Friday, September 19, 2008

The History of Sons of Norway's Logo

Today we bring you the first blog entry from Sons of Norway's very own Cultural Advisor (Kulturrådgjevar), Colin Thomsen. In this installment Colin answers a question we get from a lot of our members regarding the history of the Sons of Norway logo. It's a very interesting topic, and we hope you enjoy it.

Sons of Norway Headquarters frequently gets questions about the Sons of Norway shield – that familiar symbol found throughout the organization on everything from stickers and patches to letterhead and websites. So we did some research, looking at history books and old copies of the Viking and here’s what we’ve found.

In 1901 Sons of Norway’s board of directors voted to approve an emblem to represent the fast-growing organization. This logo consisted of a rotund tri-color shield that looked a little like a sheriff’s badge. In the top red stripe there was a symbol representing the midnight sun, while the bottom blue stripe contained the North Star. The center white stripe was reserved for the abbreviation “S. af N.” for “Sønner af Norge” as the organization was then known.

That shield remained in use until a 1922 committee selected a new design. The new emblem, created by Martin J Grindheim (then-president of Nordkap 1-008) in many ways resembles the current one; a narrow shield with a Viking ship, and the North Star. However the Viking ship was shown from a side view and the North Star was found at the bottom of the shield, where it had been in the pervious design. Other differences include the letters “FBF” (Frihed, Broderkjærlighed, Fremskritt – Freedom, Brotherly Love, and Progress, in the Norwegian of the time) over the ship and an American eagle perched over the top of the shield.

Other versions of the shield emblem were used on documents and regalia over the years. Member Peter Gandrud (1-500) of Bemidji sent us in some photos of regalia from the now defunct Solvang lodge of Sunburg, Minnesota, to which his grandfather belonged in the 1910s. Peter’s photos show an excellent example of a version of the logo that was typical for regalia of the time.

As early as 1914, pressure had been building to include Canadian symbolism in the shield, and in 1929 another revised version of the logo was presented. The 1929 emblem was a circle, containing a shield with a forward-facing Viking ship with the midnight sun behind it. Above the shield a banner appeared, with the initials “SN” separated by a star. On the left of the shield is an American eagle; on the right, the Canadian maple leaf.

This symbol was used in the masthead of the organization’s monthly magazine until 1955. In the late 40s and early 50s simplified versions of the 1929 logo began appearing in the magazine, on songbooks and other places. Although there were many different variations on the idea, most of them dropped the eagle and maple leaf and integrated the “S*N” into the top of the shield. It seems that this version, resembling the current shield, became more popular through the 50s and was in widespread use by the time Headquarters was built in 1962.

However, our research so far has been unable to determine exactly who designed the current shield or when it was officially adopted. If anyone has any information about the origin of the modern Sons of Norway shield, we would be delighted to see it.


MJ said...

Very interesting. Thanks.

Sons of Norway said...

I thought so, too. Colin did a great job digging up information from nearly a century ago. It's an interesting thing to see all the history that's housed in the HQ. Every once in a while I propose the idea of putting together a collection and sending it on the road. No progress yet, but maybe someday.