Sulo John Rinne Oral History Interview, 1981  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Rinne, Sulo John
1981 (inclusive)
3 file folders
1 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Sulo John Rinne, a Finnish 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

Sulo Rinne was born on March 12, 1896 in Pirkkala, Finland to John Rinne and Hilma Lehtinen. Sulo was one of ten children. In 1902, Sulo's father immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Astoria, OR, where he worked in the logging camps. When Sulo was sixteen years old, his father sent him a ticket to America. Sulo lived with his father in Astoria and found work at a logging camp. The language differences initially caused many difficulties for Sulo, but he attended a one-room schoolhouse to learn the English language. Sulo met his wife, Esther, in Astoria and built a home for them in Gearhart, OR, near Astoria. Sulo began fishing in the summer and working at the sawmills during the winter. He also joined Peace Lutheran Church in Astoria and the Finnish Brotherhood. He has returned to Finland three times, but by his last trip, everything had changed. Sulo has no special feelings about his Finnish heritage.


Full Name: Sulo John Rinne. Father: John Rinne. Mother: Hilma Lehtinen. Paternal Grandfather: John Stull. Spouse: Esther Wiirre Rinne. Children: One son killed in World War II.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Sulo Rinne on August 26, 1981. It provides information on family background, emigration, employment, marriage, and return trips to Finland. The interview also contains a newspaper clipping from The Daily Astorian, which includes a photograph of Sulo at Hillcrest School in 1913 and a picture of Sulo at the time of the interview. Also see Esther Wiirre Rinne. The interview was conducted in English.

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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
Born 1896 in Pirkkala, Finland.
82, side 1 017: PARENTS
Father - John Rinne employed as bricklayer. Mother - Hilma Lehtinen.
82, side 1 029: GRANDPARENTS
Father's parents died in famine of 1866. Father had to work hard at age 5. Brother and sister separated, met accidentally much later and realized that they related.
82, side 1 069:
Father spent some time in the Army.
82, side 1 082: CHILDHOOD
worked on a farm.
82, side 1 090: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
1 brother, 8 sisters.
82, side 1 097:
Father came to U.S. in 1902 when Sulo was 6.
82, side 1 098: SCHOOL DAYS
attended until age 16, father sent him a ticket to America then.
82, side 1 106:
Father immigrated to Michigan - employed in the mines. Later father and brother moved to Astoria, Oregon and worked in logging camps.
82, side 1 114: TRIP OVER
felt lonely in America. Was put off train in US because he had only Finnish money.
82, side 1 146:
Arrived Svensen, Oregon which is 15 miles east of Astoria. Father had land and had built a log cabin there.
82, side 1 168:
Mother sent him with a suitcase of hardtack. Man on the train shared his pork and beans. Very hungry when he arrived.
82, side 1 194: DESCRIBES LOG CABIN
No floor, wood stove, rats came in at night.
Built Columbia Highway 1913 for a few months.
Didn't speak any English - caused many difficulties. Learned English in a one-room schoolhouse.
82, side 1 242: GILL-NET FISHING
Describes experience. 2 men, 1 captain and 1 putter. 28ft. long boat. Lunch was a 5 gallon can. Stayed out about 3 days or until lunch was gone. Fish 6 cent a pound. Fished mostly in summer and worked at saw mills during the winter.
82, side 1 335: MOVED TO GEARHART, ORE.
Built a home. Worked in saw mill. Met wife in a restaurant. Worked in logging camp and went home on Sundays.
82, side 1 348: CITIZENSHIP
Received it in 1939.
82, side 1 353: FIRST IMPRESSION OF U.S.
didn't like it here felt like home after a while.
82, side 1 360: CHURCH LIFE
Belongs to church in Astoria.
Meetings once a month. Helped the immigrants. Had sick benefits. At one time 1600 members, now 500.
82, side 1 385: TRIPS BACK TO FINLAND
3 times. 1948 - same was when he left. 15 years later everything was different. Two sisters still in Finland and still correspond.
82, side 1 406: FINNISH HERITAGE
Doesn't feel any difference. No Special feeling.
82, side 1 421: CHRISTMAS
Similar to US. Here they have a tree a month before, in Finland the day before and homemade decorations.
82, side 1 437:
Father returned to Finland for 1 visit. Later died in Astoria. Farmed until his death.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Finland
  • Finnish-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Finnish-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Personal Names :
  • Rinne, Esther Wiirre
  • Rinne, Sulo--Interviews (creator)
  • Lehtinen, Hilma
  • Rinne, John
  • Stull, John
  • Corporate Names :
  • Finnish Brotherhood (Astoria, Or.)
  • Peace Lutheran Church (Astoria, Or.)
  • Family Names :
  • Lehtinen family
  • Rinne family
  • Stull family
  • Wiirre family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Astoria (Or.)
  • Pirkkala, Finland
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Loggers