Emmy Erickson Berg Oral History Interview, 1982  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Berg, Emmy Erickson
1982 (inclusive)
3 file folders
4 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Emmy Erickson Berg, 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
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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

Emmy Berg was born on January 3, 1892 in Transtrand, Dalarna, Sweden to Edward Erickson and Ina Anderson. Edward worked for the state, providing transportation for those in need, and Ina died when Emmy was young. Emmy and her sisters, Kristina and Anna, were raised by their paternal grandparents. Emmy attended school until she was confirmed at age fifteen, and in 1909, she decided to immigrate to Tacoma, WA, where Kristina had settled two years earlier. Emmy spent one year housekeeping in Tacoma and then moved to Seattle with her sister Anna, who had emigrated after Emmy. Emmy continued to do housework in Seattle and then moved to Portland, OR, where she worked for a wealthy family during the day and in an ice cream parlor in the evenings. In 1915, Emmy went to the World's Fair in San Francisco and stayed there for one year before moving back to Seattle. In 1917, Emmy rented a restaurant in Tacoma with a Norwegian woman named Mary Davis. They ran the business for two years. At that time, Emmy married Carl Albin Berg and moved to Port Angeles, where they had their only son, Roy David. They later built a house in Seattle. Roy does not speak Swedish, but Emmy did maintain some of the traditional Swedish cooking. Through the years, Emmy has been very involved in Swedish organizations. She has been the Vice President of the Swedish Club, President of the Vikings, and Financial Secretary of the Vasa Order. Emmy also started a dance group called the Swedish National Dancers.


Full Name: Emmy Johanna Berg. Maiden Name: Emmy Johanna Erickson. Father: Edward Erickson. Mother: Inga Anderson. Paternal Grandfather: Erick Erickson. Brothers and Sisters: Kristina Erickson Bellmark, Anna Erickson Anderson. Half-Sister: Karin Larsback. Spouse: Carl Albin Berg. Children: Roy David Berg.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Emmy Berg on May 12, 1982 in Seattle, Washington. It contains information on family background, emigration, employment, marriage, community involvement, and Swedish heritage. The interview also includes photographs of Emmy as a young woman, Emmy with her dance group, and Emmy at the time of the interview. The interview was conducted in English with some Swedish towards the end of the interview. See also Carl Albin Berg, t171.

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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
172, side 1 018: EMMY JOHANNA ERICKSON
Born in Transtrand, Dalarna in Sweden. January 3, 1892. Transtrand, Dalarna is in central Sweden near the Norwegian border.
172, side 1 097: PARENTS
Edward Erickson and Inga Anderson. From Transtrand. Father employed by the state. Had three horses, provided transportation for those who needed it. Traveled long distances from Transtrand to other towns. Paid well. Stationed in Fulunaas, north of Transtrand.
172, side 1 154 : GRANDPARENTS
Paternal, Erick Erickson a farmer in Transtrand. Large farm with cows, pigs, goats. Hired help. Paternal grandmother mentioned, but no name given. Maternal grandparents from Transtrand but Emmy doesn't remember them.
172, side 1 180 : BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Two sisters, Kristina Erickson Bellmark, eldest. Married in Seattle. Anna Erickson Anderson, the middle sister. Married in Tacoma, divorced and remarried in Chicago.
172, side 1 228: CHILDHOOD
Mother died when she was very young. Grew up with grandparents (paternal) on farm. Grandmother very nice. Many relatives in area. Lots of kids. Many mountains. Lots of skiing.
172, side 1 321 : SCHOOL AND CHURCH
Both on the other side of the river (Dalalven). Didn't go to church too far away. Spent a few weeks with her mother's sister when confirmed. Fifteen years old when confirmed. Went to school until confirmed. Walked for miles in winter before river froze. Wasn't safe to row across and not frozen enough to walk across.
172, side 1 401: CHRISTMAS
Christmas rice (Risgrynsgroet), lutfisk. Christmas morning had meatballs. A Christmas tree and lots of presents. All the kids went to grandmother's. Father didn't come home for Christmas.
172, side 1 442: HALF-SISTERS
Father remarried. Two half-sisters. One of them visited in 1962. Her name was Karin Larsbaack.
172, side 1 477:
Came to America when done with school. Eldest sister, Kristina had come to Seattle two years before Emmy left Sweden. Kristina did housework. She was five years older than Emmy and more like a mother. Father didn't want Emmy to go.
172, side 1 598: TRIP OVER
Left for U.S. September 1909. Came on the boat, Mauretania. Landed in New York. Made one stop on way over. Not sure where. Sick on boat. Went to hospital in New York. Would have been sent home, but got help from father's cousin, Isaccson (?) in Puyallup.
172, side 1 636: TRAIN TRIP
Took train from New York to Chicago, not immigrant train; it was too crowded. Train from Chicago to Tacoma. Father's cousin met her in Puyallup but she couldn't get off the train there. Arrived in Tacoma in the middle of the night. Kristina was working. A lady who knew her as a child met her. She stayed with the lady until Kristina came in the evening.
172, side 1 783 : WORK
Father's cousin in Puyallup was going to send Emmy to school. Kids laughed at her, so she wouldn't go. She wanted to earn money to go back to Sweden. First job with Mrs. Tarr (sp?), a high school teacher. She had four children. Emmy received food and clothing no wages. Didn't want job but worked there one year. Next job with a doctor. He had a bunch of kids. They helped her with the language.
172, side 1 841:
Housekeeping not much different in America. Cooking not much different either. Learned to cook in school in Sweden. Monday did washing. Tuesday did ironing. Wednesday did baking. Thursday had day off. Friday cleaned bedrooms. Rest of house had to be cleaned everyday.
172, side 1 897:
After one year in Tacoma, moved to Seattle with the middle sister, Anna, who came to America after Emmy. They each earned $15 a month and room and board as housekeepers. They wore black dresses, white aprons and little white hats to work. They worked for wealthy people.
172, side 1 939:
Moved to Portland after one year in Seattle. Found an ad for job at one of the "heights" in newspaper in Portland train station. She rang doorbell. Lady asked for references. Emmy had none. Lady slammed door in her face. Emmy got mad, rang again, and asked lady to apologize. Lady hired her.
172, side 1 960:
Emmy worked about six months for the people in Portland, who were millionaires. She worked with a pantry girl cleaning silver and glasses. Worked evenings in an ice cream parlor too. Their chauffeur took her there and brought her back to the house. Many people worked at the house. Had lots of friends. Nice room to live in.
172, side 1 1009: 1915 WORLD'S FAIR
Back in Seattle in 1913. Saved money. Went to World's Fair in San Francisco with her eldest sister. Met two Swedish girls in Swedish building at fairgrounds. Stayed with them, had fun. Emmy stayed almost a whole year. Money problems upon arrival. They couldn't get money from bank in Seattle immediately. No telephones or telegrams yet. Went to YWCA; were able to borrow money because they looked honest.
172, side 1 1066:
Kristina didn't stay as long as Emmy did. She worked at the Augustine and Kyer Bakery on 1st Avenue in Seattle.
172, side 1 1072: BACK IN SEATTLE
End of 1915. Came back by boat. Only had 50 cent. Got room in hotel owned by Blom from same part of Sweden as Emmy. Knew him from the IOGT. She called Augustine and Kyer Bakery: 4:00am. Owner was German. Said she was Kristina Erickson's sister, "I'm living at the hotel and don't have enough money to pay for the hotel and I have a lousy 50 cent in my pocket. Would you please give me a job?" She got a job putting cream in cream puffs. They called her "Cookie". Sister was cook for gang working there. They made about $16 a month. Worked from 4:00am to 12:00pm. Worked there one year.
172, side 2 100:
Worked for many wealthy people. Ironed for a man named Block.
172, side 2 117:
Ran her own restaurant on University in 1917. Rented restaurant with Mary Davis, a Norwegian girl. Worked with Mary before in another…
172, side 2 160:
... restaurant. Located where downtown Nordstrom's is now. Soldiers from Fort Lewis came to their restaurant on Sundays. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served. During WWI freeze on sugar. Had to have it in restaurant. Men from dairy across street came with sack of sugar when inspector came.
172, side 2 189:
Had to give sugar back to the dairy. Fine was $50 for not having sugar at restaurant during sugar freeze. No lump sugar on table, people would take it. When steaks were ordered, went to nearby market square to get it. Sold restaurant in 1919. Went to work for Block again.
172, side 2 321 : MARRIAGE
Married to Carl Albin Berg in 1919. Met in 1916. Living in same hotel. He'd just come back from Alaska. Married day before Christmas Eve. She was housesitting for Hammerbergs (?) who were in Idaho. Scared staying there alone. Couldn't sleep; their dog was barking.
172, side 2 382 :
Told Albin she wouldn't stay another night alone. He said they better get married then. Married by Pastor Friborg at Baptist church on 9th and Pine. Hammerberg (?) came home while they were still in bed. Emmy told them not to think bad of her, she was married.
172, side 2 469 :
They moved to Port Angeles. Albin worked on roads. Emmy worked in a restaurant. He wanted her to stay home. She worked anyway.
172, side 2 519:
Bought a house there. It burned down. Got $500 for property.
172, side 2 551:
Had a son, Roy David, while living in Port Angeles (before house burned).
172, side 2 567: MOVED TO SEATTLE
Lived with wife of David Johnson on East Lake while Johnson was in Alaska. Karlstrom, a friend of theirs in Seattle got Albin a job at the Bank of California. They lived with Mrs. Johnson who had an apartment. They didn't pay anything. They did all washing, ironing, and cleaning. She had a variety store. They stayed until the new house, which they still live in, was built. Emmy and sister bought property in 1915.
172, side 2 611 :
Sister wanted to go to Sweden. They bought her share of property. Got a loan from Washington Mutual Bank. Paid $2,500 to sister.
172, side 2 657:
Emmy worked in laundry starching shirts. Husband worked night and watched baby in daytime. He took baby on a streetcar everyday. Left Roy on 2nd and Madison for about ten minutes until Emmy picked him up. Roy was 3 or 4 then. This went on until the house was paid for.
172, side 2 728:
Emmy made lunches at Bank of California. Lunch was 45 cent. Her last job was at Sunset Club. Mr. Green, a banker, had banquets there. She quit in 1952.
Vie president of old Swedish Club for many years. Quit going, felt job of president was being forced on her. John Nordeen was president then. Emmy was president of Vikings, financial secretary of Vasa Order for years. Swedish Club isn't a sick benefit organization. Vikings and Vasa Order are. Swedish Club is a social club. Joe Oscarson is a helpful member of the club.
172, side 2 851: CHILDREN
Roy David Berg. Married Lillian Johnson. Has two daughters, Chris and Karen, and one son, Bob. Roy is divorced and now remarried. Wife's name is Hazel. She has two girls and one son.
172, side 2 882: GRANDCHILDREN
Chris, the eldest, married John Thompson, an honor student at a university. Worked in California for a while. Works in Bellevue now. They have one son. Karen married Bermuda. Both work at Rainier Bank. They have one boy. Bob works at the bank too, worked at Bank of California, the Canadian Bank, and now works at First National Bank. Married to Donna Smith.
172, side 2 933: TRIPS BACK TO SWEDEN
One trip in 1957. Trip was fine. Left in May. Couldn't get a reservation to come back to U.S. until September. "It rained every blessed day." Stayed with cousins.
172, side 2 945: CHANGES
On farms. Grandfather's farm wasn't like it had been. Farm wasn't there anymore. House she was born in still there. Nobody lived there anymore. One house burned down. Two boys lived in the other house on the farm. No cattle anymore. No farm.
The kids don't speak Swedish. They eat Swedish cookies and coffee bread. She makes good meatballs with lots of pork in them. She doesn't like herring or lutfisk, so tradition hasn't been kept. Fixes "risgrynsgroet."
172, side 2 991 :
Tells about Roy being really sick when he was 17. Tells about Roy joining the Navy although he'd been drafted into the Army during WWII.
172, side 2 1062:
Says in Swedish that she can speak Swedish fairly well. That she hasn't forgotten it and never will.
172, side 2 1066 : DANCE GROUP
Swedish National Dancers. She started dance group when boys came home from service. She had just as many Norwegians as she did Swedes. They were better than any group that came from Sweden. Best group had four Swedish boys, four Norwegian boys, four Swedish girls, and four Norwegian girls.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family -- Sweden
  • Swedish-Americans--Northwest,Pacific--Interviews
  • Swedish-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Personal Names :
  • Berg, Carl Albin
  • Berg, Emmy Erickson
  • Berg, Emmy Erickson--Interviews (creator)
  • Berg, Roy David
  • Erickson, Edward
  • Anderson, Ina
  • Davis, Mary
  • Erickson, Erick
  • Corporate Names :
  • Mauritania (Steamship)
  • Swedish Club (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Temperance Society (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Vasa Order of America. Lodge Number 228 (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Anderson family
  • Berg family
  • Erickson family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Port Angeles (Wash.)
  • Portland (Or.)
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Transtrand (Sweden)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics
  • Restaurateurs