I was looking for traces of the lives of my great grandparents, John and Anna Ramstad. I knew both of them as a child. John died in December 31st, 1984, when I was nine years old, and Anna several years before. I have no record of exactly when. We would visit them at their apartment and I remember their strong Norwegian accents (they still pronounced J’s in the Norwegian way) and the candy they would give me. I had several documents I got from my father: John’s immigration declaration from 1913, his death certificate and a copy of his boat ticket. I had no documents for Anna but I knew her maiden name was Andresen; she was born April 18th, 1895, in Trondheim, Norway.
In late May 2016, I travelled to Oslo and went to The National Archives of Norway. I spent several hours there with the archivists. I was not able to find anything about Anna, or her family. I was able to find out where John was from through the copy of his boat ticket. John Fredrikson Ramstadtrædet, a metal worker, was born in Skjåk, Norway, December 26th, 1890, on Ramstadtrædet husmann farm. His parents are recorded as Fredrik Jonsen Svare and Rønnaug Rasmusdatter Ramstadtrædet.
This was a tipping point between information and memory transforming into the possibility of building a physical relationship with a place. Because I am a dancer, I had to go there. I got a rental car and drove with my family to Skjåk.