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Immigrant Stories

Norwegian-born immigrant Belle Gunnes became one of America's most prolific serial killers.

Belle Gunness

Brynhild Paulsdatter Størseth was born in 1859 in Selbu, Norway. She emigrated to the USA in 1881 and became one of America’s most prolific serial killers. To attract her victims, she put personal advertisements in the newspapers requesting well-off gentlemen to write to her. She did not only kill for money because she also killed children, including her own.

Tasks and Activities


  1. Watch the Graveyard “murder mystery”. Is the female body in the grave that of Belle Gunness, along with her three children, or perhaps another woman who was victim to her killings? Forensic anthropologist Andi Simmons and a team from the University of Indianapolis dug up the graves in a Chicago cemetery to find out. Write a summary of the documentary.
  2. What would Belle Gunness’ Facebook profile look like? Who would be her friends? Which groups would she belong to? Which events would she subscribe to? Which books would she have as her favorites? Make her profile.

You will find a great deal of information about Belle Gunness on the Internet. Make a list of the sources you use and comment on their reliability.

More Immigrant Stories

  1. Ida Hansen emigrated from Norway in 1870 and established a magazine for Scandinavian women in America. Learn more about Ida Hansen.
  2. Oscar Arana emigrated from Nicaragua to America with his family. Listen to his story. From Nicaragua to the USA in Pursuit of a Dream?

Learning content

A nation of immigrants

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