Therese Louise Jancen Pederson Oral History Interview, 1981  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Pedersen, Therese Louise Jancen
1981 (inclusive)
3 file folders
4 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Therese Louise Jancen Pederson, 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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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Therese Pederson was born on November 25, 1895 in Bodø, Norway to Emil and Ingeborg Jancen. Emil was German and Ingeborg was Norwegian, and they met through their fathers. Both of their fathers were in the herring business and did business with each other in Norway. Therese had six siblings: Lars, Einar, Bergitte, Fritjof, Eilef, and Karl. The family was raised in Norway, but Therese visited Germany on many occasions. Therese was confirmed in January 1911, after which she went to Germany for a few years. She left Germany when the war broke out and then went to "husmor" school in Oslo. There, she also got a job caring for six boys. She worked for this family for five years. In 1921, Therese's mother decided that she should go to America, which Therese did not want to do. Ingeborg arranged for Therese to stay with her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Strømma, in Minneapolis, MN. Therese helped the Strømmas with their housework for a while and then got a job with the Carpenter family, in which she took care of their children. After ten years, she visited Norway for a year and then returned back to Minneapolis. Once she was back in Minneapolis, Therese met her husband, Olaf Pederson, at a Nordland's Club gathering in 1936. Olaf was originally from Vesterdal, Norway but had come to stay with his brother in Minneapolis. They were married on April 16, after which Olaf went west to go fishing in Alaska. Therese stayed in Minneapolis until September and then moved to Tacoma, WA. In Tacoma, she continued to take care of children, and Olaf fished every summer. In 1950, Olaf was paralyzed from a stroke, and he passed away peacefully in 1956. They never had any children. In America, Therese has maintained the cooking and baking of Norwegian foods and has also belonged to Nordlandslaget and the Daughters of Norway. She has returned to Norway on several occasions, and although she is also half-German, Therese thinks of herself as Norwegian and is proud of her heritage.


Full Name: Therese Louise Jancen Pederson. Maiden Name: Therese Louise Jancen. Father: Emil Jancen. Mother: Ingeborg Månson Jancen. Paternal Grandfather: Franz Johnson. Paternal Grandmother: Maria Johnson. Maternal Grandfather: Lars Månson. Maternal Grandmother: Katrina Engelsdatter Månson. Brothers and Sisters: Lars Jancen, Einar Jancen, Bergitte Jancen, Fritjof Jancen, Eilef Jancen, Karl Jancen. Spouse: Olaf Pederson.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Therese Pederson on April 7, 1981 in Tacoma, Washington. It provides information on family background, emigration, employment, marriage, community activities, and Norwegian heritage. The interview also contains photographs of Therese as a young woman, Therese and her husband Olaf, and Therese at the time of the interview. 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
165, side 1 019:
Therese Louise Pederson. Maiden name is Jancen. Born in Bodø, Norway on November 25, 1895. She is 87 this year (1981).
165, side 1 046: PARENTS
Emil and Ingeborg Jancen. Her mother's maiden name was Manson. Maternal grandfather's name was Lars Manson. Therese remembers her grandmother very well, spent a lot of time with her. Her maternal grandmother's name was Katrina Engelsdatter.
They came from Rostock, Mecklenburg, Germany. His name was Franz Johnson. Describes how this grandfather came to Norway and met her maternal grandmother. Therese has been to Germany and has met all of these relatives. Maria was her father's mother. German grandfather came to Norway and rented space in a warehouse from her maternal grandfather. This is how they met. Maternal grandfather was a skipper on a steamer. Therese went with him sometimes.
165, side 1 253:
Therese went to Germany when she was 8 years old to her uncle's wedding. Lasted for a week, dancing, music, and eating. Took many trips between Norway and Germany.
165, side 1 283:
Father was in the wholesale business. He was trained in Denmark. Father was raised in Germany and then came to Norway.
165, side 1 338:
Mother was brought up very strictly. Strong religious setting.
165, side 1 344:
Father sold stuff that was in a drugstore, soap, sugar, candy, etc. No medicine. Was in wholesaling.
165, side 1 376: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Lars died last year in Prince Rupert, Canada. Einar. Bergitte lives in New York. Tells about Bergitte's husband. Talks about the children of Bergitte. Lars was a night watchman in Canada. Fritjof was home in Norway. He became a farmer. Eilef died young. Has one daughter who lives and works in Bodoe. Karl died young of TB.
165, side 1 490: CHILDHOOD HOME
Lived in Bodø. Everything belonged to her grandfather. It burnt down and the railroad station is now on the property. Was a large house. There was a bakery on the first floor of the house. Describes the house. Grandmother's house was close.
165, side 1 536:
Grandparents had four sheep. They used the wool for clothing. Remembers her grandmother carding and spinning the wool. She used to make the most delicious blood sausage with the blood from the sheep. She can still taste these sausages. Therese's mother never learned to do what her mother did. Mother was a nice lady. She was sent to Bergen to learn nice things.
165, side 1 622:
Therese and her family lived on the second floor of the house. She gives more detail on the other people who lived in the house.
165, side 1 665: CHRISTMAS
Everything was ready by Christmas Eve. All was clean, fresh linen, friends visited, and opening gifts. Children were all dressed really nice. Had a large Christmas tree.
165, side 1 690: CHRISTMAS SUPPER
Children always ate something different than their parents. They all had noon dinner together. Had good order in the house. Something born in the Germans that make them disciplined, like they are soldiers.
165, side 1 725:
Most food was German because her father liked it, not much Norwegian.
165, side 1 735:
Always had gifts on Christmas. Father was not a strict religious man. Mother was very religious. Talks about this some.
165, side 1 786:
Always went to church on Christmas Day. Had a big Christmas dinner. Talks about having a Norwegian dinner with a friend of hers who lives upstairs from her. Had fruktgrøt (fruit pudding) and får i kål. Used to eat bird (ryper) on Christmas Day. Describes its preparation.
165, side 1 859:
Celebrated when the tree was ready to be taken down. Had lots of children dressed in their best clothes. Sang around the tree.
165, side 1 874:
Every lodge had a celebration for the children. Got a bag with nuts. Served chocolate and cookies. Do a lot for children in Norway.
165, side 1 878:
Winter is beautiful in Norway. The Northern Lights were bright where Therese lived.
165, side 1 885: SCHOOL
Had a nice teacher. Describes where they lived in Bodoe. The city was good for young people. Lots of nice times. The police went around the city at 8 or 9 to see that all the children were home. Recalls one policeman in particular. Lovely childhood.
165, side 1 928:
Went to Oslo after school to husmor school. Took care of six boys. After her confirmation (January 1911), she left for Germany and stayed for a few years. Went to stay with her uncle who had a big factory for conserving food.
165, side 1 969:
Went to Oslo in 1915. Got a job with the family, six boys. Interesting and good job. Systematic housekeeping, organized. Talks about this in some detail as to what she did. Stayed with them for about five years. They had a summerhouse where they spent the summers. Tells more about this family.
Went to America. Therese's mother did not want her to go to Germany so she sent her to America.
165, side 1 1072:
Got ready to come over. Got papers from the Consulate. Mother paid for her trip over. Sister came over with her. Therese did not want to go.
165, side 1 1089:
She did not have America fever. She had it nice in Norway. Went back to Norway and stayed a year after she had been in the U.S.
165, side 1 1099:
Mother was sad when she left. Terrible weather. They had moved from the big house into a small house.
165, side 1 025: TRIP
Left in the spring. Came over by herself. Her sister came later. Met a nice lady on the boat. Norwegians stayed together on the boat. Came on the Stavangerfjord. Ran into bad weather. Did not go through Ellis Island. A lady friend from New York helped her when she arrived in New York. She helped Therese get on the train.
Did not speak a word of English. Did pretty well on the train. Enjoyed the train ride. Went to Minneapolis. Met by friends, Mr. and Mrs. Strømma. Her mother had lived downstairs in their home in Norway. Stayed with them and helped them in the house. Mrs. Strømma gave Swedish massages. Therese helped clean around their house.
165, side 1 182:
Got a good job stayed for ten years. Worked for the Carpenter's taking care of the children. Went home to Norway for one year, visiting.
165, side 1 216: MEETING SPOUSE
Went back to Minneapolis and met her husband, Olaf. Met him at the Nordland's Club. She had friends who knew his brother. Olaf was from Vesterdal, Norway. He came to stay with his brother in Minneapolis. They were all painters. They met a doing in the Norwegian lodge.
165, side 1 277: MARRIAGE
Married in 1936. Had a nice wedding. Minister married them at the Strømma home. Mr. Strømma walked her up the aisle. Some friends from Norway were there. Therese fixed her own wedding dinner. A girlfriend came and served the dinner. Her dress was light blue with lace.
165, side 1 335:
Olaf left for the West Coast after they were married. Therese went back to work in Minneapolis. Her husband went fishing in Alaska. Therese went out west the day before they came home from fishing. Married on April 18 and came out west in September.
165, side 1 391:
Olaf had taken care of his mother in Norway for many years as she was bedridden. Therese took care of her husband for five and half years when he was paralyzed. Talks about when her husband died. Peaceful death. This was in 1956. Paralyzed from a stroke.
165, side 1 523:
Rented a house when they first came to Tacoma, then they bought it. Olaf went fishing every summer. Therese worked, taking care of children. Had one girl in particular that she talks about quite a bit. Her name is Mary.
165, side 1 573:
No children of their own.
Was active in Nordlandslaget. Therese worked a great deal of the time and could not be as active as she would have been. Did baking, served food. Made Norwegian things like cookies.
165, side 1 655:
Mary Ness (mentioned above) took care of Therese. She was born in Little Norway, Minnesota.
165, side 1 683: CHURCH
Not very active. Went when she had a chance. She worked most weekends.
Belonged to the Daughters of Norway when she first came to the U.S. Also belonged to Nordlandslaget. She liked to be with the Norwegian people. The Stroemma family was very active in Norwegian organizations.
165, side 1 724: PROUD TO BE NORWEGIAN
Sturdy race. Outstanding people in the history of what they have done and what they stand for. Lots of prominent people in Norway. Therese is half German too. She always calls herself a Norwegian. Raised in Norway. Her mother was a typical Norwegian.
165, side 1 779:
Talks about her grandfather some.
165, side 1 780: TRIPS BACK TO NORWAY
Has made many trips. Lots of changes. Improved. Bodoe has even improved. Had a fire, but it has been rebuilt.
Most of her family was already gone. Therese did not like it. War is war. It ruins people entirely. Greed.
165, side 1 832: CITIZENSHIP
In the 1930s after coming to Tacoma. Did not study for it. No trouble at all.
165, side 1 857: ENGLISH LANGUAGE
No problem learning the language. Worked with English speaking people. She was a hard worker wherever she worked. She was firm and good to the children. She was paid well, parents appreciated her. Talks more about caring for the children.
Maintained the cooking and baking of Norwegian foods in the home. Spoke Norwegian in the home until the later years.
165, side 1 955:
Sister came to the U.S. after Therese. She came to Minneapolis and stayed with the Stroemmas too. She got a job where Therese was.
165, side 1 977:
Sister married someone from Norway. He was a seaman. They lived in Brooklyn.
165, side 1 991:
Speaks in Norwegian. Says the Norwegian Table Prayer.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Confirmation
  • Education--Norway
  • 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
  • Personal Names :
  • Pederson, Therese--Interviews (creator)
  • Johnson, Franz
  • Johnson, Maria
  • Pederson, Olaf
  • Strømma, Mr. and Mrs.
  • Jancen, Emil
  • Jancen, Ingeborg
  • Månson, Katrina Engelsdatter
  • Månson, Lars
  • Ness, Mary
  • Corporate Names :
  • Daughters of Norway (U.S.) Embla Lodge #2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Nordlandslaget Nordlyset (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Stavangerfjord (Steamship)
  • Family Names :
  • Jancen family
  • Johnson family
  • Månson family
  • Pederson family
  • Strømma family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Bodø, (Norway)
  • Minneapolis (Minn.)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Vesterdal (Norway)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics