Dagmar Elisabeth Lorentsen Riebe Oral History Interview, 1981  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Riebe, Dagmar Elisabeth Lorentsen
1981 (inclusive)
3 file folders
3 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Dagmar Elisabeth Lorentsen Riebe, a Norwegian immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
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The oral history collection is open to all users.

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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Dagmar Riebe was born on April 4, 1896 in Vik, Helgeland, Norway, which is in the northern part of the country. Her parents were Lorents and Elise Pedersen, and she had five siblings: Kristian, Anna, Signe, and Adolfine, and another brother who died before Dagmar was born. Dagmar's father was a carpenter, and he passed away when Dagmar was seven years old. The family had a small farm with a few cows and sheep, and the girls did much of the farm work after their father died. When Dagmar was seventeen, she began working for a big household, where she cooked, ironed, cleaned, and did the wash. She stayed there for three years and then began cooking at another household. Kristian had immigrated to America in 1911, and in April 1926, Dagmar decided to join him in Minneapolis, MN. She stayed with friends of her brother for a few weeks and then obtained a cooking job for the owners of Crosby Flour Mills. She was one of eight cooks and worked for them for seven years. Dagmar met her husband, Paul Riebe, in St. Paul Minnesota. Paul was a painter and fisherman from Melbu, Norway. The couple moved to Tacoma, WA, and Paul fished during the summers. They also adopted Dagmar's nephew, Ralph Hansen, when he was seven and a half years old. After she was married, Dagmar did housework and garden work only at her own home and obtained a job at Brown & Haley. Paul passed away in 1978. Through the years, Dagmar maintained Norwegian sewing and cooking traditions and also speaks Norwegian in her home. She was a member of the Daughters of Norway and attended Gloria Dei Lutheran church. She returned to Norway in 1930, 1945, and 1978, and contended that it was not the same country. Dagmar was happy to be both Norwegian and American.


Full Name: Dagmar Elisabeth Lorentsen Riebe. Maiden Name: Dagmar Elisabeth Lorentsen. Father: Lorents Pedersen. Mother: Elise Pedersen. Paternal Grandfather: Johanna Pedersen. Maternal Grandmother: Emerentse Lund. Brothers and Sisters: Kristian Lorentsen, Anna Lorentsen, Signe Lorentsen, Adolfine Lorentsen. Spouse: Paul Ingval Riebe. Children: Ralph M. Hansen.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Dagmar Riebe on November 19, 1981 in Tacoma, Washington. It contains information on family background, emigration, employment, marriage, and Norwegian heritage. Also available are a program from the Normanna Male Chorus's 85th Anniversary Concert (November 4, 1973), a photograph of Dagmar's homeplace, two photographs of Dagmar at the time of the interview, and Dagmar's obituary from the Tacoma News Tribune (May 1, 1983). The interview was conducted in English.

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Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The partial interview transcription highlights important aspects of the interview. Numbers may be used as guides to important subjects. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate that the first number is for cassette and the second for CD.

Container(s) Description
118, side 1 019:
Dagmar Elisabeth Riebe. Maiden name is Lorentsen. Born in Vik, Helgeland, Norway in northern Norway.
118, side 1 047: PARENTS
Lorents Pedersen, he died when Dagmar was seven years old. Her mother's name was Elise Knutson Pedersen.
118, side 1 091:
Parents had a little farm. Father was a carpenter. He had a carpenter shop and built houses. Had a few cows and sheep on the farm.
118, side 1 133: GRANDPARENTS
Maternal grandmother's name was Emerentse Lund. Dagmar grew up close to her grandparents. They had a big farm. Her paternal grandparents lived in Velfjord. Johanna Pedersen was Dagmar's grandmother's name.
118, side 1 213: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Three sisters and two brothers. One brother died before she was born. Other brother Kristian married and left for America.
118, side 1 285: CHILDHOOD HOME
Has not changed any from years ago. Her father built the house. Sister lives there now.
118, side 1 351: CHILDHOOD
Always happy. Always working. Doing something outside.
118, side 1 373: SCHOOL
There were four rooms in a building. The teachers were nice.
118, side 1 388: CHURCH
They went every Sunday. The pastor had only one church.
118, side 1 438:
Girls did farm work when their father died. Brother was not around much.
118, side 1 442: CHRISTMAS
Had a tree every year. Baked cookies and bread. Sang songs. Ate rice pudding on Christmas Eve.
118, side 1 469: CHRISTMAS DAY
Went to church. More Christmas in Norway than in the U.S. The feeling is different in Norway than here.
118, side 1 517:
When she was 17, Dagmar worked in a big household in Norway. She did the cooking. Was in charge of things on Sundays, ironing, washing, cleaning, etc. This was the Brontsag's residence. She worked here for three years.
118, side 1 573:
They had a fishing business in the winter. Owned a big store with groceries, had boats.
118, side 1 600:
Lived with a friend in Norway who taught her cooking. Worked for another household and took over the cooking.
Wanted to see her brother and wanted to get out. Brother had come to the U.S. in 1911.
118, side 1 643:
Came to the U.S. in April 1926. Was cooking in Oslo until she left. Mother did not complain about her coming.
118, side 1 657: TRIP OVER
Bad weather all the way. Group of twelve stayed together on the boat, had fun. Took 14 days because the weather was so bad. Was 26 when she came over.
Did not go through Ellis Island. Went second-class.
118, side 1 723:
Met a friend in New York, who took care of her. Left for Minneapolis. Knew little English, not much.
118, side 1 742: TRAIN TRIP
Rough but fun.
118, side 1 747: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF U.S.
Surprised. Norway looked better, has beauty that no other country has.
Stayed with friends of her brother for a few weeks. Got a job with a millionaire as a cook.
118, side 1 801:
Worked seven years for the owners of Crosby Flour Mills in Minnesota. Eight cooks in the house. Family had eight children.
118, side 1 826: TRIP TO NORWAY
Went in 1930 before she was married to visit her mother.
118, side 1 834:
War started in Europe.
118, side 1 838:
Met her husband in St. Paul, Minnesota, Paul Riebe. He was from Northern Norway. He was a painter and did fishing.
118, side 1 858: WEDDING
Was quiet. Went to the minister's office.
118, side 1 870:
Wages at Crosby's was $100 a month plus room and board.
118, side 1 886:
Moved to her brother's for a few weeks. Had an old car that Dagmar and her husband drove to San Diego in 1943 as a wedding trip.
118, side 1 912:
Danish minister married them. A few friends were there. Had a reception. Wore a blue, velvet dress. Camellias were the flowers.
118, side 1 936:
Husband belonged to a Norwegian singing club.
118, side 1 948:
Describes driving out to San Diego, California. Terrible snowstorm. Went through Kansas and Texas. Took a trip to Canada to visit in-laws.
118, side 1 991:
Lived in Tacoma with a Danish fellow who was a nice old man. He lived on K Street. Husband went fishing in the summer. Lived with Rasmussen for a year or so.
118, side 1 1027:
Dagmar took care of her nephew from Minnesota. They adopted him. Ralph M. Hansen, he was seventeen and a half years old. He went to school on K Street.
118, side 1 1082:
Moved out of the Rasmussen's and into a house. Had a garden 50 ft. x 100 ft. Dagmar enjoyed gardening. Planted many vegetables. Did freezing of vegetables. Rented a freezer.
118, side 2 042:
Spent almost a year in Norway in 1945 after the war. Paul went with her.
118, side 2 080:
Lived on Ellen Street for a long time. Did housework and garden work after she was married, only in her own home.
118, side 2 140:
Got a job at Brown and Haley in Tacoma and sent $1000 to her nephew in Norway so he could go to school in Stockholm, Sweden. He has a high job with the Swedish government.
118, side 2 183:
Brother from St. Paul came to Tacoma for work. Paul was fishing.
118, side 2 215: TOOK TRIP TO NORWAY
Had a nice trip. Good time visiting people. Paul had many children in his family so she spent time visiting them.
118, side 2 266: CHANGES IN NORWAY
"It isn't the same country." They have more money and modern homes. Church is the same.
118, side 2 308:
Ralph, her adopted son is vice-president for a big company in Cincinnati. He lives in Bellevue now. He married Joanne Bentine from Tacoma.
118, side 2 360:
Husband died in 1978. He retired from fishing and painting. He had fished between San Diego and Alaska.
118, side 2 394: CHURCH
Member at Gloria Dei Lutheran. She is an active member. Pastor Gulhaugen is the minister. Helped in the church.
118, side 2 445: ORGANIZATIONS
Daughters of Norway.
Sewing, cooking, and speaking Norwegian in her home. She still speaks Norwegian.
118, side 2 478:
Took a trip to Norway in 1978 when her husband died. Had a nice trip. Stayed with her sister and oldest brother.
118, side 2 538:
Brother had a business in Norway, sold groceries.
Nice to be both American and Norwegian. Like both countries.
118, side 2 595:
Speaks some Norwegian.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Marriage service
  • Norway -- Social conditions - 1945
  • Norwegian-Americans--Ethnic identity
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Ocean travel
  • Personal Names :
  • Riebe, Dagmar--Interviews (creator)
  • Lund, Emerentse
  • Pedersen, Johanna
  • Hansen, Ralph
  • Pedersen, Elise
  • Pedersen, Lorents
  • Riebe, Paul
  • Corporate Names :
  • Brown & Haley
  • Daughters of Norway (U.S.) Embla Lodge #2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Hansen family
  • Lorentsen family
  • Lund family
  • Pedersen family
  • Riebe family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Melbu (Norway)
  • Minneapolis (Minn.)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Vik i Helgeland (Norway)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics