Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame
Brynhild Haugland was the only female member of the five persons elected to the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame during its inaugural year.
Haugland was born July 28, 1905 near Minot, N.D., the daughter of Norwegian immigrants Nels and Sigurda Haugland. She has spent much of her life living on and managing the farm homesteaded by her parents. She taught in Ward County schools from 1923 to 1925, leaving teaching in 1926 to help run her parents’ farm. She joined the Farmers Union, became active in political affairs and ran on the Republican ticket in 1936. She lost, but won when she ran again in 1938. She’s won ever since, even though she did not receive her party’s endorsement in 1962 because they considered her too liberal. The constituents elected her anyway.
A champion of education, Haugland was the longest-serving female legislator in the United States at her time of retirement, having served 26 terms (52 years) as a Republican Representative beginning in 1938 and ending in 1990. Throughout her legislative work, Haugland also aided Minot State University in acquiring 10 new buildings.
Haugland also was committed to aiding farmers, earning her recognition by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she said “Go down the list of laws passed by the North Dakota legislature in the last 15 years to help meet the farmer’s problems and improve his living conditions, and you will find that Brynhild Haugland had a hand in every one of them.”
Haugland accomplished her feats by following her own advice, “Any good thing can be accomplished eventually if you are not particular who gets the credit”.
Accolades aren’t new to Haugland , who was elected in 1982 to her 23rd two-year term in the North Dakota House of Representatives. The lists of her achievements, and the recognition she has received, could fill a book.
In 1983, she received the Public Health Association’s “Merit Award,” the “Liberty Bell Award” given by the North Dakota State Bar Association, the “Distinguished Service Award” presented by the Mental Health Association of North Dakota and the “Honorary Recognition Award” from the North Dakota State Nurses Association. In January 1984, the Minot Association of Home Builders gave her another award for her contribution to the building industry. Also in 1984, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of law degree from North Dakota State University at Fargo.
In typical fashion, Haugland was modest about her achievements. Numerous articles, including an editorial in The Minot Daily News, have been written about her and all of them contain her by now well-known quotation, “Most any good thing can be accomplished eventually if you are not particular who gets the credit.” That sums up Brynhild and her legislative career as a behind-the-scenes achiever who felt she could accomplish more if she wasn’t always “competitive and a threat to somebody.”
Haugland has been chairman of the Social Services and Veterans Affairs Committee for 38 years. As a member of the Business, Industry and Labor Committee, she helped with the passage of legislation concerning the reporting of child abuse, the establishment of multi-county health units and the allowance of parole for eligible State Industrial School students into foster homes.
Much of her legislative career has revolved around education, and she was active in the effort to increase the University of North Dakota Medical School from a two-year to a four-year program in the 1970s. She also helped pass bills providing alternatives to institutionalization for the elderly, and she was active in the drive to see Minot State College established as a university.
In 1979, the Assembly of Governmental Employees recognized her as one of the nation’s outstanding state legislators in “the promotion of good government and efficient public service.”
One of her special projects was the International Peace Garden. Haugland served for more than 40 years on the board of directors of the International Peace Garden from 1953 until the time of her death. She also was a member of the board of directors of Minot State College alumni Association and the MSC Foundation, and the Minot Commission on Aging. She is first vice-president of the International Peace Garden, Inc., a past board member of the Western North Dakota Health Systems Agency, a past member of the North Dakota Employment Security Bureau Advisory council and a member of the following: the Steering Committee for the Area Health Education Center at Minot, Ward County Zoning Commission, Minot Planning Commission, and National Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service.
Haugland also was a member of First Lutheran Church, Quota Club, Business and Professional Women’s Club, Delta Kappa Gamma Sorority, Eureka Homemakers Club, Farm Bureau, Farmers Union American Association of Retired Persons and National Retired Teachers’ Association.
She was Minot’s Woman of the Year in 1956 and again in 1971 and received the MSC Alumni Golden Award in 1968. In 1973 she was named the North Dakota “Woman in Law.” She has received several other awards as well.
In 1988, Haugland was one of the two award winners in the Public Service category of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. On March 20, 1995, the State of North Dakota recognized Haugland for her time of public service by awarding her the state’s highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award.
Haugland died in 1998 in Minot, ND.