Alva Paulina Strandell Anderson Pearson Oral History Interview, 1981  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Pearson, AlvaPaulinaStrandellAnderson
1981 (inclusive)
3 file folders.
2 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with AlvaPaulinaStrandellAndersonPearson, a Swedish 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

AlvaPearson was born AlvaStrandell on June 22, 1894 in Borlänge, Sweden. She and her brother Axel lived with their parents, Johanna Vikström and Johan Strandell; her father was employed at a sawmill. When Alva was only two years old, her mother died and her father remarried a woman named Emma. Emma and Johan had one son named Oscar. Alva enjoyed her childhood in Sweden, working, going to school, skating, and skiing. The Christmas holiday was especially fun with the traditional cooking and decorating. Alva's brother Axel moved to America around 1903, settling in Everett, Washington. When Alva's father died of pneumonia, her stepmother encouraged her to join Axel, even though Alva wanted to stay in Sweden and become a schoolteacher. On her way to America in 1910, Alva sewed her money in her dress for fear someone would steal it. Upon her arrival, she found work in Tacoma, first caring for children and then housekeeping. Alva was one of the first women to join the Good Temperance Lodge in 1912; she is the only charter member surviving. Alva obtained her citizenship when she married an American named Axel Anderson who owned a restaurant. They had three children: Kathleen, Lennard, and Wally. Kathleen and Lennard worked during the Great Depression while Alva worked at Weyerhaeuser. Her husband fell ill and sold the restaurant; he died in 1949. The following year, Alva married Dan Pearson, a Swedish man from the Valhalla Lodge who worked at a carpentry shop. Sadly, ten years later Dan died. Alva has remained in the Tacoma area and attends First Covenant Church. She has returned to Sweden eight times, and her children and some grandchildren can speak the language.


Full Name: AlvaPaulinaStrandellAndersonPearson. Maiden Name: AlvaPaulinaStrandell. Father: John Strandell. Mother: Johanna Vikström. Brothers and Sisters: Axel Strandell, Oscar Strandell. Spouse: Axel Anderson, Dan Pearson. Children: Kathleen Wright, Lennard Anderson, Wally Anderson.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with AlvaPearson on October 8, 1981 in Tacoma, Washington. This interview contains information on personal background, emigration, work, community life, family, and Swedish heritage. 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
Born Borlänge, Sweden on June 22, 1894.
97, side 1 008: PARENTS
Johanna Vikström, Johan Strandell employed at a sawmill. Father remarried after mother died. Alva lost mother when 2 years old. Talks about family home. Father remarried to Emma, who came to work as a housekeeper.
97, side 1 023: GRANDPARENTS
Maternal grandparents, Vikstrom. Aunt Gustava Bergström told her some family history.
97, side 1 036:
Eight trips back to Sweden (see counter 525-I)
97, side 1 037:
Brother Axel came to America at age 17. No work in Sweden. Half-brother Oscar joined Alva in Tacoma later.
97, side 1 046: CHILDHOOD
Lots of friends. Everybody had to work, lots of work. Took care of the children and dug potatoes. Big picnics and good food after work.
97, side 1 059:
Skating and skiing in the winter months.
97, side 1 061: SCHOOL DAYS
Started school age 7, attended for 4 years. Confirmation: attended class every week. Many students in class.
97, side 1 076: EMPLOYMENT
Many opportunities for work in the Borlänge area with the sawmill and papermill.
97, side 1 082:
Father died of pneumonia. Mother caught cold and died. Axel worked at the sawmill too.
97, side 1 097: CHRISTMAS
lots of baking, could smell Christmas. Father went into the woods for tree. Decorated the tree. Made lutfisk, rice pudding, coffee bread, and lots of cookies. Buggy ride to church. Christmas was special because they were used to walking everywhere.
97, side 1 127: REASON SHE CAME TO U.S.
Step-mother wanted her to join her brother (he resided in Everett, WA). She found work, helped by Charlie Holmes in Tacoma. Didn't want to come to U.S. She wanted to be a school teacher in Sweden.
97, side 1 137: TRIP OVER
"No fun." Sewed money in dress - afraid someone might steal it. Took train to Göteborg, Sweden. Had to have $25 for U.S. immigration. Took boat from Göteborg (Gothenburg) to England. Many sick. Stayed in Liverpool for 2 days. 50 Swedes to a room.
97, side 1 168: BOAT TO AMERICA
Didn't get sick. Good food. Danced, had a good time. Simrikvital line (?).
Felt not loved, didn't understand. Didn't want to leave.
97, side 1 192: LANDED BOSTON
Put on train to Chicago, helped by police. Had food from Sweden to eat. Didn't talk to anyone - no Swedes on train. Took about a week.
97, side 1 206: ARRIVAL TACOMA
Nobody met her. Teacher from Indian school took her to friends.
97, side 1 231: FINDING A JOB
Took care of child in south Tacoma. Later employed as a housekeeper - $10.00 monthly plus room and board. Later earned $20.00.
Hard to learn. Learned from people she worked with. Street car went past the house. Cost 5 cents, couldn't afford it.
One of the first women to join in 1912, only charter member surviving. Went every Thursday evening - still attends meetings.
97, side 1 330: CITIZENSHIP
Through marriage - first husband was American. Met husband at Valhalla.
97, side 1 339: FIRST HUSBAND
Axel Anderson. Describes wedding in Seattle in a pastor's house. Describes mode of dress on wedding day. Had restaurant on "K" street. Honeymoon in Victoria B.C.
97, side 1 369:
Describes Tacoma in early days. Rented a house and later bought a home.
97, side 1 378: CHILDREN
Kathleen - lives in California. Married to Richard Wright who worked in insurance. Lennard - lives in Lakewood and teaches music. Wally - works at Oakland TV in Tacoma. Alva has six great grandchildren.
97, side 1 424: CHURCH
Children attended Sunday school. Didn't attend Lutheran church in U.S. (see counter 489-I). Attended First Covenant where her son played the organ.
97, side 1 438: DEPRESSION
Son and daughter worked. Alva worked at Weyerhaeuser. Housework and childcare. Husband was sick during depression - had sold the restaurant. Died in 1949.
97, side 1 480:
Remarried in 1950 to Dan Pearson. Employed at carpentry shop. Deceased after 10 years of marriage (also Swedish).
97, side 1 489: CHURCH LIFE
First Covenant. Treasurer of the Ladies Aid. Many Swedes were members (see counter 424-I)
97, side 1 498:
Children spoke Swedish before school days. Still speaks Swedish with friends. Some grandchildren can speak Swedish today.
97, side 1 525: TRIPS BACK TO SWEDEN
First time in 1955, 46 years after coming to America. Describes family home, changes in Sweden similar to U.S. Last trip 7 years ago at age 80 - went back to visit good friends (see counter 036-I). Eight trips back total. Talks about friends who returned to Sweden to get the benefits. Eight trips back total.
97, side 1 610: PLU
Both son and husband had Professor Stuen for a teacher.
97, side 1 629:
Closes in Swedish

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Depressions -- 1929
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family -- Sweden
  • Marriage service
  • Ocean travel
  • Railroad travel
  • Sweden -- Social conditions -- 1945-
  • Swedish-Americans -- Ethnic identity
  • Swedish-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Swedish-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Personal Names :
  • Anderson, Axel
  • Pearson, Dan
  • Pearson, Alva--Interviews
  • Vikström, Johanna
  • Anderson, Alva
  • Anderson, Lennard
  • Anderson, Wally
  • Strandell, Alva
  • Wright, Kathleen
  • Corporate Names :
  • First Covenant Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Good Templars, Independent Order of (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Swedish Order of Valhalla Tacoma, (Wash
  • Family Names :
  • Anderson family
  • Pearson family
  • Strandell family
  • Bergström family
  • Vikström family
  • Wright family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Borlänge (Sweden)
  • Everett (Wash.)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics
  • Sawmill workers