Norse Mythology or the Religion of Our Forefathers


Rasmus Bjørn Anderson (January 12, 1846 – March 2, 1936) was an American author, professor, and diplomat. He brought to popular attention the idea that Viking explorers discovered the New World and was the originator of Leif Erikson Day.

Anderson was born in Albion in Dane County, Wisconsin to parents who were immigrants from Stavanger in the county of Rogaland, Norway. His parents were part of a small band of Quaker sympathizers who organized the first Norwegian emigration to America in the early 1820s. Anderson was a graduate of Luther College and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1867-1883. While there, he was the founding head of the Department of Scandinavian Studies, the oldest such department in an American university.

Rasmus B. Anderson founded a publication company, The Norrœna Society, which focused on republishing translations of texts devoted to "the History and Romance of Northern Europe". Anderson was the author of a number of books with Scandinavian themes. He also did a series of translations from Scandinavian languages, most notably the writings of Norwegian novelist Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. From 1885 to 1889, Anderson served as the United States Ambassador to Denmark. After his return to the U.S. in 1889, he was editor (1898–1922) of the Norwegian language weekly, Amerika.

Anderson's book America Not Discovered by Columbus helped popularize the now familiar idea that Vikings were the first Europeans in the New World. Anderson was the originator of the movement to honor Leif Erikson with a holiday in the United States. Through efforts he started and led, Leif Erikson Day became an official observance in his native Wisconsin and other U. S. states. Decades after Anderson's death, it first became a federal observance by Presidential proclamation in 1964.

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