Tilla Johanson Lindhe Oral History Interview, 1979  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Lindhe, Tilla Johanson
1979 (inclusive)
2 file folders
1 sound cassette
1 compact disc
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Tilla Johanson Lindhe, 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
Access Restrictions

The oral history collection is open to all users.

Additional Reference Guides

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

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Tilla Pauline (Johanson) Lindhe was born on June 10, 1891 in Rognan, Saltdal (Nordland?), in northern Norway; the closest large town was Bodø. She was the youngest of seven children by Johan and Kristine Johanson; Tilla's father died when she was two years old, and the maternal grandfather helped her mother raise the children. Before she emigrated, Tilla did housework in her community, and she left Norway from Bodø in 1922; she was thirty years old and traveled alone. She landed in Brooklyn and took the train to Tacoma, WA, arriving there on April 1. She stayed with a cousin in Tacoma for a few days and started working right away; she did housework for this family for less than a year and then went to Alaska with a friend and worked in a fish cannery kitchen. She met her husband, Henry Lindhe, who was a main cook in the cannery kitchen, and they married; Henry was from a small community outside Göteborg, Sweden and had emigrated several years earlier. Tilla went to Alaska with his husband and continued to work in the kitchen until Henry found a job in Seattle after two summers in Alaska; Tilla did not work outside the home after they returned to Tacoma. She and Henry had no children. She belongs to Gloria Dei Church and Daughters of Norway, and she has visited Norway six times.


Full Name: Tilla Pauline Lindhe. Maiden Name: Tilla Pauline Johanson. Father: Johan Johanson. Mother: Kristine Johanson. Brothers and Sisters: Leonard ? Johanson, Johan Johanson, Andrew [Andreas] Johanson, Johanna Johanson, Gjertine Johanson. Spouse: Henry Lindhe.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview conducted with Tilla Lindhe on April 17, 1979 in Tacoma, Washington contains information on family history, emigration, voyage to America, work, meeting husband, church and organizations, visits to and changes in Norway, speaking Norwegian. The interview was conducted in English.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on use.

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
21, side 1 005/07: FAMILY BACKGROUND
Tilla Pauline Lindhe. Born on June 10, 1891 in Rognan, Saltdal, Norway, [northern Norway]; Bodø is the largest town nearby.
21, side 1 052:
Father was Johan Johanson and Mother was Kristine. Father died when Tilla was two years old. There were seven children, and Tilla was the youngest. Mother stayed home and took care of the children, and Grandfather helped them. She has a picture of her mother, age 88, taken in front of the Norwegian home.
21, side 1 094/08:
The brothers were Leonard (?), Johan, Andrew or Andreas, and ......?. The girls were Johanna, Gjertine and Tilla. She remembers her maternal Grandpa who was a nice, old fellow. He looked after them by bringing wood to the house and helping all he could. Mother was the only daughter and she inherited the place where Tilla was born. Tilla knows where her paternal grandparents came from but did not have much contact with them.
21, side 1 137/09: EMIGRATION
Tilla left Norway in 1922, traveling alone and landing in Tacoma on April 1st. "I just liked to go. So many went here". She had a cousin in Tacoma with whom she stayed a few days, but started working right away since the cousin had a family. Tilla felt she would return to Norway, so she brought just enough clothes and a few pictures with her.
21, side 1 188:
"I had a wonderful trip on the boat. It was nice weather and it was just like a .......?" It actually was awful stormy, and many were sick. But not her; she was up for every meal. One time she returned to her room, and her cabin mates were heaving. "It was filling the room. They were laying there heaving--sick like a dog! Then, I got sick". Two-three hours later, she felt better and went up on deck for fresh air. The trip over the ocean took nine days. The boat left Bod› and arrived in Brooklyn. She took the train to Tacoma.
21, side 1 238/10: SETTLING IN AND WORK
She was unlucky in her first job; she did housework for an unkind family. They expected her to work night and day, and she didn't get enough to eat. She also should have had Thursdays and Sundays off. But, on Thursdays the lady always had luncheons, and told Tilla she had to work and could get Friday off. But when Friday came, the lady expected her to clean the house. On Sunday, the man played golf until 5 pm, and by the time she cleaned the kitchen after his meal, it was too late to go out. They also had one boy who was the meanest kid Tilla had ever seen. She worked less than one year there. Her girlfriend worked across the street, and she told her boss about Tilla's situation. The lady told her friend that Tilla should quit, and offered Tilla a place to stay until she got another job.Doing housework in America wasn't so difficult; Tilla knew after one week what jobs she had to do. She understood better than she could talk. Being 30 when she emigrated, it was harder for her to pick up the speech. "To talk was the worst for me".
21, side 1 321:
When she got a new job, she felt more comfortable because she could join her friends. She went to AK with another girlfriend and worked in a fish cannery kitchen. They had a good time. Many Norwegians went to Bigport Water, AK, on the coast, traveling there by boat for summer jobs. In the fall she was married.
21, side 1 362/11: MEETING HUSBAND
She met her husband, Henry Lindhe, in the kitchen where he worked as the cook. He was eight years older than Tilla, and was from a little place outside of Göteborg, Sweden. He'd emigrated to America some years before.They had no children. But she has one nephew in Canada that has visited her through the years. Her siblings are all dead now, but she writes to nieces and nephew in Norway. She has also returned and visited in Norway several times.
21, side 1 408:
Tilla enjoyed the work in the cannery because people only worked certain hours and then they were free. Her husband was the main cook. After working two summers in AK, he found a job in Seattle.
21, side 1 457/12:
She has been very healthy and never needed to see a doctor until she was hit on the head [an accident]. But in Norway, she helped many sick people when she could. She fixed meals for them, and was good--didn't charge anything.
21, side 1 489:
In America in her own home, Tilla fixed different foods including Norwegian: lefse, sausages, and fattigmann. They always had a tree at Christmas, and she invited a cousin from Seattle for Christmas Day dinner.
Tilla joined Gloria Dei Church after attending services for many years. But she wasn't so active because she worked. Sermons were in English.She also belonged to the Daughters of Norway. It is a very good organization, one that she's enjoyed. They help poor people at Christmas by fixing baskets of food. She was a dørvakt [door guard]; when people came into meetings they had to give a password. She was also a "ledsager" [escort] who helped to seat people. The early meetings were conducted in Norwegian. New members were initiated in a special ceremony.
21, side 1 576:
When she was working, she was too busy to belong to organizations. And after marriage, they liked to travel around WA by car. She was happy to live in WA. When she first emigrated, friends in NY wanted her to stay there, but she had a ticket for Tacoma, so she came here. She bought the ticket herself with her earnings and with a little borrowed money. She doesn't remember what it cost. She'd heard a lot about America in Norway, but can't remember anything special.
21, side 1 618/14:
Tilla's hobby has been sewing for herself and other people. She also crochets and simply likes to help people.
21, side 1 628:
After marriage, she went to Alaska with her husband for a few years, continuing to work in the kitchen. After they returned to Tacoma, she didn't work out.
21, side 1 639/15: RETURN TRIPS TO NORWAY
She returned to Norway six times. The last time was just three years ago and she feels Norway had changed a lot; people had more money, traveled and enjoyed life more. Her home had burned down. Her nephew had built a house and she stayed with them. Several relatives have visited her in the United States when she had a house. It wasn't so big, but after she sold that house, she got an apartment because there wasn't enough money to buy another house.
21, side 1 695: SPEAKING NORWEGIAN
Tilla still reads and speaks Norwegian, but there is no one in the Tacoma Lutheran Home with whom she can talk. Her husband spoke Swedish, and sometimes his brothers would come and then they talked Swedish the whole time. She enjoyed listening to them as she understands Danish and Swedish. She missed going to church in Norway and hearing the church bells call people to Sunday service.
21, side 1 735:
Before emigrating from Norway she did housework in her community.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Marriage service
  • Norwegian language
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Personal Names :
  • Johanson, Kristine
  • Lindhe, Henry
  • Lindhe, Tilla Pauline--Interviews (creator)
  • Johanson, Johan
  • Johanson, Tilla Pauline
  • Corporate Names :
  • Daughters of Norway (U.S.) Embla Lodge #2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Johanson family
  • Lindhe family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Big Port Walter (Alaska)
  • Bodø (Norway)
  • Göteborg (Sweden)
  • Rognan (Norway)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Cannery workers
  • Cooks