Bjug Aanondson Harstad Papers

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UA 1.3.3

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Bjug Aanondson Harstad Papers


  • 1848-1933 (Creation)


6.5 linear feet, (6 boxes)

Name of creator


Biographical history

The founder of Pacific Lutheran University, Bjug Aanondson, was born on December 17, 1848 on a farm named Harstad in Valle, Setesdal, Norway to father Aanond Tellefson Aakre and mother Torbjør Kittilsdatter Harstad. He was one of ten children in the very poor family. Young Bjug took care of the cattle at the family farm called Gangshei above Harstad during the winter months and in the mountains during the summer months.

Bjug and his family emigrated to America in 1861 where they settled in Illinois and Minnesota. He continued his education in the US and was accepted as a student at Luther College in 1865 where he changed his last name to Harstad upon a suggestion of the president of the college. He studied theology at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis from 1871 to 1874. It was his experiences there that became the model for the rest of Bjug's scholarly and religious life. After seminary, he traveled as a pastor to remote places in Minnesota where he built schools and churches.

Bjug Harstad was married February 14, 1877 to Guro Omlid in Minnesota. She was a native of Valle and was born September 29, 1858. In 1889, the church sent Bjug Harstad to the Pacific Coast where he visited Portland, Seattle and Tacoma. He returned to Minnesota and it was decided that Brookdale (as Parkland was called then) should be the important Lutheran education center of the Northwest.

The Pacific Lutheran University Association was incorporated December 11, 1890 with Bjug Harstad as president. The cornerstone for the first building, Old Main, was laid October 4, 1891. The occasion of the cornerstone was a grand event photo of the event. Several Lutheran pastors spoke both in Norwegian and in English and the president of the Norwegian Synod sent greetings with his hope that the undertaking would succeed.

In 1917 the Norwegian Synod that Pacific Lutheran University was founded under, merged with the United Church and the Hauge Synod to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. Harstad refused to join the new Norwegian Lutheran Church, thus formally separating himself from the school he had founded. Bjug Aanondson Harstad died on 20 June 1933 at age 84. His wife Guro, eight of his children, and eleven grandchildren survived him. Old Main was renamed Harstad Hall in 1960 in honor of Bjug Harstad. A granite monument in Valle Norway was dedicated to him on June 26, 1983.

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Papers of founder and first president of Pacific Lutheran University. Papers include information on the Aanondson/Harstad family and the Norwegian Synod.

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  • English
  • Norwegian

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