Elsa Anna Maria Nelsson Molund Oral History Interview, 1983  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Molund, Elsa Anna Maria Nelsson
1983 (inclusive)
3 file folders
4 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Elsa Anna Maria Nelsson Molund, 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

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

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Elsa Anna Maria (Nelsson) Molund was born on April 11, 1894 in Resmo, Öland, Sweden. The Nelsson family, including Elsa's three brothers, lived in Mossebo, a town near Kalmar. After Elsa, known as Elsie, went to school and was confirmed, she began working in Kalmar at her uncle's store. Her family celebrated Christmas in the traditional way with a decorated tree, customary food, dancing, and a special morning church service. As Elsie grew up in Mossebo, she worked as a housekeeper and worked in a hardware store. She met her future husband, Erik Molund, in school, but he moved to America for several years. They kept in contact through letters, and when he returned to Sweden, they got married. Erik wanted to move back to America, so the two of them left in May of 1922. They settled in Iowa for a short time and then moved to Tacoma, Washington. Erik worked in construction while Elsie cleaned for a store in town. Elsie and Erik had three children-Elmer, Inga, and Dorothy. Elsie says the hardest thing about moving to America was learning the language. She returned on a ship to Sweden for a visit in 1957. Elsie retains her Swedish heritage by participating in Vasa, helping in the Lutheran church, and cooking Swedish food. Her son Elmer has taken a particular interest in Sweden and has visited several times.


Maiden Name: Elsa Anna Maria Nelsson. Father: Karl Nelsson. Mother: Ida Söderman Nelsson. Paternal Grandfather: Edwin Nelsson. Maternal Grandfather: Edward Söderman. Maternal Grandmother: Venla Söderman. Brothers and Sisters: Erik Karlsson, Bernard Karlsson, Sture Karlsson. Spouse: Erik Wilhlem Molund. Children: Elmer William Molund, Inga Marie Molund, Dorothy Bernice Molund.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Elsa Molund on February 28, 1983 in Tacoma, Washington. This interview contains information on personal background, employment, marriage, emigration, adjustment, church and community life, and heritage. The interview also includes photographs of Elsa Molund as a young woman, Elsa at her uncle's store in Kalmar, Sweden, Elsa's aunt and uncle (October 26, 1916), and Elsa at the time of the interview. The interview was conducted in English with some Swedish throughout the interview. Also see Erik Molund.

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
229, side 1 015:
Elsa Anna Maria Nelsson Molund was born on Öland, Sweden, an island not far from Kalmar, on April 11, 1984.
229, side 1 062: PARENTS
Karl and Ida Nelsson. Father was born in Öland. Mother was born in Mossebo, a town near Kalmar, on the mainland. Elsie's father took care of the pastor's place. They lived there as well until her mother became sick. Then they moved to Mossebo with mother's parents.
229, side 1 133: BROTHERS
Had three brother, Erik, Bernard, and Sture. They all went to school in Mossebo. Father stayed in the farm in Öland. Oldest brother was a sailor. He drowned. The second brother helped out on the farm. The youngest brother stayed with Elsie at their maternal grandmother's home. All of her brothers stayed in Sweden.
229, side 1 208: CHILDHOOD
Didn't have far to go to school in Mossebo. The church was a little farther away.
229, side 1 225: GRANDPARENTS
Maternal, Edward and Venla Söderman. Venla's daughter, Marie (Elsie's aunt) raised Elsie and Sture. Marie was married to a man who'd been in America. He had a store in Kalmar. Elsie worked there when she got older. Paternal, doesn't remember them. Elise left Öland and moved to Mossebo when her mother died. Mother died of tuberculosis when Elsa was 9 years old.
229, side 1 316: SCHOOL
There was a little school not far from where her grandmother lived. One teacher took care of the whole class. The older students would help the younger students.
229, side 1 353: CHURCH
Had to go to Visby to get confirmed. Sometimes had to walk to confirmation class. Had a friend who had a horse. Sometimes Elsie would get a ride to confirmation class.
229, side 1 373:
After confirmation, Elsie went to Kalmar to work in her aunt's husband's store.
229, side 1 390: CHRISTMAS
Had a Christmas tree. Had risgrynsgröt on Christmas Eve. Had cookies, pepparkakor, spritz, coffee bread. Baked bread in brick ovens. Elsie describes how they did this. They had kroppkakor, mashed potatoes filled with pork and then cooked them in salt water. They also had lutfisk. They put presents under the tree. Made decorations for the tree. Danced around it. Went to church by horse and sleigh early Christmas morning. The sleigh bells sounded pretty. After church, they had friends over for coffee. They had a smörgåsbord on Christmas day. Kept the tree up for a month. Did a lot of visiting.
Had to learn to knit and sew. Aunt was a seamstress.
229, side 1 553:
Father remarried but quite some time after Elsie's mother's death. Married someone who had been to America. He had a little farm on Öland that he took care of. Helped other farmers too. Elsie didn't spend much time with her father.
229, side 1 586: WORK
(See also I-373) Worked in a store in Kalmar. Sold sugar loaves (sockertopp). Had to chop it into pieces with an ax. Had to weigh the pieces. Had to cut butter into pieces too. Syrup came in barrels. Had to open a spout for the syrup to come out. She left it open one time. When she came back into the room there was syrup all over the floor. Worked there for 2-3 years. Worked as a housekeeper for a family in Stockholm. She worked in a hardware store in Stockholm after she quit her job as a housekeeper.
229, side 1 698: MEETING SPOUSE
They went to the same school in Mossebo. Elsie did not like Erik at that time. He went to America when he was young. He wrote her letters. She worked for 1 year. He came to Stockholm when she was 28 years old. Brought her home. His parents were living in Förlösa. The man who had the store in Kalmar bought a place in Borgholm on Öland. Elsie and Erik got married in Slottskyrkan in Kalmar. "Slott" means castle. There's a big castle in Kalmar. Elsie stayed with her aunt in Kalmar before getting married.
229, side 1 780: WEDDING
Wore a dark blue dress. Had her aunt and a friend stand with her at her wedding. After the wedding they went to her grandmother's. They took the train there. They had a party for them at her grandmother's house. Somebody who'd come from America brought corn flakes to the party. It was something they'd never seen before. They ate them at the wedding dinner. After the dinner, the danced to accordion music. Many farmers from Mossebo came to the dance. They had lots of cookies and kroppkakor.
Erik wanted to go back. Elsie wasn't too excited about it, but she didn't have much family left. They had their tickets ready before they got married. Left in May 1922.
229, side 1 890: TRIP TO AMERICA
Sailed from Göteborg (Gothenburg). Nice trip, but got seasick. Had false teeth. Lost them when she got sick. When they got to New York, she went to a dentist. He couldn't help her (the reason is unclear). A dentist in Tacoma, Wash. fixed her teeth and she hasn't had any problems since then. Elsie was only sick once during the trip. Everybody was nice. There was entertainment on the boat. Erik and Elsie had birthday parties on the boat. The trip took nine days. The name of the boat was the "Stockholm." Didn't have to go through Ellis Island.
229, side 1 962: ARRIVAL IN NEW YORK
Thought it was a big city. Took a train from New York to Iowa. Erik had a brother living there. Erik had a job putting tile on roofs. Elsie thought Iowa was terribly hot. The thunder and rain were terrible.
Didn't stay in Iowa very long. Erik had relatives in Tacoma so they moved to the West Coast. They traveled by train. This was during the fall after they'd come to America. Mrs. Sandin met them at the train station. They stayed with her for a while. Erik got a job doing construction work. They moved from the Sandin's when they bought the house they live in now.
229, side 1 1021: WORK
(See also I-373, I-586) Worked a little. Got a job cleaning a store in the Washington building.
The language was the most difficult.
229, side 1 1039: CHILDREN
Elmer is farming. He is married and has three daughters. He served in the Navy during WWII. Dorothy teaches school. She's married and has three children. Inga died when she was 38 years old. She had been married and had four children. Dorothy is married to Stan Pederman. He works for Tacoma Plywood.
229, side 1 1101: TRIPS TO SWEDEN
Went back in 1957. Nice trip. Went on the boat. Entertainment on the boat. Celebrated their birthdays on the boat. Saw childhood home. Many changes. Visited brothers Sture… (tape abruptly ends).

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Education -- Sweden
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family -- Sweden
  • Marriage service
  • Ocean travel
  • Sweden -- Social conditions -- 1945
  • Swedish-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Swedish-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Personal Names :
  • Molund, Dorothy Bernice
  • Molund, Elmer William
  • Söderman, Ida
  • Söderman, Venla
  • Molund, Elsa Anna Maria
  • Molund, Elsa Anna Maria Nelsson--Interviews (creator)
  • Molund, Erik Wilhelm
  • Molund, Inga Marie
  • Nelsson, Edwin
  • Nelsson, Elsa Anna Maria
  • Nelsson, Karl
  • Söderman, Edward
  • Corporate Names :
  • Stockholm (Steamship)
  • Vasa Order of America. Lodge Number 233 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Karlsson family
  • Molund family
  • Nelsson family
  • Söderman family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Öland (Sweden)
  • Iowa
  • Mossebo(Sweden)
  • Resmo (Sweden)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics
  • Farmers