The great wave of Danish immigration in the second half of the twentieth century included both veterans of the American Civil War and survivors of the disastrous Dano-Prussian War of 1864. Mark Hansen, who had settled in Omaha, recognized both how much military veterans shared, and how much they needed each other. With this understanding he founded the Danske Vaabenbrødre (“Danish Brothers in Arms”). Several similar groups developed during this period, and five of these groups gathered to form a national association of Danish American veterans. However, the scope of the new organization did not stop there. There was an almost immediate realization that there were thousands of Danish American men who, although not military veterans, also wanted and needed to be part of a group of “honorable men, born of Danish parents, or who were of Danish extraction.” Thus, in 1882 the Vaabenbrødre was transformed into the Danish Brotherhood in America, the DBIA. William Wind of Racine, Wisconsin was elected the first president of the group.

A tribute to the DBIA’s first president, William Wind, after his death in 1892.

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Ledgers

The greater part of the DBIA collection consists of 12 large record books, each measuring approximately 18″ high, 16″ wide and 5″ deep, and weighing from 15 to 40 pounds.

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Membership Record

Each record book contains a wealth of Danish immigrant history, including not only name and birthplace information of early immigrants, but also narrative stories that help historians understand the full immigrant experience.

Click photographs to enlarge.

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Office Emblems

Each officeholder was identified by the medal they wore during meetings and ceremonies.

IMG_1843officersSee diagram of placement of officers and emblem designation.