The Arnold Munkel Collection

URLs to browse or search the collections

Arnold Munkel (1918-2003) was a mechanic and welder from Spring Grove, Minnesota. Beginning in the 1960s, and especially after his retirement, he devoted much of his time to documenting Norwegian-American folk and old-time music in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa. He recorded home parties, private events, public and festival performances, and a few non-musical events such as interviews and family reunions. He also regularly recorded annual performances at Spring Grove’s Syttende Mai festival and at Nordic Fest in Decorah, Iowa, as well as impromptu sessions at the Viking Bar in Spring Grove. Performers include LeRoy Larson, Bill Sherburne, Leonard Finseth, Bob Andresen, Bertel Malm, Jarle and Wilbur Foss, and many others in performances spanning 1968 to 1995.

The collection also includes local festival programs, Munkel’s personal records of the performers and instruments represented on the tapes, song books, family histories and other materials. Many of the recordings include introductions and personal musings by Munkel.

Munkel’s recordings and thorough documentation of these live performances represent a unique collection of Norwegian American folk music in the Upper Midwest.


Original collection materials reside in the Mills Music Library. Materials in the collection are non-circulating but may be consulted in the library. Patrons wishing to consult materials may contact the reference librarian on duty.

Materials in the collection are subject to the guidelines for use and reproduction of materials in the special collections of the General Library System of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.