial surroundings, and we, their descendants, being reared amid the free institutions of our land, certainly ought to have enough love for our staunch republic to use its language in daily life.

    In a former article I asserted that if English came into general use throughout 2the Scandinavian groups, it would place us on a more intimate footing with our English-speaking neighbors. No critic can prove that this statement is erroneous. It seems to me that if an extended use of English were brought about it would have a tendency to unify the people of all the states; there would be less hatred and more brotherly feeling between man and man; in fact, the whole nation would be benefited thereby.

    How such daily use of English would cause us to forget--forget means to lose the remembrance of the mother tongue--is more than I can understand. The acceptance of the English language in all the spheres of life, in the home as well as in society, and in rural as well as in business life, would not tax our memories to such an extent that we would forget our native tongue. We would still be at liberty to study the Scandinavian languages.

    That Scandinavian employees who have become Americanized have better prospects in securing employment then have those who continually cling to old country 3customs and languages, is so well known that it is unnecessary to go into details.

    The young people are already manifestly in favor of English, at least the majority of them. They admire the beauty of English and American literature; they find it easier to express themselves in English on present-day themes, and that language will, at an early date, be accepted by most Scandinavians.

    I believe that it is perfectly right and proper to study the mother tongue, provided the English language has already received its share of attention, as the knowledge of mare ...

    Norwegian
    III A, I C
  • Skandinaven -- April 03, 1900
    English Translations of Norwegian Songs Open Letter to Northwestern Singers' Association by John Dale

    Objections have been raised from several sides against the use of English translations of the texts of some of the choral songs for our coming Song Festival. Especially has the use of the English text for the "Olav Trygvason" been objected to. On account of this I beg to call on the singing societies of the Association to use the Norwegian text when preparing the song mentioned for the Festival. I do not believe that the change will cause great difficulty since the song, in its Norwegian text, is to be found in all the more widely used song collections for male choruses, and the text is easily adapted to the music in our new collection of musical numbers.

    I have made this change to mollify certain dissatisfied singing societies, but I have taken the step only with considerable reluctance. I am firmly 2convinced that we have arrived at the time when English texts ought to be used in presenting Scandinavian compositions, at least in part. In doing so we are opening a new door in music, as it were, to the English speaking public, and to do so is certainly to take a new step forward towards the goal the Association has set for itself. Anybody will understand why, in furtherance of this goal, I chose some of the pearls of Scandinavian musical creations to be sung in English. For the reasons given at the beginning of this statement, "Olav Trygvason" will be sung in Norwegian at the coming Song Festival, but no further changes will be made in the program.

    The "Peasant Wedding March" will be sung in English; the songs "Vart Land" and "Hor Oss Svea" will be presented as a concert number (A and B), as will "Song for Danes" and "Hoie Nord" (The Far North). My arrangement for a murmur chorus in the "Saterjentens Sondag" (The Sunday of the Dairy Maid) might well be left free from criticism until heard in connection with orchestral music.

    3

    Greatly against my wishes I have been compelled to select the songs for the Festival unaided. Such being the case, I think it proper to ask, now that the selection has been printed, that tolerance be shown in regard to the selected material and that the individual singing societies practice the material presented to the best of their ability. Next time somebody else will be given the chance of doing things better.

    Singing societies wishing to participate in the concerts of the Song Festival are requested to notify me as early as possible and inform me of the pieces selected by them. No Singing Society will have a chance to sing more than one selection at the concerts during the Song Festival.

    I appeal to all the singing societies and the singers to apply themselves seriously to the task at hand. We want to maintain the renown of the Scandinavians as a group ranking high in the art of singing. We also want to see the individual societies as successful participants.

    Objections have been raised from several sides against the use of English translations of the texts of some of the choral songs for our coming Song Festival. Especially has the ...

    Norwegian
    II B 1 a, II B 1 c 3, III A, I C
  • Skandinaven -- April 08, 1900
    The Foreign Vote (Editorial)

    Politicians and newspapers are wont to complain of the nationality issue in our politics. If an adopted citizen seeks a public office and receives strong support from the voters of his nationality, his candidacy and following are branded as clannish, un-American, etc.

    Improper appeals to the sentiment of nationality are occasionally made in many parts of the country, but this is not primarily the fault of our adopted citizens. Their ambition is to become good Americans. They are proud of their American citizenship and endeavor to fulfill their duties as citizens to the best of their ability. They may make mistakes, but they are honest and upright and conscious of their responsibilities and have amply demonstrated that they are worthy of the franchise. A comparative study of 2the local political history of the northwest will disclose the fact that public affairs have been managed as economically and as well by our adopted citizens as by the native born, and in many instances better.

    Then, some fine day, along comes a native-born politician in need of votes. He will address a gathering of adopted citizens, not as Americans, but as Germans, Irish, Scandinavians, Frenchmen, etc., as the case may be, feeding nationality-taffy to them with a lavish hand, and soliciting their support not as Americans, but as foreigners.

    And right there we have the origin of the "foreign vote". The adopted citizen did not know that he was a "foreigner" in politics until he was taught the lesson by native-born politicians, demagogues, schemers, trimmers, and designing manipulators. They probably did not foresee that by rubbing their political Aladdin's lamp they called to their aid a spirit that some day might get beyond their control. That, however, is precisely what has happened 3, for example in Chicago. The undue and dangerous influence acquired by certain nationalities in the politics of this city is but the inevitable result of cowardly and discreditable scheming on the part of leading American politicians. They will confess as much in private and whine about "the ruling race," etc. But they find themselves unable to break away from the policy and precedents they have established, and are compelled to keep on as they have begun.

    To illustrate: during the last municipal campaign a particularly offensive appeal to the supposed prejudices of an audience was made by Mayor Harrison in a speech in the Twenty-third Ward. Addressing a meeting of Swedes, he advised the Swedes not to vote for Alderman Olson because Mr. Olson is a Norwegian. Mr. Harrison evidently thinks that because Sweden and Norway honestly disagree upon certain questions, Swedes and Norwegians, even when they have become citizens of this country, are bound to be enemies. This error is to some extent excusable in people who are not particularly well versed in foreign 4affairs, and Mr. Harrison is in the same boat with many other gentlemen who wear good clothes. But his lack of information upon this point does not excuse his demagogical catering to the basic instincts of his audience. Even if he intended to say to the Swedes of the Ward that they ought not vote for Alderman Olson in the belief that he is a Swede, since he is a Norwegian, the Mayor would have been guilty of gross impropriety inasmuch as this would have been tantamount to saying that if Mr. Olson had been a Swede the Swedes ought to have voted for him on account of his nationality. The "foreign vote" will disappear when the native-born politicians come to understand that our adopted citizens are Americans and should be treated as such, but not before. Until then the "foreign vote" will remain to plague them.

    Politicians and newspapers are wont to complain of the nationality issue in our politics. If an adopted citizen seeks a public office and receives strong support from the voters of ...

    Norwegian
    I F 1, III A, I F 4
  • Skandinaven -- April 23, 1900
    The Mother Tongue by Halvor Hanson

    In the columns for the young people I see an article on more English and less Norwegian. Mr. Thompson says that "the Scandinavians of this country should abandon the habit of speaking in the Scandinavian languages and only speak English".

    I do not agree with Mr. Thompson in this. It would not seem right for us Scandinavians to discard our mother tongue. The young Scandinavians of this country use their own language too little now; in fact, some of them seem ashamed to be a Scandinavian or to talk the language; and many of them will not use their old mother tongue unless they have to.

    I cannot understand why Scandinavians should not speak their own language among themselves, in their homes or in their gatherings, whenever there are none but 2Scandinavians present. It is all right to speak English when people are present who cannot understand any other language; but when it comes to being ashamed of speaking our own language among ourselves, then I think matters are going too far.

    Mr. Thompson says that we should not use any language but English in the home, in church, in the parlor, or in the fields. If we could not use the Scandinavian languages in any of those places, I do not quite see where we could use it at all. To most of our young people the home is the only place where they have the chance to learn to speak and read a Scandinavian language, and if the parents do not speak these languages the children cannot learn them.

    I would not say that our young people cannot get along without learning Scandinavian languages, but certainly the knowledge of them will come in handy many a time. Besides, we ought to know something about the language our forefathers used, no matter what language it be.

    I, for one, hold that our young people ought to study the Scandinavian languages in their homes, while they have the opportunity to do so.

    In the columns for the young people I see an article on more English and less Norwegian. Mr. Thompson says that "the Scandinavians of this country should abandon the habit ...

    Norwegian
    I C, III A