Welcome to the Scandinavian East Coast Museum!
Annual Essay Contest in Honor of Leif Eriksson
The Norwegians have been in our neighborhood of southwest Brooklyn, for over 400 years, since the time New York was a Dutch colony. They founded Lutheran Medical Center, the Norwegian Christian Home & Health Center and many other institutions in the Bay Ridge area. Leif Eriksson Park is named after one of their greatest explorers and contains many Norwegian features, including a Viking ship playground.
During the month of October the Scandinavian East Coast Museum hosts an Annual Essay Contest for children from 4th – 6th grades, to honor Leif Eriksson. This year’s topic is, “200 Years of Democracy - Cut By the Occupation.”
Norway became a kingdom in 1030, but from 1380 until 1814 was under foreign rule. In 1814, Norway finally had its first constitution. However, this hard fought recognition, as an independent country was lost once again, when the Nazis occupied Norway from 1940 - 1945. However, the Norwegian people did not take this hostile take over lying down. Their Resistance Movement was so powerful, in this country of less than 5 million, that United States President Roosevelt praised Norway as an example to the world in its fight against injustice.
Listen to some words from his famous Look to Norway speech. "If there is anyone who still wonders why this war is being fought, let him look to Norway. If there is anyone who has any delusions that this war could have been averted, let him look to Norway; and if there is anyone who doubts the democratic will to win, again I say, let him look to Norway."
Research Norway's history under the occupation. Find one person and or story that exemplifies Norwegians Resistance. Write about why this person and or act was so important.
There will be 2 winners selected. Prizes include: a gift certificate to Nordic Delicacies, Viking Memorabilia, and riding on a replica Viking Ship in the Norwegian Day Parade May 2015.
For further information, please contact Victoria Hofmo at 718-748-5950. If you would like more information about Norwegian contributions and or history in New York, we would be more than happy to provide an educational presentations.
The Scandinavian East Coast Museum is proud to present a new addition to our website,
the Monthly Highlight, which will feature a piece from our collection.
This plate is being given from the Estate of Evelyn (Paulsen) & Thomas Thompson.
Evelyn was born In Telemark, Norway In 1923 and lived In Kristiansand until moving to Bay Ridge at the age of three. Thomas was born in Bay Ridge in 1919, his parents were both from Farsund, Norway.They both grew up in Bay Ridge. Evelyn graduated from Fort Hamilton High School and Tom graduated from New Utrecht High Schoo,l and was a Sergeant in the Army, serving in France.
They both attended and were active members of 59th Street Church, where they eventually met, and were married in May of 1947. They had three boys, Brian, Steven & Donald, and later adopted a baby girl, Corinne. They moved out to North Merrick, Long Island to raise their family but returned to Bay Ridge often to visit family and friends and participate in events. Thomas passed away in 1982, and Evelyn passed away in 2012.
To all who see it,I hope this plate brings back many wonderful memories of 59th Street Church, and the many years of ministry it has had among the residents of Bay Ridge.
Our first highlight was a book entitled Tordenskjold, by Paul Anker, printed in 1890. On first glance this books grabs the eye with its beautiful illustrations. Its content is even more wonderful, as it introduces modern audiences to a a very prominent Norwegian naval man Peter Jansen Wessel Tordenskjold, nicknamed Thunder Shield. He was born in Trondheim in 1690 and moved to Copenhagen at age 14 where he began to work in the navy. (There was no independent Norwegian navy at this time, as Norway was under Danish rule, rather it was known as the Royal Dano- Norwegian Navy.) He quickly rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral, was ennobled for his naval exploits by King Frederick the IV of Denmark in 1716, and died at age 30 in a duel.
Tordenskjold's reputation has led to several boats being named in his honor. One is a fishing schooners built in 1911; over 100 years later it is still afloat continuing as a fishing vessel in Alaska. A PBS documentary about her has been made, Tordenskjold: Boat of the Century.
Another, a steamer built in Trondheim around 1906 served as a coastal passenger vessel, Hurtigruten route and in the service of the Norwegian Merchant Marines. During WWII it served a in a variety of uses, including as a troop carrier and convoy and even sustained air attack.
This books and several others were donated by Lee Umphrey grandson of Evelyn Soley Umphrey. Evelyn was 100% Norwegian and traveled back there several times during her lifetime before she died in 1999. Evelyn was the daughter of Ivar Kristian Sollie(1878-1973) who was born in Kjelsaas and grew up in Oslo, and Elizabeth Austad Sollie(1882-1968) who was born in Larvik. Ivar came to America and settled in Providence, RI in 1904 and started work immediately as a tool maker at Brown & Sharp. Elizabeth soon followed and they married in 1906, the year Evelyn was born. Evelyn was fiercely loyal to her heritage and once famously(within our family) took umbrage to critical remarks made by the Chef Julia Child about Norwegian food during a New England Herbal Society Luncheon in Boston. With Julia towering high above her, she dressed her down. * Note--the late spelling of the name was Soley but it appears that Sollie was the spelling when they first came over.