Magdalene Norman

Magdalene Norman

Magdalene Norman was born at Korsnes in Tysfjord on 1 January 1877, and grew up as number three in a large group of siblings. Magdalene’s parents were Nikolai Norman and Marie Heyerdahl Norman. It was Magdalene’s grandfather who bought Korsnes for his son Nikolai, who was a mail opener, steamship clerk and local businessman. Marie also worked at the trading post as a telephone operator.

The Norman family outside the old telegraph station
The harbour at Korsnes

In 1893, Magdalene received her very first camera from the travelling photographer J. L. Johansen. Perhaps this was exactly what made Magdalene decide to try to make a living as a photographer?

Magdalene started as a photographer’s apprentice in Trondheim, with photographer Jul Frøseth from Leka. After her apprenticeship in Trondheim, Magdalene began life as an traveling photographer together with Didi (Bernhardine) Normann.

Magdalene Norman and Frida Thode at Cliff Street
Washington street, Henry Siegel avenue
Fenway Park in Boston
New York

On 9th of June 1906, Magdalene travelled from her home town of Korsnes to the United States with a friend from Bodø, Claudia Kristoffersen. Both are listed as “photographers” in the emigrant register. They travel to Boston in Massachusetts and disembarked in Boston on 30 June, where they were greeted on the quay by Claudia’s brother Teodor Kristoffersen Thode and his wife Frida Thode after 21 days at sea. Magdalene commuted between Boston and New York while working as a photographer in the United States.

Traveling home with the ship Saxonia

In 1910, Magdalene is back in Norway, after being stricken with tuberculosis, and she is admitted to Grefsen folk sanatorium for a short period. The sanatorium opened in 1902 under the name Grefsen Sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, but in 1905 the name was changed to Dr. Mjøen’s Sanatorium. After her illness at Grefsen Sanatorium, Magdalene returned to her hometown of Korsnes, and had a studio built for Hovstua, which had been moved to Korsnes from Lødingen.

Hovstua at Korsnes, with a photography studio to the right

In 1911, Magdalene works as a photographer in Harstad together with Claudia Christoffersen and Frida Thode, who had returned to Norway with Frida’s husband. Many of Magdalene’s photographs are from the years in Harstad between 1911 and 1916-17. In her studio in Harstad, Magdalene photographed with the help of natural light through a skylight that was regulated by curtains, but from 1915 she could advertise photography with electric light!

Two persons with horse and cart close to Kulseng farm
Three female skiers by Kulseng farm in Harstad
Magdalene also had a photography studio in Andøya in Vesterålen
Andenes lighthouse

In 1915, Magdalene married Walter Pettersen (later Thodal) at Korsnes. They had known each other since childhood. However, the marriage was short-lived, and Walter traveled to the United States.

Magdalene Norman and Walter Pettersen

Magdalene Norman moved to Larvik in 1918. Her friend Aagot Olaussen, who had previously been engaged to Magdalene’s brother Eigil, lived here, and Magdalene now moved in with Aagot. In Larvik she worked for photographer Ludwigsen and in 1930 she established “Amatørsentralen”, a photograph and tobacco store.

The Farris lake in Larvik
Magdalene og Aagot at a café
Magdalene og Aagot in the forest

In 1940, Magdalene, together with Aagot, returned to Korsnes after Magdalenes brother Sverre died. Magdalene took over as mail opener and steamship clerk. Aagot passed away in 1952.

Magdalene worked until 1970, when she went to Soltun Retirement Home in Lødingen, together with her sister Boya. Magdalene passed away in 1979, 102 years old.

Korsnes Handelssted
Magdalene Norman

Throughout her photography career, Magdalene has photographed both fine people and “ordinary” people. Among the photographs are both posed photographs of individuals and groups in studios, more relaxed everyday photos from cabin trips, and several fun photos, for example of women who have dressed up.

Women dressed as men
Borghild Norman (Boya), Claudia Christoffersen and Magdalene Norman in a boat at the lake Kilvannet
Christian August Heyerdahl Norman and his wife Anna Elisabeth, with their kids: Thorbjørn Norman, Finn Norman og Anne Marie Norman
Four women making food at the entrance to a cabin by ved Kilvatnet. Borghild Norman (Boya) is sitting in the doorway
Three women drinking coffee on a lawn. Aagot Olaussen to the left, Magdalene Norman to the right
Group photography of Sverre Norman, Aagot Olausssen og Leif Norman and a few others
Claudia Christoffersen and Bergthora Kulseng Hansen

Experience Korsnes Museum

Eternal moments

The photo exhibition “Eternal moments”gives insight to the photographer
Magdalene Norman’s life and experiences.

Korsnes museum

The venue at Korsnes is an old communication center located in an idyllic area.