April is National Poetry Month and the Wyoming State Library wants to help you celebrate in good ol’ Wyoming fashion! Our state is no stranger to literary and artistic celebration. Today we’re taking a closer look at Agnes M. Wergeland.
Agnes M. Wergeland (1857 – 1914) was a prolific Norwegian-American poet and the first woman to receive a PhD in Norway. In the 1890s, Dr. Wergeland moved to Laramie to teach history and Spanish at the University of Wyoming, where she taught until her death. She met Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, Wyoming historian and the first librarian of the University of Wyoming library, and the two built a house in town affectionately known as “Doctor’s Inn.” The Wyoming Student reported “a large attendance of friends and the whole student body and the members of the Faculty” at her funeral, since she had been a prominent pillar of the University and the community of Laramie.
Wergeland wrote poetry strictly in Norwegian. She argued she would be unable to bring the beauty of her work to English, and thus never translated her poetry. Amerika, og Andre Digte, Wergeland’s first collection of poetry, was published during her lifetime. Hebard published a second volume, Efterladte Digte, in 1914.
You can find issues of the Wyoming Student from 1912 to 1920 in Wyoming Newspapers.