Diderikke Otteson Brandt

A surrogate mother of Luther College students (1865-1885)

Early Years

J. Th. Ylvisaker, in an early history of Luther College, wrote, “A history of Luther College, no matter how brief, would be incomplete did it not make mention of Mrs. Diderikke Brandt.” Diderikke Otteson was born March 9, 1827 in Sande parish on the Christiana fjord in Norway. She was well-educated and traveled Europe extensively in her youth. In 1855, she married Nils O. Brandt and joined him in his pioneer ministry in America. They lived near Ixonia, Wisconsin, from 1856 to 1865.

Years at Luther

The Brandts moved to Decorah in 1865, where Nils became a teacher and pastor at Luther College. Diderikke took it upon herself to become a surrogate mother to the college boys. She organized sewing circles to mend the students’ clothing, raised money for cash-poor students by preparing and selling communion wafers and proved an able hostess for college functions. Her Christmas parties and Sunday teas were times for the students to enjoy themselves, engage in polite conversation, and practice good manners. Diderikke Otteson Brandt fell ill in January of 1885, and passed away on January 21 of that year.

Other information

In appreciation of her contributions to Luther, the alumni association had her portrait painted by Herbjørn Gausta in 1883.

Resources in the Luther College Archives

  • Brandt Family -- collected materials
  • Luther College 1861-1961 by David T. Nelson

Works Referenced

  • Nelson, David T., Luther College 1861-1961, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1961.
  • Who's Who in the Luther College Archives

External Resources