Anna Jordahl (1907-1993)

Anna JordahlIn 1944, Anna Jordahl was appointed head librarian at Concordia College.  In this capacity she helped develop the plans for the Carl B. Ylvisaker library, built in 1956, which gave her the space to increase the collection size to over 100,000 volumes before her retirement in 1973.

Anna Jordahl was the daughter of Sivert and Martha Jordahl. She was born on September 18, 1907 in Sioux  Falls, South Dakota.  Jordahl and her family moved to Fertile, MN in 1921. She graduated from Fertile High School in 1925.  After high school Jordahl attended Concordia College.  As a Concordia student Jordahl left her mark, participating in numerous activities and clubs. She was a member of the choir, Alpha Society, Lambda Delta Sigma sorority, Mission Crusaders, Music Club, Sock and Buskin club, and the Student Forum. [1]

Jordahl graduated with honors from Concordia College in 1929 with a bachelor of arts degree in Latin.  She then became a teacher at several high schools over the next few years in the towns of Lake Park, Minnesota, and Forman and Crosby, North Dakota. Jordahl then decided to further her knowledge at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  She graduated from the university’s library science program in 1939 with a second bachelor’s degree.  A few years after obtaining her library degree, Jordahl decided return to Concordia, where she took a job as assistant librarian in 1943.  She worked hard to create the best library possible, and in 1944 she was named head librarian.  Female library administrators were relatively common at colleges like Concordia at the time.  It was also typical that women in such positions were, like Jordahl, unmarried. [2]

During her career Jordahl expanded the number of books and volume sets that Concordia had to offer while also dealing with multiple relocations of the library. During World War II the library was located in the small basement of Fjelstad Hall, a women’s dormitory.  Groundbreaking for the long-awaited Carl B. Ylvisaker Library was held in 1955.  The new library was completed by the second semester of 1956, which meant all of the books in the basement of Fjelstad Hall had to be moved across campus to the new facility. Over 45,000 books needed transporting, but Jordahl, the other librarians, and student volunteers efficiently finished the task.  With the space granted by the new facility, Jordahl was allowed to increase the library’s holdings immensely; in April of 1967, the collection reached a grand total of 100,000 volumes. [3]

Although Jordahl is best known for her work in the library, she also had a hand in different events and groups on campus.  She served as president of the Alpha Society executive board as well as treasurer and president of Concordia’s Women’s League. [4] 

Jordahl was an outstanding woman of Concordia. She helped design the Carl B. Ylvisaker Library, brought thousands of new books and volume sets to the college, and continued to stay active in student groups at Concordia. After her retirement she resided in Moorhead, Minnesota for the remainder of her life.  Jordahl remained active in the community after retirement, attending church and the Alpha Society activities at Concordia. She passed away in December 1993, at age eighty-six. [5]

Authors: Anthony DeLeon & Layne Cole

[1] “Anna Jordahl Funeral Program,” Dec. 17, 1993, Jordahl, Anna, Biography Files Collection, Concordia College Archives; Concordia College, Scout 1929 (Moorhead, MN: Senior, Junior and Sophomore Classes, 1929), 44. The Sock and Buskin Club was a dramatic club organized in 1927 dedicated to the study of dramatics, see: Scout 1929, 124.  The Student Forum, established in 1923, represented Concordia students and maintained open communication between students and administration; it was the precursor to Student Government, see: Scout 1929, 104.
[2] Verlyn D. Anderson, “Tribute to Anna Jordahl,” Apr. 23, 1973, Jordahl, Anna J., Biography Files Collection, Concordia College Archives; Sharon Hoverson, “Biography of Anna Jordahl,” Jordahl, Anna J., Biography Files Collection, Concordia College Archives; “Who’s Who and What’s New: Information Please,” Concordia College Alumni Office Survey,  Jordahl, Anna J., Biography Files. Collection, Concordia College Archives;  “Anna Jordahl Funeral Program”;  Betty Jo Irvine, Sex Segregation in Librarianship: Demographic and Career Patterns of Academic Library Administrators  (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1985), 7-9.
[3] Dorothy Bonnallie, “Ground Breaking,” Concordian, Mar. 18, 1955, 2; “Public Invited to Inspect New Library,” Concordian, Apr. 27, 1956, 1, and “Student Volunteers will Move Books,” Concordian, Jan. 20, 1956, 3; Kay Wikoff, “Library Tops One-Hundred Thousand Mark in Volumes,” Concordian, Apr. 7, 1967, 4.
[4] “Six Members Admitted to Alpha Society,” Concordian, May 14,1942, 6. A student honor society, the Alpha Society’s executive board included two faculty members and one student.  See: Concordia College, Cobber 1941 (Moorhead, MN:  Concordia College), Concordia College Archives,  106; “Five Concordia Personnel to Retire After Century of Service to College,” Jordahl, Anna, Biography Files Collection, Concordia College Archives.
[5] “Five Honored for Century of Service,” Summer of 1973, Jordahl, Anna, Biography Files Collection, Concordia College Archives;  “Anna Jordahl Funeral Program,” Biography Files Collection.