HT 1990

The Development of Norwegian Immigration Laws

SUMMARY
In 1814, Norway became an independent nation, except in matters concerning foreign affairs. She was also in a position to establish her own aliens' legislation. There are three fairly distinct periods in the development of Norwegian aliens' legislation. The period leading up to 1860 saw the gradual abolition of the statutes that had lingered on from mercantilist despotism, until virtually all regulations on migration to and from Norway, as well as within Norway, were abolished by the statute of 21 March 1860. This enactment reflected the liberalistic convictions of the majority in the Norwegian parliament at the time, and marked the peak of Norwegian liberalism in this respect. The liberalistic period lasted until 1901, when Norway's first aliens' act was passed. This act was initiated mainly by trade and labour associations in the south-eastern part of Nor-way, where the influx of Swedish workers was most noticeable. In the Storting the bill was debated at length. The economic protectionist argument was downplayed, and the act was passed as a measure against the influx of "bad" foreign elements. The need for such protection was not disputed, even although it was widely regretted that this breach with liberal tradition had become necessary. The act did not go very far by later standards: passports were not reintroduced, but foreign citizens - Norwegian citizenship having been defined by statute for the first time only in 1888 - had to register at the local police office if they intended to take up residence or work in the realm. And they could, as had also been the case even before the law of 4 May 1901, be expelled if they were unable to support themselves in an honest way. With the advent of the First World War came stricter rules regulating immigration to Norway. Visa and passports were introduced by the statute of 13 July 1917, and when the act of 1860 was finally and formally repealed and replaced by the new aliens' act of 22 April 1927 its liberal principles had long since become lost in a string of provisional amendments. The aliens' legislation between the two world wars is characterised by a certain overt bias against nationalities and individuals. The act of 1927 explicitly denied gypsies residence permits. None, not even prominent liberals such as Paal Berg - soon to become chief justice and later the head of the Norwegian resistance during the German occupation 1940-45 - had any qualms about overtly defending the bill as a means of protecting Norway against the flood of "emigrant scum" that the migration during and after the First World War was said to represent. Thus traces of racist and social-Darwinist tendencies can be detected in the law-texts as well as in the arguments introducing the various bills. Another characteristic of the aliens' bills from this period is that they were hardly debated at all in the Norwegian parliament.

The later crimes and bestialities of Hitler's Germany made such attitudes intolerable. The present aliens' act was passed in 1956 primarily as a measure to protect the Norwegian labour market. This became the main justification then, which it had not been earlier. The ban against gipsies was lifted, and the needs of political refugees were taken into consideration. Besides, the aliens' act of 1956 was passed at a time when the proportion of foreigners in Norway was at an all-time low: 1 per cent of the total population were foreign citizens. This fact also may help to explain the enactment's humane and liberal hue.

Earlier the aliens' legislation had been enacted towards the end of periods of increased immigration: 1900 and 1920 had been peak years of foreign residents in Norway at around 3 per cent. When a temporary ban on immigration was introduced in Norway in 1974, the percentage was well below that level. But by then another kind of immigration had made itself felt. Numerically it was still negligible, not exceeding 10 000 in 1975, but it showed an upward trend, and in the rather homogenous Norwegian society it was quite an unfamiliar phenomenon: emigrants and refugees from non-European developing countries. A new aliens' act was passed in June 1988, confirming a general trend in the development of Norwegian aliens' legislation from the First World War on: around 1900 foreigners would be denied residency in the realm only on the ground of specific conditions, today they will only be granted residency on specific conditions.
Ole Kolsrud

 The Export of Wood Pulp 1870-95


In this article two theories on the development of the Norwegian mechanical wood-pulp industry from the 1870s to the mid-1890s is discussed. It is argued that demand was the main growth-promoting factor during the 1870s and 80s. Supply-side activity in the British market has not been shown to have had any important influence on demand. The growth of the Norwegian wood-pulp industry was triggered by demand and a large margin of profit. Consequently, there was a glut in the market during the depressed mid-1870s. Prices fell, and this again led to a considerable increase in demand.

Wood-pulp prices dropped by more than 60 percent from the early 1870s to the 1890s. This "crisis" has been put forward as an explanation for the impressive productivity gains in the wood-pulp industry from 1870 to 1895, pushing capitalist satisfaction towards technological transformation. Contrary to this view, supported by the business archives of the firm P. Anker in Halden, it is argued that the rise in productivity that followed more or less automatically was due to wood-pulp production being in its early stages. There were big relative gains in increasing sales, and experience allowed for small adjustments to be made with considerable effect on cost reduction. Towards the end of the period, this situation changed. Profit fell to a critical level, but the capitalists searched for market control rather than technological change.
Odd Halvorsen


 

The Child Labourers of the Norwegian Industry - Why did they disappear?


The Factory Act of 1892 prohibited the employment of children under the age of 12 in the industrial work force. For young workers between 12 and 18 years of age working conditions were regulated.

Around the turn of the century child labour disappeared in the factories. The reports of the Factory Inspector are a main source for the investigation of how the Factory Act may have influenced this development. It becomes evident then that the Factory Act was only of secondary importance for the gradual disappearance of industrial child labour. The Act was passed and put into effect at a time when the system of child labour was already on the decline. Dispensations granted to the factory owners indicated that there were ways of bypassing the law. Furthermore, the Factory Inspector had no way of controlling that the Act was enforced throughout the country.

It seems clear that the Primary School Education Acts of 1889 also had little significance for the abolition of industrial child labour. School and work coexisted in ways which made combinations possible even after the educational reform acts of 1889. Although school hours were expanded, the reform in itself did not put an end to industrial child labour.

Improved economy for working class families reduced their dependence on children's income. But economic considerations were not the only motive for working class families who sent their children to work in factories. Work itself was thought to be morally disciplining, as well as giving practical training. Improved standard of living among the working class did not totally eliminate such arguments.

The most important reasons for the dissolution of industrial child labour are found in changes within the industry itself. New and advanced technology helped to transform industrial work from an extensive and work-demanding process to become more inclusive and labour saving. It was primarily the level and the rate in which new technology was introduced in a factory, which decided if a factory would benefit from child labour and the extent to which children were used as labourers. The drive behind improved technology was the desire to make factories more profitable. To invest in new technology proved in the end to be more profitable than cheap labour.
Ellen Schrumpf
 

Burial Customs and Ideas of Faith in the Old Agricultural Community - A source of eror when using the oldest parish registers to study mortality?

This article takes as its point of departure a remark in an entry in a parish register from Vik in Bronnoy parish in Helgeland in the early 18th century. One of the chaplains made the following note in the parish register after calculating the total number of baptisms and burials to which the local clergy had ministered: dnterments: 13. Non-interred dead: 30.. The non-interred dead must of course have been buried along with the others. The chaplain's note is therefore interpreted as being a comment on the number of burials without the ministrations of the clergy. As this is an area where all the inhabitants at the beginning of the 18th century were members of the Danish-Norwegian Established Church, the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that a considerable number of burials must have taken place without the assistance of the vicar. The frequency of this phenomenon is calculated on the basis of sources from Bronnoy parish from the period 1670-1718. The conclusion seems to be that we must allow for at least twice, perhaps even three times as many deceased children as we find in the parish register, and possibly as many as 40% more adult deceased. However, the number of dead is difficult to calculate using parish registers, and the estimate is very indeterminate.

 The astonishing number of burials without the participation of the clergy is explained by the great number of lay rites that had to be performed in laying the dead to rest. It seems that a considerable number of burials were conducted using exclusively lay rites, some of which seem to have been of non-Christian origin. An important purpose of burial-rites was to safeguard the family of the deceased against the return of his/her ghost. The rites ministered to by the clergy seem in many cases to have been perceived as dispensable - possibly necessary mainly at the burial of .important>> members of society, while for example the ghosts of children and paupers were considered less likely to make trouble.

 If we interpret the role of the clergy in burial rites around the year 1700 in this way, we have to be especially careful when using the oldest parish registers. We have to assume an incomplete registration of deaths in such early registers. Registration of deaths among the poorest and least educated sections of the population is probably more incomplete than registration of deaths in the less superstitious>> sectors of the population. Thus the early parish register may be a poor source of social differences in mortality. The literate part of the population would probably not be content with lay rites, no doubt considering the blessing of the Church as the only honourable and effective way to lay the dead to rest, while their poorer neighbours may more often have dispensed with the ministrations of the clergy at the burial.
Ragnhild Høgsset

 
 

The Icelanders' relationship with animals in the High Middle Ages - A mentality-historical analysis of some family sagas.

The idea that our attitude towards nature is partly responsible for the present environmental problems raises the question as to what extent this attitude changes historically. The article deals with the Icelanders' relationship to animals in the High Middle Ages, especially to the domestic animals, which were a part of their daily life. What did the early Icelanders think about animals? How did they treat them? How did their relationship with animals reflect social differences?

I shall investigate an aspect of mentality - understood here as a set of dominating, relatively permanent attitudes, ideas and norms in a society - using the Old Icelandic family sagas as sources. The methodology is partly borrowed from K. Thomas's monograph on man and the natural world in early modern England. Thomas presents a wide range of possibilities for deducing attitudes from episodes in the sources and stresses the importance of the names of animals, their metamorphic use and as terms of abuse.

Apart from giving information about the economic and practical value of animals, the sagas almost exclusively describe animals negatively, characterising them as weak cowards and unworthy creatures. Metaphorically only negative attributes were ascribed to them. Consequently, the norm of good behaviour was often contrasted with that of an animal. Comparing a human being to a domestic animal was extremely humiliating and rapidly brought about escalation in conflicts.

Chieftains and wealthy free peasants and their wives generally refused to work with animals. An estate-owner ran the risk of becoming the laughing-stock of the neighbourhood just by lending a hand to the herdsman. Requesting people to work with animals was thus in many cases an offence and caused severe conflicts because it contained an element of social degradation. Activities involving care of animals were particularly degrading. By contrast, hunting or driving horses in horse-fights, activities that clearly demonstrate human superiority, was popular among free peasants. We have little information about the attitudes to working with animals in the lower social classes.

The duties that politics and the thing demanded of the chieftains and which maintained their class-consciousness were not irreconcilable with physical labour as such, but with work involving domestic animals. In literature, beasts were represented as the contrast to the honour and dignity, which the saga characters, competed for. Physical force and a certain agressivity were central values of medieval Nordic society, and weaker animals like sheep or goats were particularly subject to contempt. Stallions used for horse-fights and individual dogs were sometimes the objects of wealthy peasants' personal care. However, such relationships cannot be put on par with keeping a modern pet.

Vigorous animals like bears or wolves might have been the exception to this negative view, but such animals were not found in the Icelandic fauna and rarely appear in the sagas. However, despite the physical proximity of men and beasts in medieval Icelandic society, with its heavy reliance on animal resources, there was no feeling of companionship. Quite the contrary, the Icelandic free peasants tried -physically and mentally - to distance themselves as far as possible from animals.
Simon H Teuscher
 

Women's history in Norway 1970-1990, some trends

This article presents some characteristics of women's history in Norway since the 1970s. Teaching and research in this field were inspired both by the new women's movement and by the increasing interest in social history, family history and demography. The activity was especially high between 1975 and 1985. In those years many students (nearly all of them women) chose topics in women's history when they wrote theses for their final degree in history at the universities.

But few of them have been able to obtain economic support in order to continue research in women's history. Moreover, few women are permanently employed at the universities and the regional colleges teaching history, and there is only one full professor in women's history, Ida Blom, at the University of Bergen. The Norwegian Council for Research in the Humanities and the Social Sciences has supported and promoted research in women's history, first of all by time-limited research grants for some researchers and also by supporting conferences. Norwegian women historians have had considerable contact with other Nordic women historians and also internationally. The President and Vice-president of the International Federation for Research in Women's History are Norwegians.

Research in Norwegian women's history has been particularly concerned with the question of modernisation after 1850 and up until 1940 (see the bibliography printed in this issue of Historisk Tidsskrift). There are few women studies before 1850, and, as yet, women after 1940, and especially in the last 20 - 30 years, have mainly been studied by sociologists and other social scientists rather than by historians.

As for subjects of investigation in women's history, several topics in social and economic history have dominated research: women's organisations and their struggle for equal rights, reproduction and the family, and women's paid and unpaid work and professions. In the 1970s, research focused mainly on urban women. But the 1980s have seen more studies of rural women, something that has broadened our knowledge of women living in the country. This is important since Norway was largely an agrarian society also in the first part of this century.

The aim of women historians has been to have women's history integrated into all teaching and literature of history. Women's history was incorporated early into history textbooks in schools, and local history has become aware of the women perspective. Women historians have also followed the Norwegian historical tradition of presenting their findings for a broad market of readers. Still, integration of the gender perspective in general history is difficult. It is, for example, found somewhat lacking in most volumes of the History of the Workers' Movement in Norway.

Within women's history itself there are also theoretical discussions about its past and about the future path. This was a main theme at the third meeting of Nordic women historians in 1989. Today we may ask if women's history in Norway has stagnated since there are few students in the field, few researchers and not much in the way of economic resources going into the field. On the other hand, it may be that women's history is now becoming more integrated in historical research in general, since all historians are aware of the gender perspective.
Ingeborg Fløystad
 


 

Another Story? Women's history in an international perspective

In September 1987 the International Federation for Research in Women's History (la F6&ration Internationale pour la Recherche de Historie des Femmes) was accepted as an internal commission of the International Committee for Historical Sciences. Grouping national committees from 21 countries, and two affiliated organisations, this event signified a major hallmark in the historiography of women's history. Charting the development world-wide of this field within the historical sciences, the organisation is editing a publication also focusing on the latest themes in the international dialogue on theoretical problems.

 Drawing on the contents of this forthcoming publication, on the new journals journal of Women's History and Gender and History, as well as on other sources, the paper traces the main themes and positions of this dialogue. It discusses the concern that the concept of gender history may obscure research on women qua women and on gender power relations as opposed to the desire for enriched knowledge on a variety of feminities and masculinities and a wider focus on gender relations as well as on other expressions of social differences. The question of the gains or dangers involved in applying post-structuralist theories to women's and gender history is seen as another very central theme in the dialogue, as is the connection between historical research and present-day feminist politics.

 Finally, indications of dissatisfaction with the dominance of theoretical approaches, shaped by Western academic traditions, are touched on as signs of a genuine globalisation of research in women's history.
Ida Blom
 
 

Medieval women in an interdisciplinary Perspective

 The article presents a survey of current problems and tendencies in recent Scandinavian research on female history, and focuses on the results and possibilities of interdisciplinary studies, particularly in archaeology and history.

 The Scandinavian seminars on medieval women's history, arranged at irregular intervals since 1978, have undoubtedly been an important source of inspiration, serving as a meeting-place for scholars with common interests but representing a wide range of disciplines besides history: comparative religion, philology, literary history, archaeology, runology, human osteology, and so on. A fruitful co-operation has been initiated, widening the perspectives of the various disciplines. It must, however, be admitted that an interdisciplinary approach has, so far, only to a minor degree coloured individual studies.

 Broadly speaking, research on medieval women has followed the same trends as research on the history of women in general. The studies of gender as a social category and a 'gender system' have, however, not to a any large extent penetrated medieval research. In its first phase, work on the history of medieval women tended to treat them as a sector of social life in general. Their biological functions in reproduction and socialisation were rather heavily stressed. Another trend has been to focus on atypical and non-traditional female roles.

 Todayl Scandinavian medieval research can muster a series of both comprehensive theses and shorter articles on female history, comprising economic and legal conditions, religion and religious life, female participation in trade and industry, the role of gender in the division of labour, women in politics, and the contemporary image of women.

 These studies have been essential to medieval research in general in as much as they have supplemented such research. But it cannot be said that they have so far led to more comprehensive reinterpretation of medieval society. The term gender. has been shown to be a useful tool of analysis, but perhaps most fruitful when used as one of several variables.

 The article concludes by pointing out the need for further interdisciplinary research. A fuller integration of disciplines, combining the use of archaeological and written evidence and the application of new models, may enrich medieval archaeology as well as medieval history. Women's past should not be confined within established disciplinary barriers, but seen as an integral part of medieval culture and history.
Ingvild Øye
 


 

The Economic and Legal Position of Widows in the Norwegian Middle Ages

 The aim of this article is to highlight the position of widows by focusing on the kind of property they received after the death of their husband, their relationship with their children, and their right to dispose of their economic means. Did the position of widows' change during the middle ages? The sources consist of the old Provincial Laws, the Code of Laws, made by King Magnus Lagabote in 1274/1276 and different Law Amendments passed by Norwegian kings during the 13th and the 14th centuries. These laws will be compared with the practice as studied in the written documents from the subsequent period.

 After the death of her husband the widow received the dowry, consisting of clothes, textile equipment, gold, silver, money, farm products, land or other things, the dower, and a possible inheritance in land from her relatives. If debts were contracted after the wedding, the husband's relatives lost parts of the property. The dower could involve land from her husband.

 The old Norse word, "felag" means the combining of the properties of both husband and wife. Different paragraphs in the laws regulated the portion that the widow received when the property was divided. Poor wives received two-thirds if there were no children. The laws on "felag" seemed rather unclear and two different laws were repeated in 1297/98 and before 1306.

 However, the widows were free to dispose of property that was not regulated by the law, but had to have the consent of their heirs when selling houses or land. In old Norse legislation the gift institution did not exist. When a gift was made, another gift was expected in return. Christianity introduced a new legal practice that allowed persons to give away one-quarter of their own property and one-tenth of inherited property. This resulted in a stream of donations of land to the Church from widows.

 In the early Middle Ages the relatives had to take care of old people. From the 12th century convents served as boarding-houses for wealthy widows. On the other hand, some old widows made contracts with their sons in order to be taken care of. The widows were allowed to appear in courts both as witnesses and participants.

 Widows held a strong position during the whole period. According to the official documents, the division of the property into halves became more usual over time. Laws ca. 1300 gave husbands and wives the opportunity to make contracts that secured the women the best economic conditions as widows.
Ragnhild Ormøy
 

Marriage and Family as Elite-generating Factors in Seventeenth century Bratsberg

 This article polemizes against the main tendency in twentieth-century Norwegian historiography, which has been strongly influenced by historical materialism and quantitative social sciences. It distances itself from both a collective and an individualistic approach to history and advocates the primacy of the milieu, where the family has played the most important part.

 In the seventeenth century, marriage arrangements and family connections were just as important as any other factors in society. Almost all the county governors in Bratsberg (since 1918 called Telemark) county acquired their offices with the help of family connections, and normally through female relatives; wives or mothers. Property interests in the county provided the motivation for their acquiring the offices. During the period of the nobility's predominance (1536-1660) the county governors controlled patronage. They had a body of assistants and clerks in their residence in Skien, and from these staff bailiffs, customs officers and magistrates were recruited. These officials established themselves as merchants, industrialists (sawmills and iron works) and landowners and formed a regional upper class along with other merchants, industrialists and landowners who did not hold important offices but had officials among their forefathers and executed commissions for and made business with the state and its officials.

 The patron-client relationship between the county governors and the regional officials and merchants was weakened when the king centralised patronage under absolutism after 1660, although influential men and families also got their way in the new political system. Women played an active part in patronage both before and after 1660, as wives of county governors and as wives and mothers of officials and merchants in Bratsberg. Women mastered public and mercantile tasks, and we can clearly see how important it was for men to strengthen their positions by marriage with women belonging to the Bratsberg elite. There was a considerable immigration of young merchants and office-seeking men from other parts of Nor-way and from Denmark, Germany and Holland. The successful immigrants married into leading Bratsberg families, mostly in the county capital, Skien.

 In many cases the fathers-in-law transferred not only parts of their businesses and estates but also their public offices (with the consent of the patronage holder) to their sons-in-law - in some cases even to more distant relatives. When the elite became more self-sufficient this kind of marriage arrangements most often occurred within the Bratsberg elite itself. At the same time marriage was often arranged between families in a wider south-east Norwegian region from Christiania (Oslo) to Christlanssand.

 Among the men there were many Danes, but few immigrants were married before they came to Norway. Some men within the Bratsberg elite married women from Denmark, preferably from an influential milieu in Copenhagen, but those were men who were already well established in Bratsberg, while the immigrants preferred native wives. This phenomenon speeded up the integration of immigrants in Norwegian society, and it strengthened the position of women. They were the ones who had all their kinsfolk in the neighbourhood, and who mediated access to local resources and know-how.
Øystein Rian
 


 

Everyday-life of bourgeois women 1780-1830

Several authors have claimed that bourgeois woman prior to the 19th century were actively involved in business-life. They had the main responsibility for childcare and for the administration of and supplies to the household, and they were the second in command in business matters. The marriage, household and business was a joint concern. According to this view the idle bourgeois women of the 19th century came into existence together with changes in the capitalistic economy at the time.

The records of one big business Company, operating in Trondheim from 1773-1877, are used to examine the division of labour between husband and wife in the late 18th and early 19th century. The records give evidence for both the business-family in Trondheim and their near relatives among the landowners in Nordland.

The selection of spouses is examined in this family with reference to whether this was mainly an economic or a romantic matter. We find signs of parental arrangements for appropriate marriages within the right social group. It seems important that the spouses are of the same economic and social class. But it is also important that love and mutual respect should be the basis of the marriage. If that is no longer present, even divorce is accepted as a last resort.

The differences in upbringing and education of boys and girls are seen in connection with their future task. Education - both in schools and as formalised practical training - was very important for boys of this social background. The girls were also given theoretical education in schools, but less than the boys. Their practical education took place at home in the household, or in other households. The boys were educated to be leaders of their enterprise, whereas the girls were educated to be their assistants in business and take care of the household. We find several traces of the women's interest and participation in business life. There was no ideological opposition to women taking part in business, and they were expected to do so if the economic and practical circumstances made it necessary. But the main task of the women was to manage the household - a household, which comprised also people, employed in the enterprise. The upper class household was engaged in farming both in the city and in the countryside. In the great countryside farm we find a clear division of labour between the husband and wife: the wife was responsible for the animals, the husband for production of grain and hay. They were also heading the servants in their respective fields. In the city the cattle were part of the household work, and as such women's work. Administration of the farm the city bourgeois usually kept outside the town could vary between the sexes - we have found examples of the wife taking main responsibility for this, as well as the husband.

For the upper class women one of their main tasks was to produce children - and especially important: an heir. The childbed had as a consequence that they could not perform their ordinary tasks. But it seems that the upper class women of the 18th century did not let nursing children prevent them from taking part in work or social activity. Wet-nurses and other servants were available for care of the infants, even if some of these women did the nursing themselves.

The material used is not sufficient to conclude about changes over time. But it seems that the women of the older generation of the family studied are clearly participants in the business as a joint project, whereas the position of the women in the younger generation is more uncertain.
Ida Bull
 

The cotter family's work on the farm

 The account books from a farm (Samsal) in Hedemarken, east Norway, give us detailed information about the work of cotter families on the larger farms. These books provide statistics on all members of the family and are therefore valuable sources of information about the women's and children's daily tasks. This article deals mainly with the cotter families' division of labour, their economic position, and their work situation between 1790 and 1840.

Samsal was one of the larger farms in the parish. It subsisted on agriculture with specialisation in grain fields (25-35 acres). The production was market-orientated with the sale of grain, brandy and linen outside the parish. The large fields, by Norwegian standard, forced these farms to have a large, cheap and reliable work force.

In order to do this, there were 5-6 families living on the farm grounds. These people were called cotters. The man, his wife and children were under obligation to work on the farm. Having a small patch of land and a couple of cows, the cotters were forced to find other sources of income. The rent was paid for by working on the farm.

The fixed day's wage for men was twice as high in the summer than in the winter. Women had a fixed salary throughout the whole year, and in that way they earned just as much as their husbands during the winter season. Most of the agricultural work was based on a fixed day's wage. In addition, some work could be done by contract, which was more profitable for the women.

In summer, the family was employed in agriculture. At the age of 14, girls as well as boys started working on the farm. Like their parents, they were provided with free board, as well as being paid the same as their mother. The boys did not receive a raise to adult level until the age of 22. Several of the children remained at home until they were grown up, doing work at home and on the farm. In winter, the girls primarily helped their mother with the spinning and weaving. The children constituted a cheap and stable work force that was much more reliable than the day labourers. They were an important prerequisite for the farm's specialised production.

In addition to the tasks on the farm, the women had three areas of responsibility at home: 1. agricultural work, 2. housekeeping and caring, 3. childbirth. Around 1800, each woman worked 38 % of the year's weekdays on the farm, which increased to 44 % in the 1830s, while the men raised their percentage from 55 to 70 in the same period. During winter, the men threshed the grain on the farm, while the women stayed at home, spinning and weaving the flax and hemp that they had helped to produce on the farm. Yarn and textiles were delivered to the farm, and the pay was balanced in an overall account between the farmer and the cotter family. Organising both the production and sale, the farmer sold the linen in cast Norway.

Around the turn of the century, the women were all busy with this industry in winter. However, in the 1820s, the introduction of cotton forced linen out of the market. The large farms did not experience any economical problems as a result of this change of crops, as they then began growing potatoes in the flax fields and started the production of potato brandy, which they sold.

The women, however, were thrown out of work when the market for their products slumped. They lost their winter income from spinning and weaving, and were forced to do more hard agricultural work. Days in the field per year increased from about 20 in 1800 to 100 thirty years later. Women's work had not only become heavier, it also meant that they had to be away from home more, which was not a good thing for the small children. But the average wages remained at the same level it was only the variety of the work that had changed. Of the family's final income on the farm, the woman contributed to about one-third in both of these periods.

The cotter women in Hedmarken had lost their craftwork and the earlier winter income was never to be completely replaced with anything else. The problem was to be solved by the abolishment of the cotter system or by migration to America.
Anna Tranberg
 

The Introduction of Equal Inheritance for Women and Men. The Law of 31st of July 1854

In 1854 the Norwegian storting (parliament) passed a law giving women the right to equal inheritances with men. A woman's inheritance share had since medieval times been only half of what a man got. Since 1830 farmers in the storting had suggested such a law, but the government and their supporters (state officials and bourgeois members) opposed it until the law finally was sanctioned by the government i 1854. The article analyses the arguments for and against the law, further background for such a change in women's position, and why the farmers, especially farmers from the eastern part of the country, wanted the law. This law was one of the first Norwegian laws stating legal equality between women and men, and the first one to include all women.

The constitution of 1814 gave the peasantry the right to vote and to be represented in the parliament. They formed a dominant group from the 1830s, having a policy of their own and opposing the government in many cases. The farmers wanted less restriction in economic life, and the law of unequal inheritance was one of many laws that they wanted changed for this purpose. Unmarried women had got an extended right to dispose of their means in 1845 (also at the initiative of the farmers). This, together with equal inheritance, might free more capital for the market, an important factor in a society with very few credit institutions. And farmers in the eastern part of the country, who were among the largest landowners in Norway, began to be involved in the market economy. This may be the main reason why they suggested equal inheritance. However, the farmers did not use such arguments in the storting. They maintained primarily ideal reasons, equal law was just and fair and in accordance with natural rights. But those representatives of the storting who accepted equal inheritance, did not wish equality in all areas of the society as early as 1854.

The opponents of the law maintained that women's position in family and society was one of dependence and less active participation than men, and that they had no need for the same share of inheritance. But mostly the opponents spoke about what they saw as negative economic consequences of the law, too much division of land property. Behind this argument one finds the state officials' fear of losing power and a negative attitude towards more democracy (more division of land would mean more voters - farmers -who got political influence). - The government sanctioned the law after the storting had passed a paragraph that allowed for certain regulations of inheritance in wills. - Also Sweden, partner in the political union, had for some years had equal inheritance right, and it was soon to be introduced in Denmark.

The law was passed before organised women's groups demanded equal rights for women. But all credit for it should not go to the men. One farmer once said in the storting that women were co-owners of the farms because of their work there. This means that the economic participation of the farm-women indirectly gave weight to the farmers' arguments of justice towards women. In the bourgeois society the women did not participate in economic life together with men, and they were more subordinate to men than farm-women. This bourgeois ideal is reflected in the arguments of the opponents, arguments which were not favourably forpassing a law of equal inheritance.

This law was one of the laws passed in the first half of the 19th century that made it possible for Norwegian women to be more independent of the household and more self-reliant. This made them able to adjust to the growing market economy. The laws stating more equality between men and women were thus important in many ways for the modernisation of the society.
Ingeborg Fløystad
 
 

Pre-school teachers in Norway in the 20th century

 This article describes the socialisation of the female pre-school teachers with respect to the role of good housewives and mothers, and their qualifications obtained through formal education. The aim is to point out which aspects of the woman's role have been emphasised at different times.

Based on interviews with pre-school teachers from central Norway, qualifications obtained during the first two decades after World War 11 are studied in particular. This has still been a pioneer phase for the nursery school (barnehage) in Norway. It is then compared to the turn of the century in order to show how qualifications have changed.

In Norway, as well as the other Scandinavian countries, the ideas of the German philosopher and founder of the kindergarden, Friedrich Frobel, on the role of the woman, the importance of the home and the function of the female pre-school teacher have had a particular influence. Therefore, the model for the Norwegian nursery school has not been the school, but several aspects of the home.

It is concluded that although theoretical skills have become a more important part of the qualification of the pre-school teachers, certain aspects of the traditional role of being a good housewife are still alive.
Tora Korsvold
 


 

The Female Sorters who Disappeared. A gender perspective on a piece of employment history

How can the gender dimension shed light upon working relations in a factory? This article focuses on a small group of women workers in a factory dominated by men; the sorters in a cardboard factory (Mesna Kartongfabrikk in Lillehammer) in the post-1945 years. During the first half of the 1950s, the sorting of cardboard sheets was taken over by men. The article also questions why and how this happened.

The sorting and packing of cardboard was heavy but simple work. It required a combination of speed, dexterity and thoroughness and women were considered very suitable in these respects. Of course, their low pay two-thirds that of the lowest paid men - was also an important consideration for their suitability.

The sorting departments were generally, and at Mesna Kartongfabrikk especially, badly rationalised and "loose" departments. This made for extensive autonomy among the women sorters as to distribution and division of work. Their working speed was task-orientated; working hard when there was a lot to do, spending their time more freely when there was little work. In many ways the department was built around the women; their low pay, their dexterity in work, their working-rhythm and their evaluation of time. A special rule allowing them to leave a bit earlier if they had finished the day's work, caused resentment among the men in the department, who were obliged to follow the women's working-rhythm while having no such rule themselves. But generally there was little overt gender conflict, and the women formed an integral part of the cardboard -workers' milieu. Having lots of relatives and friends at the factory, they were part of the milieu from the outset. Also, since factory work was only a phase in the lives of most of them, resentments did not come to a head. But nevertheless they did exist. The women knew they were paid lower wages than the men. Once there was open conflict because the women were made to wash the floors, but the women interviewed here do not remember this. This may partly be due to the women regarding these years as "good years", and to a tendency among them to glorify the past. It may also be that the trade union, by - generally guarding the work content of the different jobs made the conflict greater and more of an issue than it was for the women. Generally the trade-union supported the women as an under paid group, but not specifically as women.

Two factors made for change: The chief engineer wanted to modernise and rationalise; the trade union wanted to increase the wages of the lowest paid workers through piecework. The result was time studies and piecework in the sorting department. This made the employment of women workers less desirable. Three decisions by the factory leadership signalled a change. First, they advertised for sorters, women or men. Second, they decided to hire women sorters on a part-time basis, thus being free to send them home when there was little to do. Third, they changed the working hours so that the hours in the sorting department were now the same as in the other departments.

The piecework completely changed working relations in the sorting department. It now became a department with high wages, a speedy and steady work pace, few breaks and strict supervision. Tension among the workers increased, and the few women who remained were transferred to other departments.

Thus the gender dimension was related to the production system, not in a simple way, but as a separate system related to the other systems and agents which shaped working relations.
Inger Bjørnhaug