Pictured at right with a Norwegian trunk and a music book from the late 1800s, is Luther College sophomore, Caroline Handley, who recently spent J-Term as an archivist for Aase Haugen Senior Services (AHSS). AHSS is asking the community to share information about the history of Aase Haugen and/or Aase Haugen Homes, with any artifacts that may be donated or photographed. “Our rich history is fascinating,” says AHSS Executive Director Jeffrey Schmidt. “As we plan for the future and building a new facility in Decorah, we are being very thoughtful to catalog our history for posterity, and Caroline provided a great start to organizing our collection.” (Submitted photo)
Pictured at right with a Norwegian trunk and a music book from the late 1800s, is Luther College sophomore, Caroline Handley, who recently spent J-Term as an archivist for Aase Haugen Senior Services (AHSS). AHSS is asking the community to share information about the history of Aase Haugen and/or Aase Haugen Homes, with any artifacts that may be donated or photographed. “Our rich history is fascinating,” says AHSS Executive Director Jeffrey Schmidt. “As we plan for the future and building a new facility in Decorah, we are being very thoughtful to catalog our history for posterity, and Caroline provided a great start to organizing our collection.” (Submitted photo)
The archives of Aase Haugen Senior Services (AHSS) have been gathered into a room that is overflowing with memories.

“We are dedicated to preserving the rich history of Aase Haugen,” says Executive Director Jeffrey Schmidt. “We have gathered more than 103 years of history into one room, and with the help of Luther College J-Term student, Caroline Handley, we’ve begun the important process of curating the lives of many people who have either lived or worked at Aase Haugen Homes, or supported the development and growth of senior services in our community.”

Aase Haugen immigrated from Norway in 1854 with her family. Her mother, Ingeborg, died shortly before they settled west of Decorah and became successful farmers. Aase would never marry and was the sole survivor of her family, having cared for her father, Bjorn, and siblings, Ragnild, Jorand, Gunbjørn and Gulbrand, until their death. At age 42, she was alone. In her mid-sixties, she was diagnosed with cancer and when she understood her illness to be terminal, she made her will. Aase realized her community needed a place people could live as they aged that provided the companionship of others. She died alone, Aug. 13, 1910, and left her entire estate to the Evangelical Lutheran Church to be used to build the first Aase Haugen Home for the Aged along the Haugendale train stop near Decorah.

“This internship really gave me a new appreciation for local history,” says Handley. “It is an amazing opportunity to work with items that had been hidden away and to be able to give people the opportunity to view them, learn more, and inspire an appreciation for this organization.”

“Today, we are embarking on another epic time for Aase Haugen Senior Services,” says Schmidt. “The usefulness of the current facility has long worn out, and we plan to build a new facility to meet the needs of our ever-changing senior population.” The new facility will include a historical area to display some the artifacts from Aase Haugen’s history and share stories.

“We are asking the public to contact us if they have items, photos and stories they would share or donate to add to our collection,” says Schmidt. “Even if the item isn’t something people would want to part with, we’d still like to learn the stories and photograph the items for posterity.”

To share items or information,, contact Tracy Essa at Aase Haugen Senior Services, 563-382-6521 or email to tracy.essa@aasehaugen.com.