SYTTENDE MAI. One of the biggest Norwegian events is the 17th of May Parade. "It is a big deal in Norway, so it's a big deal here," Kristine Leander, a local author and cultural director for the Swedish Cultural Center Leander said. This 17th of May Parade photo was taken in 1905 as the parade moved along Market Street.

New book shows off 'Norwegian Seattle'

Kristine Leander, a local author and cultural director for the Swedish Cultural Center, has recently published the book "Norwegian Seattle."

The book is part of a series called "Images of America." The series uses pictures from the past to illustrate a community's journey to the present.

Leander is a Swedish descendant but after living in Norway for a couple years during the '80s, she fell in love with the culture. Upon returning to Seattle she embraced the Norwegian community.

"When I heard about the possibility to write this, I thought it would be cool," said Leander. She also loved the idea of the photography involved with the project. She started the book in January and finished in June.

The illustrations start from the 1870s and the era of the early pioneers, go through both world wars, the history of some popular Norwegian centers and museums, and end with the most recent examples of the Norwegian presence in Seattle.

The book consists of 127 pages of black and white photos.

"I had to do a lot of background research. I went to people I knew who had family photos or family scrapbooks," said Leander.

She also visited the University of Washington and looked through its historic photos.

"Since the book was going to be published, I couldn't just guess," she said, in regard to obtaining the details of each photo. "I had historians in the community look over the photos and captions to make sure everything was accurate."

The flow of the book came naturally, as Leander started with the oldest photographs and ended with the most recent. "I thought it wrote itself, by way of organization," she said.

Her degree in anthropology also came into play, and she studied the photos like an anthropologist would. She asked herself, "What were the forces of that time?" and tried to include those observations in the book.

"Norwegian Seattle" has a lot of information and history about Ballard. According to Leander almost all Norwegian activity in the Seattle area has been centered in Ballard since a solid community was formed over a century ago.

One of the biggest Norwegian events is the 17th of May parade.

"It is a big deal in Norway, so it's a big deal here," Leander said. "Ballard has one of the biggest 17th of May parades outside of Norway." The parade celebrates when Norway's constitution was signed and has been celebrated in Ballard since 1889.

There will be several opportunities for the public to meet the author and have their book signed. The first chance will be Saturday, Nov. 15 from 1 - 3 p.m. at The Nordic Maid in Poulsbo.

During the second signing two descendants of men featured in the book will join Leander and tell stories of their family history. The presentation will be held at the Nordic Heritage Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

The final signing will be held at Strictly Scandinavian Gifts in Gig Harbor on Saturday, Dec. 6 from 1 - 3 p.m.

In addition to the Nordic Museum, copies of Leander's book can be found locally at Scandinavian Specialties and Epilogue Books.

Leander noted that the book "could make a great Christmas present."

Alison Ingham is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory and may be reached via

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