concrete history of science Private archives UBedu

From concrete wharves to Condeep – the Research File from the Norwegian Committee on Concrete in Seawater (NUFBIS ) on the Norwegian Document Heritage

The NUFBIS Research File at the NTNU University Library, Trondheim, Norway, was in 2014 included in the “Norwegian Document Heritage“, which is the Norwegian part of UNESCOs “Memory of the World”. The ground for this inclusion was: “The results from the extensive field investigations of marine concrete structures along the Norwegian coastline were crucial for use of concrete in offshore structures.

The file is a unique source for the study of early Norwegian offshore and concrete industry, and thus the start of the Norwegian oil adventure. The file has high social relevance as a technical-scientific research file and is a unique source for understanding why Norway got such a prominent international position within oil and gas exploration. The field investigations from the 1960s also contributed to the basis for new international regulations for offshore concrete structures in 1973”

This is the history of the 1960s project where the condition of more than 200 marine concrete structures along the entire Norwegian coast was investigated during the years 1962 to 1968. The marine concrete structures were examined over and underwater, samples were taken and photographed. All this documentation is now stored in the archive “Norwegian Concrete for Concrete in Sea Water”.

Project manager Odd E. Gjørv and colleague dressed in diving equipment. The extensive surveys of concrete wharves along the Norwegian coast also included surveys of the quays from the underside. This meant that diving equipment had to be put into service. (see page 18 of the book: “Durability Design of Concrete Structures in Severe Environments, Second Edition 2014).

The project led to a final report written in English. This was crucial for the results of the project being read and understood abroad.

The front page of the report (“Durability of Reinforced Concrete Wharves in Norwegian Harbors”) published in English in 1968, which was so important in the choice of concrete offshore, and so for Norway’s oil age.

The conclusions of the project led to a decision to use concrete as building materials nationally and internationally in offshore oil platforms.

The conclusions and recommendations of the Norwegian field studies also helped to form the technical basis for the new international regulations for offshore concrete structures in 1973, which was later adopted by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and Det Norske Veritas in 1973.

The first concrete platform (“Ekofisk”) on the NCS was completed in 1973. This was a pioneer work which led to a consortium of Norwegian companies immediately afterwards receiving the first order on a “Condeep” from Mobil. Later, 27 concrete platforms have been built, all of which have contributed to the technical and economic recovery of gas and oil on the Norwegian continental shelf. According to the Norwegian Oil Museum, this was the largest export contract for Norwegian companies.

Foto: The “Ekofisktank” ,the first offshore concrete platform on its way from Stavanger in 1973. This represented a turning point in the use of concrete offshore under rough conditions.

Experience from the use of concrete in exposed environments has later also contributed to giving Norway a special position in terms of expertise in the use of concrete in exposed environments.

Such a project manager from then on, Professor Odd E. Gjørv says: “The results of this research project would later prove to be of much greater significance than it was possible to imagine”

Portrait of late Odd E. Gjørv ( 1935-2016)

The Norwegian Unesco Commission for Admission to Norway’s Document Heritage assumes that this archive has high societal relevance as a technical-scientific research archive is a unique source for studying the early Norwegian offshore and concrete industry, and with the start of the Norwegian oil adventure. Furthermore, it is an important contribution when Norwegian oil history is to be written.


Odd E. Gjørv pers. med.

The archive: Norsk Utvalg for Betong i Sjøvann – UBIT/Tek-0060

The archive: Odd E. Gjørv – Tek-0059 Odd E. Gjørv

Gjørv, Odd E.: “Durability of Reinforced Concrete Wharves in Norwegian Harbours (1968) Ingeniørforlaget A/S Oslo 1968.

Kulturrådet: Arkivet etter Norsk Utvalg for Betong i Sjøvann,


art Church historie Pictures Private archives UBedu

The rose window at the Nidaros Cathedral – a womans project

The rose windov NTNU UB Ernst Schwitters

After 1814, the Nidaros Cathedral were seen as a national icon and its position was strengthened by the fact that the Constitution of 1814 also designated Nidaros Cathedral as a coronation church.
The Nidaros Cathedral has been subject to continuous restoration projects since the restoration of the first phase began in 1869-1877.
An interior committee for a plan of renewal for the cathedral towards the St. Olav’s anniversary in 1930 was formed, but did not include the construction of the rose window for economic reasons.
Marie Ihlen Gleditsch engaged herself in the sake of the rose window. She meant there would be great sorrow if one could not bring the light in through the glorious rose created by architect Olaf Nordhagen (1883-1925).

The rose window project by Marie Ihlen Gleditsch

An idea was born one day when Marie walked past an exhibition of crafts in one of the city’s newspapers. The exhibition showed a commercial for a lottery for income to the Nidaros Cathedral interior project. She then thought that all norwegian women would do this if given the opportunity, give a handmade craft for the rose window. So the idea of a nationally giant lottery was born.
In February 1926 a main committee was formed and they were granted a loan for the project’s operating costs. H.M. The queen (Maud 1869-1938) became the project’s protector. All bishops in Norway got a request for participation. By the end of May 1926 advertising about the project were printed in all norwegian newspapers.
The rose window project achieved great publicity throughout the country. A total of 70 000 information brochures were sent and distributed. Information material was also sent abroad. As early as June 1926, the commitee received the first crafts. In total, the project received 1600 different handwork from all over the country.
The goal was to collect 175 000 n.kroner and this goal was reached.
Thanks to norwegian women, one was able to raise enough money to fulfill the rose window to the St. Olav’s anniversary in 1930.

The rose window is a magnificent jewel on the west front of the Nidaros Cathedral, who from within, illuminates up the interior just like Marie Ihlen Gleditsch’s hope for this project was.

Portrait of Marie Gleditsch, NTNU UB Hilfling-Rasmussen

Marie Ihlen Gleditsch (1876-1965)

Marie Ihlen Gleditsch (1876-1965) was born in Kristiania, as daughter of a Supreme Court Attorney. In 1898 she married medical doctor Johan Arnt Hals Wetlesen, and she followed him when he got a position in Verdal that year. The tragedy hit the family hard when Johan Arnt died during a car accident with horse and carjol in 1903. In 1907 Marie was married with the priest Jens Gran Gleditsch. Jens was a liberal theologian and it sparked strong reactions when he was appointed bishop in Nidaros in 1923. Bishop Gleditsch got ill in 1927, and was from 1928 taken from his position as a bishop. Marie and Jens then moved to Bærum.

The rose window

The rose window shows “Dommedag”and is 12 meter high and 8 meter in diameter. The red field in the middle symbolizes Christ. From here there are yellow and red flames on blue bottom, and angels who sing and play. Among the angels are the four evangelists Matthew, John, Luke, and Markus. Below the rose there are 9 windows with Christ in the middle. The inscription at the bottom goes over all the windows: «Benedicti Venitr Poosidete Regnum. Discedite maledicti in ignem eternum. “(Come blessed, inherit the kingdom, go away, you cursed, in eternal fire)”.

Portrait of Gabriel Kielland, ca. 1930–35. From Byhistorisk samling by Oslo Museum.

Gabriel Kielland (1871-1960)

Gabriel Kielland’s great work is the glass paintings in the Nidaros Cathedral and his main work is the rose window who was completed for the St. Olav’s anniversary in 1930. The glass paintings was performed in the period 1913-1934 after winning a competition in 1908 about glass paintings for the reconstruction of Nidaros Cathedral. Gabriel Kielland used antique glass from Britain, France and Germany. Faces and details was drawn directly on the glass. For his work, Kielland was appointed a knight of 1st grade of St. Olav’s order in 1934.

Gabriel Kielland’s private archive is at NTNU University Library/Dora library. The archive consists of a rather random collection of photographs and newspaper clips relating to his exhibitions and personal anniversaries. Kielland’s drawings and sketchbooks are kept by Trondhjems Kunstforening, apart from the drawings of glass paintings from Vaksdal and Ullern church who are filed at the Riksantikvaren in Oslo.


Gleditsch, Marie, Rosevinduet i Trondhjems domkirke og kvindernes indsamling til det. [u.å]. s. 9-12: Ill. I: Gammelt og nytt fra Trøndelagen, Møre og Namdalen. – Oslo: Oppl. 1925-1927.

Slapgaard, Bjarne, Under rose med rubin, Roman, Det Norske Samlaget 1985.

Suul, Torgeir Flekk, Nidarosdomen glassmaleriene, Nidaros Domkirkes Restaureringsarbeider 1983.

Privatarkivet Gabriel Kielland – UBIT/A-0116

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15 year and working on board a sailing ship to New York in 1881

After Norwegian shipping was heavily affected by reduced trade during the napoleon wars of the first part of the 19th century, the industry again grew strongly from the 1820s to the 1880s. Norway became a leading maritime nation, and this became a source of national pride.

Shipping was important for young Norwegian boys who needed work and income. Many young people were using this as a start of working life and adulthood. Concepts like youth and adolescence were unknown and adolescence were unknown, most often it was the confirmation that served as a sharp distinction between childhood and adulthood.

Illustrative image of a bark in the 19th century.

One of those who traveled was Lorens Brun. Lorens was born in the city 1866 as the eldest son of Pharmacy Brown. Unlike many other boys who traveled, Lorens was from a wealthy family. He was only 15 years old and not confirmed when he stepped on board the bark ship “Leif” .

The university library keeps a copy of his diary notes, giving us a rare insight into the daily life of a young sailor in the 1880s. NTNU UB, private archive A-0063 Lorens Brun.

Below two pages from the diary. The first picture shows the first page in the diary, “my first seatravel” aug 1881. The second picture of the diary page is the equipment Lorens brought with him.



Why did he travel out? We might not know for sure, but maybe the adventurousness was so strong that the family let his eldest son go out on this journey? Perhaps he was inspired by the military tradition of Bruns long traditions, because this journey was for him also the beginning of a military career.

On 28 July 1881 the ship sailed out of Trondheim with a course for America. Lorens were part of a crew of a total of eleven men. Lorens stood at the bottom of the hierarchy on board, and for a young man from a wealthy family this must have been a big change from his life in Trondheim.

Picture of boys as lifts sail. NTNU UB, Gløersen

The young Lorens wrote diary throughout the four-month sail.

Lorens tells from his diary:

Departure day Thursday 28 July. Arose at 6 o’clock and started my first work as a “Kahytsgutt” with lifting anchor. After several hours of work, we were dragged down the fjord with the help of the steamship Orkla. Then we crossed the fjord.  There was a terrible storm. We had to take down all sails and throw anchor in Brækstad Bay at Ørlandet. I went to bed and at 4 o’clock.

The ship stayed in Brekstad Bay for 5 days.

Saturday, July 30th. Got up at the clock 91/2 and started the day helping to pull anchor. We are still in Brækstad Bay. In the evening I had the fishing line out, but with the same result as yesterday, no fish. The officers who had fished before I started had a total of about 20. There have been many boats seen with fishermen. When I got into my bed to lay down, I found the shipdog, lying in my bunk. I pulled the dog out, then prepared to get a good deal of fleas the next morning.

Wednesday 3th of August. Today we finally left Brækstad Bay where we had spent 5 days. We put up the sail on and I helped. We left Briggen from Arendal who was far ahead of us and sailed so far beyond that we could not see it without binoculars in the evening. In the afternoon I cleaned and washed. In the evening, the steamship Uranus sailed past us. Tonight, I have written a letter home to my father.

The second half of the 19th century was a break time in shipping, as it was on the mainland with modernization of agriculture and industrial development in the cities. The old wooden sailing ships were challenged by steamers, ans Lorens depiction of the staemship that passes by the sailing ship is a good picture of what became reality towards the late 1800s..

Lorens tell about steam ships that passes by the sailing ship. As they approached New York, the number of ships increased, both sailing ships and steamers, this is a good picture of what became reality towards the late 1800.

After six weeks at sea, the ship was promoting in New York. 

September 9th. We have spent the whole day outside of Staten Island. This morning the skipper went to land and was gone all day long. In the evening the skipper came on board and brought with him a little American boy with whom I spoke English.

September 18th. Sunday. Today, when I came out I heard that 4 men had escaped by night.

Itinerary trip from Trondheim to New York via Lisbon.

Some people used the transfer to emigrate from Norway to the United States. For Lorens this was not an option, and he continued when the ship left for Portugal.

On the tour over to Portugal they entered a heavy storm and Lorens tells in his diary about what must have been very dramatic days.

October 5th. I was awakened by a terrible noise something before 4 o’clock . I got up on deck, the waves and wind hit us contstantly. I was up on deck until 7 o’clock when I went down and then I slept from 10 am to 12 pm. In the afternoon I was on deck when the big upper sail was demolished. 

October 6th. Today, the weather was even worse. I was thrown over by the wind and water and  I got a hard blow in my head, I thought for a moment I was thrown overboard, but happily I was not.

After these dramatic days, the weather was mostly good for the rest of the journey. Lorens tells less and less in his diary, it eventually becomes a log of what guard he had and how the weather was.

When the ship arrived at Stavanger on November 28th, Lorens returned to Norway after a four month long journey, exactly one month after arrival Lisbon.


Portrait of the older Lorens Brown. NTNU UB, Peder O. Aune

Lorens were confirmed following spring after returning home. This journey had probably given him a taste for the sea. He later went to the warship school and became premier lieutenant. He went to America and worked several years in Argentina and Brazil, among other things, as a Norwegian-Swedish visa consul, surveyor and ship broker. Later in life he moved back to Trondheim and worked as a customs treasurer until 1936.

Lorens Brun died in 1944.


NTNU UB, Peder O. Aune

NTNU UB, private archive A-0063 Lorens Brun

NTNU UB, Gløersen


Private archives UBedu

Coralline algae, online now

The collection of botanical letters that Mikael Heggelund Foslie received on coralline algae during 1884 to 1909 is now available online on This is a collection of nearly 2000 letters. Mikael Heggelund Foslie was one of the most important international researchers on the systematics of non-geniculate coralline red algae at the turn of the 19th century (Woelkerling & Lamy 1998). During his career as an algologist, Foslie carried out extensive correspondence on an international basis with scientists from Australia, Japan, America and  Europa. The letters strongly reflect the process by wich Foslie actively established an international network through which coralline algae were received and the fact that no other researcher had the opportunity to examine such a large quantity of corallines. He received coralline alga specimens for identification from all parts of the world, included material received from several major expeditions, for instance the Albatross Expedition to the Pacific, the Siboga Expedition to the Indio-Pacific region and the German Deep-sea Expedition to the South Atlantic with the Valdivia.

From before, in 2005, his nearly 2000 letters have been analysed and the information categorized and published in a catalogue: The collection of botanical letters to Mikael H. Foslie in the Gunnerus Library: a catalouge, Gunneria 78. This printed catalogue is also available in an online version from NTNU UB.

Coralline algae were initially placed in the animal kingdom with stalactite-like forms. In 1837 Philippi showed that calcareous algae without pores really were plants. Lime precipitates in or between cells. Coralline algae are frequently among red algae, and counts approximately 1600 species within the family Corallinaceae.

Mikael Heggelund Foslie, was born in 1855 in Borge, Lofoten, and died in 1909 in Trondheim. He was trained and worked as a telegraphist in Lofoten 1874-1879. He was a hired curator at Tromsø Museum in the years 1886-1891, with responsibility for the botanical collection and mammal collection. He was appointed as a second curator of the botanical and zoological collection at the DKNVS museum in Trondheim in 1892, and worked there until his death in 1909.

Manuscripts Pictures Private archives UBedu passes 20 000

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Last year, was launched, a search and viewing service for our digitised special collections material. allows you to zoom in on photographs and documents and download files for further use.

This coming weekend the total number of visits will pass 20 000. Our visitors have performed 169 053 searches and spent an average time of 8 minutes and 13 seconds per visit.

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Visits in 2017 so far

33% of our visitors have used mobile devices such as phones or tables. We’re continuing to further improve our website together with our supplier, Tind, to give our visitors a better experience both on mobile and desktop. During the first months of 2017, the viewing technology we’re using will be updated to adapt better on mobile.

Weekly more photographs and documents are published, and we receive new information and other feedback daily from our users via the comment section below each document. Unknown places are recognised, people are identified and mysteries are solved. One can comment as a guest without an account, or e.g. use ones Facebook account to send us comments.

We’d like to thank our users for visiting, we’re looking forward to continuing our cooperation.

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Test Houses at Gløshaugen

Forsøkshus anno 2015. Foto: Nils Kristian Eikeland/NTNU UB
Test houses, 2015. Photo: Nils Kristian Eikeland/NTNU UB

Research on energy efficient housing is one of the long lines of our university’s history. A zero emissions house, ready for inhabitation and research from 1 October 2015, joins a long tradition of test houses at Gløshaugen. For almost 100 years ago, Andreas Fredrik Bugge, professor of house construction learning, raised 27 test houses on the western plateau, behind the main university buildling. The project was initiated by Bugge in 1917 and most of the houses were completed by 1919. Measurements commenced in 1920.

In 1922, after two years of research, Bugge wrote the report «Test houses raised at the Norwegian Technical College, Trondheim. Result of testing with wall constructions and materials for warm and reasonable housing», and a main conclusion was that «Wooden houses are cheaper to heat than concrete housing and significantly cheaper to heat than conrete housing with outer walls of compact 1 ½ stone». The impact of double glazed windows showed a 20% reduction of energy use and therefore significant economic savings.

Professor Bugge therefore recommended that it should be mandatory by law for all rooms constructed for continued use by people to be fitted with double glazed windows. Bugge also pointed out that this was the first time measurements of this kind had been made of wall constructions by means of test houses raised outside a lab, and therefore exposed to natural conditions.

When the University Library collected historical archive material in the attic of the main building, we found a photograph dated 14 October 1919 that shows the test houses with a written description of the various houses.

Photograph showing a row of test houses at Gløshaugen, Trondheim.
Test houses, 1919. Photo: Schrøder/NTNU UB.

The library has several archives containing information about the test houses. One part of professor Bugges archive is correspondence between the Ministry of Social Affairs and physics professor Sem Sæland about the test houses. Sæland was responsible for the heat technical measurements in the houses. There are more documents about this work in his archive.

Architect Jakob P. Holmgren succeeded Bugge as professor in 1930. In Holmgrens archive there is documentation of his work related to the test houses, and the following photograph of their construction.

Photograph showing test houses under construction.
Test houses during construction. Photo: Unknown. Archive reference: NTNU UB, Tek-0011 Jakob P. Holmgren Box 57, folder G 0003.



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