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By Karl Egil Johansen
Most of the inter-war period was a crisis for Norwegian fishermen. The principal reason was the extraordinary fall in prices for fish during the First World War. This affected both the herring and cod fisheries. The fishermen tried to resolve the crisis in different ways. One way was to concentrate on more expensive kinds of fish, for which the fall in prices was less. The best example of this is halibut. Fishing for halibut was nothing new along the Norwegian coast, but from 1925 there began a large-scale initiative in more distant waters, in the Davis Strait by West Greenland. Achieving profitability on such long expeditions required the use of large vessels. Cooperation between English capital and Norwegian fishery expertise enabled the equipment of large mother ship expeditions involving several hundred men. The fishing was conducted using long-lines from small motorised dories with three men in each. Specialised workers took care of freezing the halibut aboard the mother ship. The employment contracts set hard conditions, particularly for these workers. Nonetheless, as long as profits were high there were few conflicts. The situation worsened once profits sank, both for the ship-owners and the crews. Halibut is susceptible to overfishing. The fishing was intense, and many halibut were cast away because of unsatisfactory size, in addition to all other fish than halibut. The result was inevitable. The catches declined from 1930, and five years later the mother ship expeditions ceased.
By Atle Døssland
North Sunnmøre distinguished itself from the end of the 19th century as a pioneer region in the development of modern techniques in several aspects of commercial fishing, particularly with regard to distant water fishing with large vessels; decked smacks and, subsequently, steam powered fishing boats. The reasons for this primacy are discussed in this article.
To some extent the principal agency can be connected to specific pioneers and accidental circumstances over a long period of time. A well-established and particularly strong mental attitude to experiment is perhaps a more basic reason, together with a tradition of collective ownership and a determination by ship owners to give practical skippers a lot of leeway. A more concrete reason is probably the natural environment and geographical situation. This region was unusually close to the rich fishing banks far out to sea (the Storegga Slides). It was also easy in this region to keep the expensive deep-sea fleet productive throughout the year. Deep-sea fishing could be combined with the rich seasonal fisheries along the coast, both for cod and herring. At other times of year, the new vessels were engaged in various seasonal fisheries at a greater distance, even around the Faroes and Iceland. Nor was it forbiddingly far to the western icepack where many Sunnmøre vessels took part in seal hunting.
Merchants in the relatively newly-established town of Ålesund were not fixed within a traditional method of organising fisheries. Many had roots in the farming society and they could maintain close relations to active fisherman-farmers. Fishermen-farmers from the northern part of Sunnmøre’s coast could invest with relative security themselves, as they enjoyed an unusual productivity from their farms that, in turn, provided a solid economic base.
By Trond Bjerkås
In 1721, King Fredrik IV pronounced that a new cadaster should be made in Norway. This was to provide an updated basis for land taxation after the Great Nordic War, which had emptied the treasury and forced the state to increase the tax burden on the land population. However, in 1724, after three years of work, the whole project was abandoned.
This article has two main objectives. Firstly, it provides a calculation of what consequences the cadaster would have had, had it not been abandoned. It shows that taxes would have been increased, and thereby continued the process of tax increases that had been taking place through out the 17th century. By abandoning the cadaster, the king in effect set the state on a new path of limiting and lowering the tax burden, making Norway in the 18th century, according to some historians, a «low taxed country».
Secondly, it is argued that the opposition to the cadaster came not only from the taxed farmers themselves, but from local government officials. This reflects a new view of what constitutes the states assets. The population came increasingly to be regarded as valuable, not only as objects of taxation, but as industrious producers.
By Terje Nomeland
The so-called «tyskerjenter» (with the meaning «German girls», or «sluts») were Norwegian women who fraternized with German soldiers during the Second World War. This article is about this group in two neighbouring counties, Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder, in the south of Norway. Most of these women were in their late teens or early twenties and were employed as maids for the occupying power. In total there were about 600 «tyskerjenter» in Aust- and Vest-Agder, who came from all parts of those counties, but the numbers were higher in the biggest cities and in areas with a high German presence. Many of these women were interned in camps shortly after the end of the German occupation. The detention was in many ways legally questionable. Some were exposed to the so-called «cutting actions», in which the women had their hair, partially or completely, cut off. They were also exposed to cruel insults and condemnation, for example in newspaper columns. Few people made a case for the women who fraternized. It seems that some principles of the rule of law were put aside when it came to how these women were treated in the weeks and months after the end of the German occupation.
By Arnfinn Kjelland
In Norway, local history books such as farm and genealogical histories are very popular. Most books cover the period from ca. 1600 until today, with fairly complete information about people, «families» and dwellings from the mid-18th century. A number of volumes are published annually.
Since 2005 the universities and colleges of Norway have had a system for reporting «scientific» activities in a national register. Publications, articles and books that meet four requirements get credits and each credit awards annual budget funds to the institution of the author. They have to present new insights, the results have to be verifiable or applicable in new research, they have to be available to the scientific community and they have to be published by an institution with routines for peer review.
This article discusses to what extent books in this rather unique Norwegian genre can be reported as «scientific history». Usually such books do not have any «research question» (or any traces of the IMRAD standard), they are written mainly for the ordinary public in the area of investigation. However, it will normally be possible through a peer review to see whether the method used meets the requirements, and if the author documents method and sources in a proper way, such books can be reported in the system.
By Ståle Dyrvik
For more than a century, an ever-increasing proportion of Norwegian professional historians have been engaged in local historical research. Studying the development of a small community is in principle as demanding as that of a region or even a nation. But books on local history in Norway also used to include volumes containing detailed description of houses, farms and hamlets with information on the individuals and families that occupied them. Does such listing qualify as research, or is it just a mechanically established catalogue? In his article, Dyrvik argues that this genre demands high historical expertise and that it is important in order to check the general historian’s tendency to define groups and processes without exact knowledge of the smallest units of society.