O.J. Hagen’s parents were Jens H. Hagen (1828-1914) and Gunhild Grendahl. They were married in Norway on November 5, 1855. Jens Hagen immigrated to the United States in 1869 and was followed by his wife and family in 1871. They first settled in Menominee, Wisconsin, where Olaf Jenson Hagen was born on September 16, 1872. In May 1873 the family moved to the Red River Valley, settling near Fort Abercrombie in Richland County, Dakota Territory.
From 1917 to 1918, Dr. Hagen was the surgeon for the Clay County Minnesota Draft Board. Hagen was also a staff surgeon for St. Luke’s Hospital, Fargo, North Dakota, and was a founder of the Fargo Clinic in 1919, serving as its president for six years. Dr. Hagen served on the Moorhead School Board, serving five years as president. He also was president of the Band Beach Clay-Becker Tuberculosis Sanitarium Board from 1916 to 1921. Dr. Hagen was also a member of the Concordia College Board of Trustees from 1910 until 1920, and from 1923 to 1931, was the Resident Director for Moorhead State Teachers College on the State Teachers College Board.
In 1931 Hagen was elected to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and served on that Board until 1937. In 1936 he was elected president of the National Governing Boards of State Universities and Allied Institutions and in 1937 was elected president of that organization’s executive board.
Dr. Hagen was also president of the Northern Minnesota Medical Association, served on the State Council of the Minnesota Medical Association, served for five years as the Minnesota Councilor of the American College of Surgeons, and elected a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons in 1941. Hagen also became a member of several social and fraternal organizations.
In 1940 Hagen tried for the Republican Party’s nomination for U.S. Senator, but failed to receive the nomination in the primary. In 1942 Dr. Hagen was given an honorary L.L.D. degree from Concordia College and in 1952 Hagen received the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award. In 1962 the new Science and Industrial Arts building at Moorhead State College was named after Dr. Hagen.
In 1911 Dr. Hagen married Moselle Weld, daughter of Dr. Frank A. Weld. Mrs. Hagen was a graduate of the State Normal School and was a student at Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin. She was prominent in many clubs and social activities in Moorhead. Dr. Hagen died in 1965.
Dr. and Mrs. Hagen had four children: Weld, John, James and Harriet. Mrs. Hagen died in 1931. James was killed during World War II, and Weld died in the 1950’s. John Hagen, who also served in World War II, subsequently became a chiropractor, spending most of his life in Washington State. He passed away in 1980. Harriet Hagen Geib, together with her husband Marvin Geib, a prominent physician and psychiatrist, lived in Moorhead until their own deaths.
The O.J. Hagen Papers consists mostly of speeches given by Hagen, but also includes historical material he gathered for his family’s history as well as the history of the Richland Lutheran Church and material from the dedication of Hagen Hall. There are a few correspondence files. Also included is an eulogy to S.G. Comstock, a tribute to Charles and William Mayo entitled “Giants of the Earth,” and a book written by Christine Hagen Stafne (one of Olaf’s sisters) on the Jens Hagen family entitled Pioneering in the Red River Valley.
Additional donations to the Hagen Papers (in 1990 and 2007) concern the lives of two of Dr. Hagen’s children: his son John (1917-1980) and Harriet Hagen Geib (1913-2005). The John Hagen papers are almost entirely letters written by John Hagen to his father while John served in the U.S. Army from 1941 to 1945. These letters describe his experiences as both an infantryman in the Pacific and as an Army Air Force pilot in Italy. The papers of Harriet Hagen Geib deal with her life and family in Moorhead from 1946 to 2005. A considerable number of these papers document the medical career of her husband Marvin Geib, who was one of the founders of The Neuropsychiatric Institute in Fargo, North Dakota. There is also a small file of letters and documents concerning the death of James Hagen, Harriet’s and John’s brother, who was killed in action while serving in the Army Air Force, 1944. All materials are in good to excellent condition.