Heron Run Press

Utsira, Norway, Farm and Family History, 1521-1995

Utsira, Norway, Farm and Family History, 1521-1995

by Jostein Austrheim

Translated by Johannes Christoffersen

Edited by Virginia Stover

This translation of Utsira, Gard og slekt (Utsira, Farm and family) by Jostein Austrheim (pronounced Yoe-stain Oh-ster-hime) will be of interest to the many Americans and Canadians who have roots in Norway, particularly those with descendants from Utsira, the tiny, ruggedly beautiful island municipality located in the wind-swept North Sea 11 miles west of Haugesund, off the southwest coast.
The Norwegian version, published in 1995 by Utsira Kommune (the Municipality of Utsira), represents years of research by Austrheim, a native 'Sirabu' whose roots on 'Sira' go back generations. Indeed, the book is a record of human settlement going back nearly 500 years, though the archaeology suggests habitation as early as 2000 BC.
Not an easy life (today, there are just 230 or so residents), and the book is sprinkled with accounts of drownings at sea and the challenges of daily life. The earliest written records date to 1521. From that date, Austrheim gives an account of the farmers, fishermen and their families, along with old photos, colorful tales and news clippings that will help readers appreciate what life was like for those early-day residents. It might also explain why some left to find their fortunes elsewhere.
Johannes Christoffersen, the translator, and Virginia Stover, the editor, have strived to make this English-language version faithful to the original. Austrheim had this to say about their efforts:
“Over the years we have mailed copies of the book to our relatives in the USA and Canada and some have obtained a copy when visiting Utsira. We were well aware of the language barrier for our English–speaking relatives. Only being able to read the names and dates, without understanding all the other information given in the book, lessened the experience of knowing our ancestors better . . . When first told of the plan to translate the book, we were overjoyed by the news, and also relieved because we had only a few copies left of the first edition.”
Hopefully, this translation of Austrheim’s book achieves two ends: first, to inform those who are simply curious about the history of this small, exotic island in the North Sea; and second, to provide answers for those who have wondered about their own past.
Click here to read an article about the book with a photo of the author that appeared in Haugesund Avis newspaper in Norway recently.
Click here to see Tourist Brochure about Utsira (scroll down for English).

Approaching Utsira Harbor

Utsira ferry

Utsira View East

View from Utsira Lighthouse

Utsira Stone Buildings

Leaving Utsira Harbor

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