Karina Abelson Langland Oral History Interview, 1978  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Langland, Karina Abelson
Karina Abelson Langland Oral History Interview
1978 (inclusive)
2 file folders
1 sound cassette
1 compact disc
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Karina Abelson Langland, 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

Anne Karina Abelson Langland was born on August 30, 1891 in Skudenes, Rogaland, Norway and was the youngest of twelve children by Andreas and Berte Abelson . Her father was a blacksmith, and the family lived on Karmøy, a large island outside of Stavanger on the west coast; two of her brothers died and are buried in Norway. Her siblings began to immigrate to Mission Hill in Yankton County, South Dakota, and Karina left Norway with her parents around 1900-01; they were the last family members to emigrate and entered the U.S. through Boston. Karina had started school in Norway and continued to attend in Mission Hill. She first lived with a brother and his wife while her parents lived with another sibling, but her parents later bought a house.

She came to Stanwood, WA with her parents and a sister and her husband when Karina was nineteen, and she met her husband, Lars Langland, who was the brother of a neighbor, in Stanwood; they married when she was 22. They bought a farm in Stanwood from one of Karina's sisters and then rented a farm in Bremerton from a man and woman whom Lars knew; they ran a cow farm with the couple, but the farm went broke and they returned to their Stanwood farm. They later sold the farm outside of Stanwood and bought a house in town. They started a chicken business after losing the cow farm, and they ran it for thirty years. They have two sons and three daughters, eighteen grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren. Karina became a precinct committee person for the Democratic Party and registered voters, and she was on the election board for thirty years; she was also active in church. She has never visited Norway and now lives in the Josephine Sunset Home. Lars died around 1968.


Full Name: Anne Karina Langland. Maiden Name: Anne Karina Abelson. Father: Andreas Abelson. Mother: Berte Abelson. Brothers and Sisters: There were 12 children in the family, but two of the boys died and were buried in Norway. Spouse: Lars Langland. Children: Alfred Langland, Inga Langland, Olaf Langland, Annabelle Langland, Berta Langland.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Karina Langland on June 8, 1978 in Stanwood, Washington. It contains information on family history, farming in Washington, children, life in Norway, family's immigration to U.S., voyage to America, life in South Dakota, meeting spouse, life in Washington, political involvement, Norwegian traditions, and church. This first portion of this tape is recorded in Norwegian.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

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There are no restrictions on use.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Custodial History

The Oral History collection project was started during an experimental course on Scandinavian Women in the Pacific Northwest. Students in the course were encouraged to interview women and learn about their experiences as immigrants to the United States. The project was continued and expanded with support from the president's office and by grants from the L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation, from the Joel E. Ferris Foundation and the Norwegian Emigration Fund of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project was directed by Dr. Janet E. Rasmussen. The collection was transferred to the Archives and Special Collections Department.

Acquisition Information

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Processing Note

The interview was conducted by Inger Nygaard Carr using a cassette recorder. A research copy was also prepared from the original. To further preserve the content of the interview, it is now being transferred to compact disc. We deliberately did not transcribe the entire interview because we want the researchers to listen to the interviewee's own voice. The transcription index highlights important aspects of the interview and the tape counter numbers noted on the Partial Interview Transcription are meant as approximate finding guides and refer to the location of a subject on the cassette/CD. The recording quality is good

The collection was transcribed by Mary Sue Gee, Julie Peterson and Becky Husby.


Rasmussen, Janet Elaine. New Land New Lives: Scandinavian Immigrants to the Pacific NorthwestTacoma, WashingtonUniversity of Washington Press1993

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
13, side 1 003/03: FAMILY BACKGROUND
[The first part of the oral history, 003 to 160, is in Norwegian.] Anne Karina was born in Skudenes, Norway, in 1891. Her parents were Andreas and Berte Abelson ?. She attended school for five years in Norway and came to Yankton, SD in 1900 where all her siblings lived. She was number 12 and the youngest. She had six sisters, four brothers, and two brothers that died in Norway.
13, side 1 043: MEETING HUSBAND
Her sisters' husband wanted to move to Washington and Karina came with and has lived here ever since. One of the neighbors had a brother whom people wanted her to meet--a dear man--Lars Langland. They met on a farm outside Stanwood, which has been her home ever since. She has two sons and three daughters, 18 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. It is a very big, respectable family of which she is proud.
13, side 1 092: FARMING
Lars ran machinery to begin with, but there was a strike. Then they bought a farm by Stanwood from her sister, and had two cows to start. They lived there one year and increased the herd to 10. A man and woman were acquainted with Lars and came to visit him. They had a farm near Bremerton ?--a large farm of 90 acres part of which they wanted to rent to Lars and Karina. They had 20 cows, and Lars had 10 so that made a herd of 30, which the acreage could support. There was room for sheep and lambs also. The chores were supposed to be split up, but the boss would get up late, smoke a cigarette, and kept the milkman waiting. "That's the way it kept on, and we went broke--all of us".
13, side 1 162:
Lars and Karina had to leave. No one milked the cows; they stayed in the barn for a week. The other man broke all to pieces and died. But Lars and Karina had a home to return to, so they started life again in Stanwood. They only had one boy during that troubled time, but eventually had four more children. They sold the farm by Stanwood and built a house in town later on.
13, side 1 192:
The last place they had was a chicken business. Kept at it for 30 years, put money in the bank, and had enough to live on for the remainder of their lives. Her husband died about 10 years ago at the Josephine Sunset Home where she lives now.
13, side 1 220/04:
The oldest son lives near Issaquah and worked for Arden's Dairy in Seattle. He is retired now; has one son and two daughters. Another son, Olaf, lives at Summit and works in Tacoma as an electrical engineer. He has two boys and one girl; one works in California, another is an engineer. Inga has three sons, all lawyers. One makes over a $100,000 a year in Guam. Another works in Everett and the third in Tacoma--the Hammer boys. Inga's fourth child is a girl and lives in Tacoma. The fifth works in Tacoma and is studying law also. Inga's husband died early and she was left to raise five children.
13, side 1 295:
Another of Karina's children is Annabelle who is married to a Navy man. They have two adopted children, one in California and one in Virginia. Berta is her youngest daughter and has four boys and one girl. All have graduated from high school.Karina is very proud of her family.
13, side 1 370/05:
In Norway, Karina's family lived on a big island--Karmøy-- outside of Stavanger on the west coast. Father was a blacksmith, strong and healthy. She had four brothers,and the oldest two worked with her father in the blacksmith shop. The third boy was a shiftless kind--wanted to be on the go--and got a chance to come to America at 18,19 years old. The older two brothers went before him--to Mission Hill, South Dakota, as blacksmiths. That's where they all emigrated to--Mission Hill in Yankton County.
13, side 1 399:
The boys got jobs and sent tickets and money over. After the two boys, two sisters came. One after another, they helped one another to come over to Yankton, until the whole family was in America. The parents, Karina and her youngest brother were the last, and they emigrated in 1901 when she was 10 years old. The parents wanted to come because of the family being here.Mother had a sister who was in America, and she started the process of sending money.
13, side 1 428:
Many of the children bought farms and had cows. South Dakota was advertised as a good place to come. Life was no better here, but the young people wanted to see America. The maternal grandparents were still living in Norway--were over 90 years old. Her grandfather was bright and spry, and she never forgot how he said good-bye to her. He was a fisherman but had other skills too--made wooden shoes.Karmøy was crowded; people lived close together. The gardens came right up to the front door. The ground was fertile and raised good potatoes, but was very rocky.The paternal grandparents were dead. He was a fisherman/farmer--had a cow. The fishing grounds off Karmøy were rich. Fish were used for own food, and extra were sold. There were always jobs for the blacksmiths because everything was made from scratch.
13, side 1 505/06: TRIP
Father emigrated alone first, and then mother and the two children followed. There were two brothers left in Norway; one was married and a younger one had diabetes. He was going to stay and rest up before he came, but he died.They took the boat from Stavanger to Hull, England and crossed to Liverpool by rail. The train compartments were interesting--people sat and faced each other. From England, they traveled to Boston by either second or third class; had meals on the boat. Customs were easy, because their papers were all in order. She was not seasick. There was beautiful weather and lots of emigrants in 1900. Karina had two years of school in Norway and continued in Mission Hill. Her brother's wife was good at pronunciation and explanations and helped her with English. Karina learned rapidly. She stayed with this brother and baby-sat for their young boy when they attended card parties and other social events. Her brother was very good to her, like a father. Mother and Father hadn't started housekeeping yet--lived with a daughter. Parents eventually got a house for which the children paid the rent until the parent's sold the Norwegian homeplace. Then they got along fine.
13, side 1 615/07: WASHINGTON
Her brother-in-law and another fellow in Mission Hill had heard about Washington and came out to visit a sister already here. He returned to South Dakota and said "We're going to Washington. We're going to sell out. We're going to Washington. That's the only place to live". A year later, Karina, her mother and father moved to a farm outside of Stanwood.The next door neighbor had a newcomer brother who worked at the shingle mill. He'd come visit his brother on Sundays; Karina's sister and neighbor lady decided Lars needed to meet Karina. And that's how she met her future husband. She was 22 at marriage. "I was living with my sister and brother. ...I didn't have to pay; I was one of the family. I didn't work. No, I never worked out. I always stayed with my sisters and brothers; they could feed me. They didn't want me to do anything but just play around--with the neighbors, go visiting, and we always had some parties". Because she was the youngest, she was picked on, but she was also helped the most; brothers and sisters gave her pocket money.
13, side 1 322/08: SCHOOL
Karina went to common school in South Dakota and moved to Washington when she was 19. Most of the relatives stayed in South Dakota and farmed for livelihoods. Father was retired when he came to Washington and didn't live very long. Mother lived to 90, stayed with Karina, and helped with the house. She also helped raise Karina's three boys and two girls, so the kids remember Grandma.
13, side 1 690:
After they lost their cows, Lars and Karina started a big chicken business. She always liked to work so she became a precinct committee person [Democratic Party] and registered voters; she was on the election board for 30 years. After she got to the Home, she's quit studying politics; believes the government is basically good. The Home is good, and her family takes care of her.
13, side 1 726/09: TRADITIONS
Did not keep up with holiday traditions. Christmas was different when they first arrived, but not now. Boys wore short pants until confirmation. Girls never wore slacks; that was a big change. Food was very good in Norway and America; plenty of cream and milk.
13, side 1 753: CHURCH
She was active in church, but not her husband. He'd had trouble back in Norway with the church council and didn't like church.
13 side, 2 001/10:
Karina corresponds with two cousins in Norway, but hasn't returned. One son and daughter have gone back to visit. The kids could speak Norwegian so they got along in Norway. Alfred was also in Norway, but his Danish wife didn't care to accompany him.
13 side, 2 057:
CHURCH IN NORWAY: Karina has a picture of the church in Norway where she was baptized and where her two brothers are buried. Their homeplace was across the road from the church [Falnes?]. Father and older brothers were caretakers of the church--dug graves, kept up yard, cut weeds, and cleaned inside of church. The church sits in the middle surrounded by the cemetery. All around it is a rock fence. She had two brothers at home all the time. Karina was the 12th and last child of six girls and six boys. One boy died of scarlet fever and the second was stillborn. The rest of the family is in the United States--all came to South Dakota. She's the only one living now.
13 side, 2 132:
Snakker litt norsk. "Hva skal jeg si? Ja, det er godt her i hjemmet. De er saa snille--god mat og godt hjem". She is fine, has everything she could wish for.
13 side, 2 165:
End of Tape

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Norwegian language
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs

Personal Names

  • Langland, Anne Karina Abelson--Interviews (creator)
  • Langland, Alfred
  • Langland, Annabelle
  • Langland, Berta
  • Abelson, Andreas
  • Abelson, Berte
  • Langland, Inga
  • Langland, Lars
  • Langland, Olaf

Corporate Names

  • Josephine Sunset Home (Stanwood, Wash.)
  • Snohomish County (Wash.)--Democratic Party

Family Names

  • Abelson family
  • Langland family

Geographical Names

  • Bremerton (Wash.)
  • Mission Hill (S.D.)
  • Skudenes, (Rogaland, Norway)
  • Stanwood (Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Oral histories


  • Housewives

Titles within the Collection

  • New Land New Lives: Scandinavian Immigrants to the Pacific Northwest